Apple has focused a lot on professional camera features the new iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max during this week’s launch event.
In fact, Apple has thrown out so many concepts, terms, and acronyms in such a short amount of time that it might make your head spin.
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Don’t worry, now that we have time to breathe, we can return to these features and explain their meaning.
Let’s start by listing the information on this one slide:
Focal distance is shorthand for explaining how wide an image a camera lens will capture. The smaller the number, the wider the shot.
Technically, the lens here is not a 24mm, but a 24mm equivalent, but we’ll overlook that.
2.44 um (micron) is the size of the light-capturing pixels in the sensor and four pixel indicates how the four pixels are grouped together to act as a larger 2.44 micron pixel.
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Each 2×2 cluster of pixels is assigned one color, and four of these pixel bundles are then grouped into two green bundles and one blue and one red bundle. Green gets more pixels because the human eye is most sensitive to this color.
100% focused pixels means that all pixels are used for image focusing purposes. In the past, only some pixels were used, but using all pixels is now common in high-end sensors.
Aperture refers to how much light is let onto the sensor by the lens and is measured f-stop numbers. The lower the number, the more light the lens lets through.
OIS is short for optical image stabilization, a technique in which the lens or sensor is shifted to compensate for camera movement when taking a picture.
Other dates dropped during the event were ROUGH and ProRAW.
RAW can be thought of as a digital negative (remember film negatives?), which is a file format that stores the raw data captured by the sensor without processing or converting it to a file like JPG. RAW files are larger and contain more detail, but require editing before printing or posting to social media.
ProRAW is an Apple file format that uses a standard digital negative (DNG) file format that allows the file to be edited in high-end editing tools such as Adobe Lightroom.
Also: What is ProRes and why does Apple keep mentioning it?
Another widely used term was optical zoomwhich is a technique where the image is magnified as opposed to the lens itself digital zoom, which will only crop the image and lose detail as a result.
It’s there too HDR, which means high dynamic range photography. This is a technique that combines several images into one image to get more detail in the highlights (bright areas) and shadows (dark areas).
Macro photography is where you get close to a subject – such as flowers or insects – and take close-up shots.
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Now on to the video – and the first thing I need to explain is ProRes.
Apple talks a lot about ProRes because it’s a video codec (short for encoder/decoder or sometimes compressor/decompressor) developed by Apple. ProRes, which dates back to 2007, is special because while it compresses video – and this compression will always result in the loss of some image detail (often called “lossy”) – this lost image detail is not visually apparent.
In other words, ProRes is a visually lossless, lossy video compression format.
The downside of ProRes is that the file sizes are huge, but editing is much easier and better.
To alleviate the huge storage demands that ProRes places on videographers, the iPhone 15 Pro supports recording to external drives – e.g. SSD Samsung T7 — meaning you’re not limited by the storage space you have available on your iPhone.
Two other bits of jargon sprinkled into the camera coverage were Log coding and LUT.
Log encoding is a profile that records video with a flat, muted color profile to capture and preserve more detail in highlights and shadows. The iPhone 15 Pro is the first smartphone to support ACES, the Academy Color Encoding System.
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The downside is that this format needs to be edited before use, and one of the edits is to use a LUT, or Look Up Table, which is a file containing information to remap and transform flat footage into video that has color and color. contrast which can be further adjusted to match any desired style.
Editing video that is formatted in Log – and working with LUTs – requires professional tools such as Adobe Premiere Pro.
I hope this overview helps those of you who were confused by some of the terminologies used, and maybe even encourages you to get a little more creative – or technical – with your photography or videography.