Since ever the launch of the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone photographers noticed a huge camera performance increase in photography and other differences between the earlier version and the iPhone 11 Pro. But the biggest difference is that this phone model has 3 cameras: 1x (wide), 2x (zoom) and a new 0.5x (ultra wide)
Therefore, which of those three cameras from the iPhone 11 Pro is the best for photography? This mainly reflects into the area of photography you are doing and each has advantages and disadvantages. The new 0.5x ultra-wide is amazing for photographing sceneries but does not benefit from low light long exposure settings, where the 1x is the best for night photography and 2x for portraits.
There are noticeable differences between these three cameras. I will try to cover as much as possible information and based on my experience of photographing with the iPhone 11 Pro, to come to a conclusion.
Which iPhone 11 Pro camera is the best for photography?
New iPhones are being released every year. Maybe the next iPhone will come with 4 cameras or maybe with 6. Who knows how the future generations of iPhones will evolve in photography?
But as now, we have the iPhone 11 Pro which is a giant step into photography. I didn’t owned the earlier version of Xs but had the iPhone X and I could tell the differences.
Now, coming back to the iPhone 11 Pro cameras, if you look closely, they have a different structure, this because they have a different angle of view and aperture
The iPhone 11 Pro comes with three separate new 12 MP cameras, the ultra wide angle lens 0.5x 13mm wide and an aperture of f/2.4, the standard camera with the basic lens 1x, 26mm wide and f/1.8 and the ‘telephoto’ lens of 52mm f/2.0.
iPhone 11 Pro 1x camera. Advantages and disadvantages
- 26mm focal length
- ƒ/1.8 aperture
- 6-element lens
- Optical image stabilisation
- 100% Focus Pixels
- New 12MP sensor
Between these three cameras, this has the widest aperture of f/1.8 which makes it a preferable choice for a night or low light photography. Moreover, long exposures work smoothly with the iPhone 1x camera, as compared with earlier iPhone versions
The 1x camera still comes with the optical image stabilisation, allowing you to capture sharp images even if you have shaky hands or record smooth videos.
Can’t think too much of a disadvantage rather than “being a standard wide camera” same focal length is used more or less since on all the iPhone series, therefore, people tend to use and photograph more often with the 1x than any other, which does not bring a “touch of magic in phone photography” as much as the 0.5x or 2x
iPhone 11 Pro 2x camera. Advantages and disadvantages
- 52mm focal length
- ƒ/2.0 aperture
- 6-element lens
- Optical image stabilisation
- 2x optical zoom
- 12MP sensor
The 2x camera version is similar to the one found in iPhone X and XR (and all these max versions) and it appears to be a new sort of lens which allows 2x optical zoom to be performed without loosing any image quality (as compared to digital zoom)
Moreover, there’s been some improvements from the earlier iPhone versions to the 2x camera to the iPhone 11 Pro.
The optical stabilisation in 2x camera, same as in 1x allows you to capture long exposure photographs during the night or low light, handheld.
iPhone 11 Pro 0.5x camera. Advantages and disadvantages
- 13mm focal length
- ƒ/2.4 aperture
- 5-element lens
- 120° field of view
- 4x more scene
- 12MP sensor
The new 0.5x camera is available only from iPhone 11 Pro and beyond. It is a new unique camera which allows you to take ultra-wide shots with your iPhone. And when I mean ultra wide, I mean it.
To have this type of camera in a mobile phone, is game-changing for photography. Most of the scenery or places you are photographing, will look totally different on a 0.5x perspective with an 120 degree field of view.
I found that most of the photographs taken with the 0.5x are having “a touch of magic” as compared with the other two lenses. For sure, you can explore your creativity with phone photography beyond any limits. Or at least the limits are the cameras.
One disadvantage I’ve noticed in the 0.5x version is that it does not have image stabilisation nor long-exposure options. About the image stabilisation, with this wideness, you probably won’t need much as your images will always look stable and sharp.
But when we reflect on taking long exposure during the evenings or nights, we are not able to do it with the 0.5x camera, no matter how dark is the scene. I don’t know if this is just a “missing feature” and will be released in further iOs updates or is a hardware limit. But still, keep in mind the fact that now we have a ultra-wide lens in our iPhones
Which of the 3 cameras is the best for photography and when you should use it?
If we have to follow our logic, would be clear that every camera have their role in photographing a specific scene or when used for portraits, but let’s take it a bit beyond that.
I found that using the standard 1x camera to be the best for low-light or night photography because of the following reasons:
- It does have the widest aperture of f/1.8, allowing more light to come into the camera sensor as compared with the other two cameras.
- When we reflect in long-exposure photography taken handheld, because of the image stabilisation, we observe less “shake” induced on 1x as compared to the 2x camera because of the wideness of the lens. Remember, 0.5x does not have image stabilisation, therefore, the 1x camera is a big winner.
- This is a standard for iPhone, therefore, the 1x camera had time over the years to evolve and evolve and evolve up to this point, where for the 2x camera we have only a 3rd generation after the iPhone X and Xs and as for 0.5x is only the first generation. Because of that, we are expected to observe better performance and quality on the 1x. Keep in mind that this is not 100% proved though.
The 2x camera I found to be the best in portrait photography, because of the following reasons:
- In photography, capturing with a 50mm focal length is basically more or less what you see with your own eyes. In this case, the 2x camera has a 52mm focal length, making this to be as close as possible to photograph a person as you see it with your own eyes. The portraits captured with the 2x will look natural and beautiful as compared with other lenses.
- Because of the naturalness of the 52mm focal length, your portrait, model, will not look further nor closer than it is, therefore, minimum to none distortions will be observed.
- Longer the focal length (and closer to the subject + widener the aperture) you will have a shallower depth of field and even bokeh, making the 2x camera to be more than perfect for portrait photography.
- This camera still benefits the image stabilisation, opening new areas of low light street portraits, unavailable before on any iPhones.
The 0.5x camera is new from iPhone 11 Pro and beyond, and I found most useful in capturing sceneries and landscapes because:
- The 13mm focal length is unnaturally wide. Every scene will look extremely distorted with a slight fish-eye effect. This will mostly make every sceneries and landscape you are capturing to look out of the ordinary. In a good way though.
- Still, because of the ultra-wide focal length and the angle of view, you can expand the idea of “sceneries” to absolutely anything you want (e.g. street photography, nature, waterfalls, sky, buildings, indoors etc) and in general, all images captured where there is not a main element (such as portrait) tend to look much better than with other cameras.
- You can get to explore your creativity with this lens (e.g. skateboarding, surfing, leading lines etc.) beyond you can do with 1x or 2x.
- The panoramas you can capture with the 0.5x would look absolutely fabulous, breaking all the phone photography rules and ideas from before.
Because of the government lockdowns, I was able to take only a handful of photographs outdoors and mostly indoors. Although there is no much to share about indoor photography with iPhone 11 Pro, same rules applies as above.
But from my personal experience of experimenting with this phone model and the cameras, I came to the conclusion that there are a big difference and improvement in camera quality, both 1x and 2x, and 0.5x is a new option we didn’t have before. But now we have it.
Even if this isn’t perfect and it leave room for improvement, the 0.5x is an addition I am proud to have on my iPhone 11 Pro and happily use it as often as I can.
For now, I have to say goodbye and thank you for remaining with me until the end of this post. Follow our blog for more information about photography and phone photography. Moreover, you can check our other successful post “15 tips to improve your iPhone photography“. Take care and stay safe!
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