The reason iPhone 15 Pro limits photos to 24 megapixels

Apple said it intentionally limited the 24-megapixel resolution on the main camera of the iPhone 15 Pro duo to make photos more harmonious.

Similar to the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max, Apple equips the main camera of the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max with a sensor with a resolution of 48 megapixels. However, the new smartphone duo currently only produces images with a maximum resolution of 24 megapixels.

Responding to Petapixel , Jon McCormack, Apple's Vice President of Camera Software Engineering, said the company combines camera hardware with software, then takes data from multiple 24-megapixel photos and raw data from the sensor. 48 megapixels to produce better images.

"The 24-megapixel photo has a little bit more dynamic range," McCormack explains. "Because when shooting at 24 megapixel resolution, the camera records multiple images, then selects 12 high-range shots and 12 low-range shots and merges them. Basically, it limits the amount of processing at 24 but still takes advantage of all the additional dynamic range with 12 shots per range and the detail of the 48 megapixel sensor."

Camera on iPhone 15 Pro. Photo: Tuan Hung

Dynamic Range, or dynamic range, is the difference between the brightest and darkest parts of an image. With individual photos, images can have different exposure levels. But when mixed together it is possible to create a single image with a wider dynamic range. This helps the final image have higher brightness and greater detail.

Also according to McCormack, choosing 24 megapixels as the maximum resolution helps the camera have no shutter lag when shooting - something that cannot be done with 48 megapixel photos. "At full 48 megapixel resolution, it means the shutter takes more time instead of instantaneous processing," he added.

Maxime Veron, iPhone product marketing director, said Apple's approach is to make users as convenient and comfortable as possible. "We aim to process everything in the background, so that every process is invisible but still fast and unobtrusive enough for users to capture great photos and videos, helping them record beautiful and authentic moments with just one touch".

In fact, the iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max still take 48-megapixel photos, but only in ProRAW professional mode. In addition to this mode, the main camera also takes 48-megapixel HEIF photos with four times the usual resolution.

The iPhone 15 series launched on September 12. In particular, the Pro duo has a main camera with a 48 megapixel sensor, 24 mm focal length, f/1.78 aperture, and OIS optical image stabilization support. Wide-angle camera uses 12 megapixel sensor, 13 mm focal length, f/2.2 aperture. The telephoto lens on the 15 Pro Max can zoom 5x optically, while the 15 Pro version stays at 3x like the previous generation. In addition, the two new Pro versions also use Sony Lidar sensors instead of brands like Lumentum and WIN Semi as before.

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