Inside Apple’s iPhone Xs camera technology that rivals DSLR quality

“Spotting celebrated photographer Pete Souza, outside the Apple Park Visitors Center, just minutes after Apple unveiled a stack of new iPhones and impressive photographic capabilities was, if nothing else, serendipitous,” Lance Ulanoff writes for Medium. “I couldn’t fathom how he wasn’t surrounded by fans, people like me who appreciate Souza’s surfeit photographic skills and wit (currently most evident on his Instagram feed), and tentatively approached the man who famously photographed two sitting presidents: Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.”

“Souza later told me in a phone call that he’d been invited by Apple to the iPhone Xs launch event but had no idea what to expect. ‘I figured, what the hell, I’ll go,'” Ulanoff writes. “Like me, Souza marveled over the updated Portrait Mode capabilities that let you adjust the background blur effect after you take the photo, with either the front or rear dual camera system. He told me he didn’t think consumers would take notice of the f-stop numbers on the interface. Later, on the phone, Souza said, ‘I think they’ll use it and not really understand it.’ But he added they consumers will understand the results and see how ‘when they go in one direction, everything other than what’s in focus gets less in focus and the other way things get more in focus.'”

“‘I love this decision by the team, to honor art of photography and the work that went into characterizing how great lenses work,’ said Apple SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller when I asked about the decision to include f-stop numbers in the Depth editor interface,” Ulanoff writes. “The numbers consumers will see one these phones and through the Photo editing app are not just an old-school nod to how f-stops and aperture control work on DLSR cameras. Schiller told me Apple engineered an exact model of how a physical lens at those aperture numbers would behave.”

Tons more, including many iPhone Xs/Max images, in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: These Xs cameras and their features are truly mind-blowing!

‘Shot on iPhone Xs’ video showcases Apple’s amazing new camera – September 13, 2018


  1. In the hands of a pro, a DSLR will outperform a phone every time, particularly now that we are headed into mirrorless territory, and they will only get better. Still, impressive, and one thing is for certain: point and shoots are dead as a doornail.

  2. I wish they would stop already.

    No matter what they do, it will not rival a DSLR. I little sensor with a little lens can not physically do what a full frame camera with a quality piece of glass can do. It’s physics.

    Yes you can get some good Facebook photos.

    1. I agree with you, but sadly, most people don’t care. The pics they get with an iPhone are good enough.

      For those of us with experience with DSLRs, we can also do amazing things with iPhones. I’d just rather use a DSLR due to the tactile feedback.

      I used my X on my last vacation in May. It worked and I got some usable shots, but my EM1 and various lenses won’t be left at home next time.

      1. As a professional photographer I just shake my head at this kind of talk. Taking good photos is rarely about the gear.

        Sometimes I shoot with m6 5D mkIII, sometimes I use my iPhone or other cameras I own. It all depends. I know photographers who have have mortgaged their houses to get the best gear, yet their photos are terrible.

        1. As a former sports photographer for a local paper, I will say that the gear sometimes does matter. Low light ability and long lenses are the domain of professional equipment, and no phone on this or any other planet can duplicate what I could do with a 300mm f2.8 at ISO 6400 at a high school football field.

          But you do have to have the eye. The best teacher I ever had told me that the pictures were all around you – you just have to see them.

          With all that being said, a few weeks ago in San Diego I found myself touring the aircraft carrier Midway without my usual Nikon gear. Having only my iPhone 6s, I did get decent tourist-quality pics.

        2. Taking good photos is a number of things. But why handicap your self with an iPHONE?

          Like I said you can get some good photos for FB, but are you going to grab and iphone to do a portrait shoot with a client with gimmicky depth of field? Are you going to get a tack sharp wall hanger from an iphone? No, you have to resort to “good enough for most people”

          Please how you’re going to get good bokeh and compression on an iphone? it’s simple you won’t.

          Composition is one important aspect of a photo, gear is another important part.

          Take one long exposure with an iphone and it will be clear why gear matters.

          Glass matters.

    2. The Apple hype machine is only exceeded by the blind fanbois that lap it up.

      What Apple has been able to do within the confines of a cell phone camera is fairly impressive, but in no way matches what great glass on a large sensor can do- especially in the hands of someone who knows how to exploit the capabilities.

      I used to make my living as a Professional Photographer back in the days of film and had to learn how to set color with my eyes and gels, not that long ago. Otherwise, I have a reference point when making judgements.

      What would be cool would before Apple to make a top end digital camera that accepted quality lenses. Leave the lenses to established makers and concentrate on the sensor and processing. The Micro Four Thirds system would be a good fit.

    3. While true, as you can’t change the laws of physics, it seems strange to me that you would want anyone to stop developing technology. What the iPhone has done is remarkable. The image quality is better every year.

  3. Based on the Apple Event and some other articles, it appears that Apple is attempting to accomplish something much more useful and powerful than what most writers are describing

    Most articles explain Apple’s new bokeh feature as simply varying the degree of blur for the background.

    They’re all missing a very big point.

    Apple claims they are actually varying DEPTH OF FIELD.

    The difference is that as one increases the depth of field from very short to very long, apple is gradually increasing sharpness for different PORTIONS of the background. (as opposed to increasing sharpness for the entire background as a single whole)

    In order to do this, apple has to actually perceive depth on all portions of the picture (examining pixels independently), as opposed to treating the photo as though there were two planes: near and far.

    If they can do this well, it will be very very impressive, and create some truly unique effects.

    I have not seen any writers note that distinction.

  4. This is all good. When are going to get more pixels. iPhone has been stuck at 12MP since the 6s. 12 is fine for TV or computer screen viewing but for large prints I would like more.

    1. If you want large prints then you’ll have to use a real DSLR. More pixels on that small sensor will just make things worse.

      The iPhone has a terrific camera and software that eliminates the need for a point and shoot but it will never replace the quality of a DSLR.

      However, for most people the iPhone is all the camera they need. For most people, the iPhone is better then a DSLR because they don’t know how to use a DLSR or the software.

  5. The iPhone XS is better than a DSLR for 99.9% of users (always on, always in your pocket/hand). Professional photographers don’t even make up 1% of the “DSLR is better OMG!” pearl-clutching crowd.

    1. And, I can give an iPhone XS to anyone and folks will be pleased with the pictures they take. I give the same person a DSLR and they’ll struggle for awhile, not like how the pictures came out and swear that the iPhone is better.

      The iPhone ISN’T better, it’s just that most people are better AT it.

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