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December 25, 2019 5 min read

Noisy, blurry images from a smartphone camera? Not if Apple’s latest iPhones have anything to say on the matter. Being the brand that introduced as to Deep Fusion camera features that allowed us to take clear, crisper photos with excellent dynamic range, Apple surely knows how to treat its customers to the good stuff.

And the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro do pack the sweetest things. With these smartphones, you get extra cameras, ultra-wide-angles, the ability to switch to dark mode, and you can also zoom out on photos you've already captured. These features are surely enough to make you hop into your pickup truck and explore the scenery.

But it's the iPhone 11 pro smartphone camera system that stands out. Unlike the iPhone pro that has a dual camera, the Pro takes things further using a triple-lens rear end with ultra-wide perspectives. Plus, its night mode makes low-light photography possible.

With the hardware and iOS upgrades, Apple has set up a showdown between the iPhone 11 Pro and professional cameras. Some have even ditched their DSLR cameras for this smartphone, but does it deliver enough to replace the need for professional cameras? Stick around for the comparison.

Features of the iPhone 11 Pro Camera

  • Dark-Mode top enables shooting photos in low-light settings such as dim-lit speakeasy cafes and bars. The f/2.0 aperture of the telephoto lens absorbs 40% more light
  • The fused cameras shares data making it easier to toggle or zoom.
  • An ultra-wide 12-megapixel lens with a 120 field of view and an f/2.4 aperture.
  • A 2X telephoto lens with optical image stabilization and an f/2.0 aperture
  • A wide 12-megapixel camera with an optical image stabilization feature and an f/1.8 aperture.
  • A front camera
  • Slofies – ability to record in 4K and shoot in slo-mo.
  • Zoom after the fact – the zooming range is 13mm for the ultra-wide camera, 26mm and 52mm for the wide and the telephoto lens, respectively.

While Huawei Mate 20 Pro boasts of being the first smartphone with a triple camera system. Apple took its time to deliver a system that works consistently. Plus, the expanded iOS 13.1.3 makes it easier to zoom or toggle from one camera to the next. Expect no stuttering as you’d get with other android smartphones with three-camera settings.

Though there have been a few murmurs about its controversial design, some people saying they do not like how the three lenses, microphone and LED flash, have all been bumped into one place protruding in a squircle-like bump. But once you get to zooming is when you'll understand why the cameras are positioned this way, and you're going to get over your tropophobia. Unlike in other android phones with row camera alignment where you have to move the phone left and right when framing shots, with the Pro, you zoom straight from the center.

iPhone 11 Pro Camera vs. DSLR.

With smartphone cameras now being just as valuable as standalone cameras, iPhones users have been hoping for state-of-the-art camera sensors in their iPhones for some time now. And the Pro doesn't disappoint.

  • Big Computing in place of DSLR Big Glass and Big Sensor

Camera capability is now an important aspect for smartphone enthusiasts when it comes to selecting a new handset, and Apple has designed the Pro's camera system with this knowledge in mind. The 8MP camera sensor designs of iPhones past have been abandoned for 12-megapixel cameras for improved light sensitivity.

The telephoto lens with an f/2.0 aperture opens wide to absorb 40% more light making it possible to capture photos in low-light settings.

  • 120-degree ultra-wide-angle portrait mode

The wide portrait mode is another feature. The iPhone 11 Pro 13mm ultra-wide-angle delivers a level of depth that would otherwise be impossible with small camera systems.

Though the ultra-wide-angle lacks Focus Pixels and optical image stabilization feature, it’s still effective when it comes to providing depth data. This allows you to switch to portrait mode on both the telephoto lens and the wide-angle camera.

The lens, though, is a 5 element; but it still does wonders for the 12-megapixel sensor. Each of the 5 layers of plastic (elements) function as standalone lenses, and when combined, they capture high-quality images. The Pro, therefore, doesn't rely on Deep Fusion physical calculations to produce detailed and vibrant images.

  • Smart HDR to preserve details from highlights and shadows

You also get deep Fusion, a smart process that uses machine learning to generate images with the best texture, tone, and lowest noise. You can now perform semantic rendering or map the tone on multiple scales as Deep Fusion understands stuff like face, skin, skies, trees that may be in the scene.

The process takes multiple input images of the same object, with different exposures and optimizes for more context resulting in vibrant and detailed photos. Deep Fusion smart HDR, therefore, captures the same level of details that would only be possible using a big sensor and glass just like in professional cameras.

What Others Say on the iPhone 11 Pro vs. DSLR Debate

  1. The closest thing there is to a camera

Wedding photographers Jamie and Lauren Eichar set out to determine if the iPhone 11 Pro was worth the hype. They set up a side-by-side comparison of an engagement shoot from both the DSLR and the Pro then asked fans to guess match the photos to the cameras. To the couple’s surprise, fans spotted no obvious differences.

The couple says, though they were expecting the Pro to shoot well, they hadn't hoped it would compare to their Canon 5D Mark IV. The ability to switch to a wider camera in portrait mode plus high-quality images sets the Pro camera close to professional cameras.

But according to the couple, there’s still room for improvement if the iPhone camera system is to replace professional cameras. For example, when using portrait mode, small details are left out due to the blur effect, e.g., For the couple, the Pro had a problem capturing the gap between the torso and the arms.

But even so, the couple says they could still deliver the Pro photos instead of the DSLR photos to the client, and the client would not tell the difference.

  • Captures highlights and shadows well

According to CNET's Andre Hoyle, the Pro's sensor and smart HDR are a game-changer. Previously, it would be impossible to capture a detailed image of a bay from below using a smartphone camera. But with the Pro's sensor, you no longer have to be in good light high up to capture those deep shots and bright highlights.

With Smart HDR, it's now easy to preserve or even pull maximum details from highlights and shadows. Also, when it comes to processing the images, the same methods used for the DSLR shots is suitable for the Pro images. For example, this McLaren image was captured using the Pro and DSLR camera. The Pro image was shot in the telephoto mode in raw format, and then the exposure and contrast were tweaked a bit in Lightroom format.

McLaren DSLR photo on the right and Pro photo on the left. Can you spot the difference?


Notice how the light reflects well in the iPhone image.

In conclusion, while there’s still room for improvement for the iPhone 11 Pro camera system, it is still a suitable replacement for the professional camera when stepping out for short breaks. You won't have to struggle with the cumbersome DSLR cameras for small tasks, the Pro triple-camera array and iOS 13.1.3 software will do the job. Don't forget to check out The Original Super Thin iPhone 11 Pro Case at Kase.