Halide Developer Does Deep Dive Into iPhone 12 Pro Max Photographic Capabilities

The iPhone 12 Pro Max is Apple's most expensive and most advanced iPhone this year, offering camera technology that's not present in any of the other iPhones in the 2020 lineup. The ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ features a larger sensor for the wide-angle camera, DSLR-like stabilization, and a longer telephoto lens.

rearcameradarkiphone12pro
Sebastiaan de With, the developer behind camera app Halide who often do detailed looks at new camera features in iPhones, has shared an in-depth account of the updated hardware in the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ and what that means for camera quality.

The blog post shared by de With has a great visualization of the larger sensor in the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌, which is 47 percent larger than the sensor in the prior-generation ‌iPhone‌. The sensor lets in more light, resulting in less noise and sharper results.

As with other camera tests, straight out of the camera comparison shots during the daytime featuring the iPhone 12 and the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ do not show a major difference, and according to Halide's developers, this is because the larger sensor primarily shines in lower lighting conditions.

In lower lighting, such as during sunset, the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ is able to pull out more detail, but Apple's own camera algorithms have enough noise reduction that the difference is tough to see. A comparison of RAW photos, however, shows a more stark difference between the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ and the ‌iPhone 12‌ because Apple's noise reduction isn't a factor.

de With believes that the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ could stand to have less processing to "show off its higher signal to noise ratio," and when shooting in RAW, the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ demonstrates a "big leap ahead in image quality."

Sensor-shift stabilization, which applies stabilization directly to the sensor, also helps the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ put out significantly better images in lower lighting because it works more quickly. The ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ can manage longer shutter times in a handheld mode than are possible with a DSLR, which de With describes as "very cool stuff."

halide camera comparison

Photo by Halide developer Sebastiaan de With. Night Mode on ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌, an unsteady ‌iPhone 12‌ Pro RAW, and an unsteady ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ RAW.

With a traditional DSLR, nobody would dare take a one-second photos handheld. Yet the iPhone 12 Pro Max can take sharp images at ridiculous exposure times.

In this last comparison, you can see that Night Mode can get this shot, but it sacrifices lots of fine detail and makes the scene look a bit unnatural. The iPhone 12 Pro, with its more basic stabilization, can't get a steady frame. It would be impossible to get a shot like this on the iPhone 12, 11 Pro, or heck, the high-end digital cameras I have lying around the studio.

All in all, de With says that the ‌iPhone 12 Pro Max‌ marks a huge leap forward in camera quality, especially for advanced users.

As developers of a camera app, the results mind-blowing. It achieves images previously only seen in dedicated cameras, with sensors four times its size. It allows photographers to get steady and well exposed shots in conditions that weren't imaginable a year ago. It captures low-light shots beyond anything we've seen on an iPhone. By a lot.

The full in-depth article from de With is well worth checking out. It includes a closer look at the telephoto lens, notes on ProRAW, and comparison images that clearly show the differences between the 12 Pro Max and other ‌iPhone 12‌ models.

Top Rated Comments

itsmeaustend Avatar
20 months ago
Still not worth its size...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0lf Avatar
20 months ago
Halide guys does not understand the iPhone 12 pro max is 47% bigger by area. This is confirmed by the focal length of the lenses : 5,1mm for the max and 4,25mm for the iPhone 12. So, in fact, by diagonal, the max sensor is 1,2x bigger. This is how it looks :


Attachment Image

Attachment Image
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zakarhino Avatar
20 months ago
I can't believe I'm saying this but so far most of the images I've seen are inferior to pics taken on the 11 Pro, simply because it seems like the 12 Pro/Max cranks up the HDR effect wayyyy too much resulting in really 'flat' looking images with no depth to them. It's probably just a software thing but does anyone else notice this?

Night Mode looks better though. The real test for me will be seeing what people can do with RAW images taken on the 12PM, is there more room to play with light and color in post? So far the only RAW images I've seen have come from the Halide blog and they look extremely promising.

SmartRAW looks like a fad so I'm not interested in that, I saw some examples on Twitter showing how much detail is lost in SmartRAW compared to straight up RAW taken with something like Halide.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
agsystems Avatar
20 months ago
Yea - I upgraded to the 12 Max but I must be old/blind, etc. About the only difference/improvement I've seen its with night video and photography and that's about it - anyone on the plain 12 should not feel they are missing a lot here
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Hammerd Avatar
20 months ago
The pro max is such a better competitor. The crispiness is crazy
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Baymowe335 Avatar
20 months ago
Most people aren’t good enough at photography to understand or realize benefits.

Most people also think brighter means it’s better.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iphone 13 display pro max

iPhone 13 Pro Max Has Exclusive Hidden Feature Apple Won't Tell You About

Wednesday October 6, 2021 2:06 am PDT by
It has emerged that the iPhone 13 Pro Max offers a new, exclusive feature that Apple has not promoted, according to tests performed by ChargerLAB. The iPhone 13 Pro Max is capable of considerably faster charging with up to 27W of power when connected to a USB-C power adapter with 30W of power or more. This is a significant boost over the iPhone 12 Pro Max's charging speeds, which was only...
iphone 13 pro colors

Shooting 4K ProRes Video Requires iPhone 13 Pro With at Least 256GB Storage

Tuesday September 14, 2021 7:57 pm PDT by
The new iPhone 13 Pro models support 4K ProRes video recording, but there's a catch if you want to capture video at the highest quality - you need an iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max with at least 256GB of storage space. On Apple's tech specs page for the new devices and in the press release announcing the new iPhone 13 Pro models, Apple says that if you have an iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max...
iphone 13 dummy model lineup

Here's What the iPhone 13 Lineup Will Look Like

Monday July 12, 2021 10:54 am PDT by
Apple's 2021 iPhone models aren't expected to launch until September, but thanks to rumors, CAD drawings, and renderings, we already know what to expect. Dummy models are now circulating, and we got our hands on a set to give MacRumors readers an overview of the leaks that we've been seeing for months now. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. We have dummy models of...
44F4A683 3816 4283 BA18 BEB5B9FDFC1C

These Amazing Night Sky Photos Were Taken on an iPhone 13 Pro Max

Sunday October 10, 2021 11:57 am PDT by
The iPhone 13 Pro Max received a number of major camera improvements this year, such as larger sensors and apertures, as well as software features like Photographic Styles. With the first iPhone 13 models being in users' hands for over two weeks now, the real-world camera capabilities of Apple's flagship smartphones have started to emerge. The iPhone 13 Pro Max's impressive astrophotography...
iphone 13 pro max display bleen

You May Not Want to Buy the 128GB iPhone 13 Pro: Here's Why

Friday October 8, 2021 4:01 am PDT by
Users considering purchasing the iPhone 13 Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max with the base level 128GB of storage should be aware that it misses out on functionality that comes with higher storage configurations. One of the main new features to come to the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro Max this year is ProRes video recording capability. Aimed at professional videographers, the ProRes codec offers...
iphone 13 pro max dummy notch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Dummy Model Depicts Smaller Notch

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 13 models are expected to feature a slimmed down notch, marking the first major change to the TrueDepth camera system since it was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X. We're still months away from the launch of the iPhone 13, but Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy managed to get an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy model that represents what we can expect from the new 2021 device. Dummy...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

Kuo: Only iPhone 14 Pro Models to Get 'A16' Chip, Standard Models to Retain A15

Sunday March 13, 2022 8:49 am PDT by
Only the iPhone 14 Pro models will have the "A16" chip, while the standard iPhone 14 models will retain the A15 Bionic chip from the iPhone 13, according to insightful Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In a tweet, Kuo said that the 6.1-inch "iPhone 14 Pro" and the 6.7-inch "iPhone 14 Pro Max" will get the A16 chip, while the 6.1-inch "iPhone 14" and the 6.7-inch "iPhone 14 Max" will retain the...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max Schematics Reveal Larger Camera Bump and Thicker Overall Design

Tuesday March 22, 2022 7:31 am PDT by
Newly surfaced detailed schematics for the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max have been shared online by Max Weinbach, revealing that Apple's upcoming high-end iPhones could feature a more prominent camera bump and a thicker overall design. Last week, more basic schematics for the iPhone 14 Pro were shared, but the ones shared by Weinbach are more detailed and offer measurements for the...

Popular Stories

apple ar headset concept 1

Apple's Headset Said to Feature 14 Cameras Enabling Lifelike Avatars, Jony Ive Has Remained Involved With Design

Friday May 20, 2022 6:50 am PDT by
Earlier this week, The Information's Wayne Ma outlined struggles that Apple has faced during the development of its long-rumored AR/VR headset. Now, in a follow-up report, he has shared several additional details about the wearable device. Apple headset render created by Ian Zelbo based on The Information reporting For starters, one of the headset's marquee features is said to be lifelike...
anker 563 dock ports

Anker's Latest USB-C Docking Station Brings Triple-Display Support to M1 Macs

Wednesday May 18, 2022 7:06 am PDT by
While Apple's early M1-based Macs can only officially support a single external display, there are ways around the limitation. Anker is launching a new 10-in-1 USB-C docking station today which delivers just that. The Anker 563 USB-C dock includes two HDMI ports and a DisplayPort port, and it leverages DisplayLink to carry multiple video signals over a single connection. Given that this hub...
apple data auction iphone privacy ad

Apple Highlights iPhone's Latest Privacy Features in New 'Data Auction' Ad

Wednesday May 18, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
Apple today shared a new ad highlighting iPhone privacy features like App Tracking Transparency and Mail Privacy Protection that are designed to give users more transparency and control when it comes to their personal data being collected. The ad revolves around a young woman named Ellie who discovers that her personal data is being sold at an auction house, with bids being placed on her...
Prosser Series 8 3

Apple Watch Series 8 Rumored to Feature New Design With Flat Display

Wednesday May 18, 2022 6:21 am PDT by
The Apple Watch Series 8 could feature an all-new design with a flat display, according to the leaker known as "ShrimpApplePro." In his latest video on the YouTube channel Front Page Tech, Jon Prosser highlighted information from ShrimpApplePro that suggests the Apple Watch Series 8 could feature a flat display in what seems to be a design originally rumored for the Apple Watch Series 7. ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...
iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple's AR/VR Headset Nearing Completion as Board Gets Demo

Thursday May 19, 2022 9:52 am PDT by
Apple last week demonstrated its upcoming AR/VR headset to Apple board members, indicating that the device is in an advanced stage of development and could see a debut in the not too distant future, reports Bloomberg. Apple has also ramped up development of the software that runs on the headset, with that software expected to be called "RealityOS," or rOS for short. Render via designer Ian ...