Our first day with the iPhone XR we went exploring the forests of Hamilton, Ontario. After a couple weeks shooting on the iPhone XS, I had a good idea of what to expect. The two phones have identical wide angle cameras, just the telephoto lens is missing on the XR.
The standout feature is clearly Smart HDR, which really takes the dynamic range of these photos to the next level. When Apple talked about the camera advancements at the keynote there was nothing they said to make me expect a real leap this generation, but it turns out that this is the biggest camera advancement we’ve seen in years.
I’ve been shooting comparisons with against the iPhone 7, iPhone X, Pixel 3 and even Canon 5D mkIV, and the XR/XS has really stood out against all of them. Compared to previous iPhones, I especially see more color information in the shadows, and rescued detail in the extreme highlights. The dynamic range seems to reach slightly further than the Pixel 3, and in some cases even the 5D.
I went into a lot more detail about how the new camera works with developer/designer Sebastiaan de With on episode 34 of the podcast. He is the designer of the camera app Halide and had a lot of great insights.
These images have had their colours processed in Lightroom, for a few unedited originals scroll to the bottom.
When people first started testing the new iPhones there was some controversy around the the perceived smoothness in the skin of selfie photos. The amount you see it depends on the lighting conditions but Apple has responded, saying the plan to adjust the way selfies look in an update.
Because Apple is applying it’s extended dynamic range full time, instead processing a photo after you take it, we are seeing huge improvements in features like video, panoramas, and Live Photos. The exception is videos shot over 30 frames per second.
One underrated feature in Live Photos is the ability to create long exposures. The phone even stabilizes your shot so you’re able to get a sharp image even without a tripod.
I didn’t shoot many night photos with the XR, but it has the same improvements I’ve been seeing on the XS. It’s sensor is 30% larger, with improves the noise and colour reproduction in the challenging lighting situations. Again, Smart HDR brings night photos to a new level by preserving detail in the brightly lit windows that I would never have a expected a phone to be capable of.