IPhone 13 Pro received a big camera upgrade – but users didn’t like it


When Apple designed the new camera app for iPhone 13, it hoped to improve on older handsets by learning oil painting techniques – but has it really made matters better?

In an interview with Wallpaper * magazine, Apple’s design team explained the interdisciplinary approach of their Cupertino studio – once described by designer Jony Ive as a place where “industrial designers sat next to it. ‘a font designer, seated next to a sound designer, who sits next to a motion graphics expert, who sits next to a color designer, who sits next to someone who develops objects in flexible materials.

This multi-media approach clearly informs even the processing techniques used in the iPhone camera app. Wallpaper * writes that “the iPhone 13’s camera represents a substantial upgrade, with the Pro models benefiting from a triple lens system with macro mode and 6x optical zoom.

As UI designer Johnnie Manzari explains, the camera now has a new portrait mode for stills and a cinematic mode for movies. Both exploit the emotional aesthetic of shifting perception. depth. “

Manzari adds: “We have done a lot of research into the history of portraiture as an art and craft form, going back to oil painting and how it influenced photographic traditions.

“The information we got was about the importance of eye focus, background processing and lighting. This has led to the features we’ve added to the iPhone over the years. , which balance these timeless principles in an accessible and more intuitive way.

Alan Dye, vice president of human interface design at Apple, adds, “It sounds a lot more human and there’s more to it, even though it’s an artifact of analog photography. “

What’s the problem?

The potential to capture a more analog, older feel for modern digital photography is certainly intriguing – and there is certainly some demand for it. Instagram’s original logo was based on a Polaroid camera, while the popular photography app Dispo allows users to take photos that don’t “develop” until the next day.

However, there can be a wedge between what Apple intends to do and how users experience them.

Since the launch of the iPhone 13, a number of users have taken to the threads to express their displeasure with the photos taken by the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max – in large part. partly because of the processing which smooths the image and loses important details.

a Reddit post with thousands of upvotes, complains about the “oil paint” effect in the iPhone 13 Pro photographs, comparing side by side with more “natural” camera shots of the iPhone 11 Pro.

iPhone 13 Pro white, with the back side and camera lenses showing

IPhone 13 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

The first comment of the article reads: “I don’t know why modern smartphone cameras prefer (sic) the appearance of oil paint rather than noise in the image but keeping some details. “

Another thread on the MacRumors forum is titled “Really bad photos with merged iPhone 13 Pro (+ Max)”, where users complain about the inability to turn off this processing. The comments say “I have tried everything and there is no way to avoid this” or “At least give us the option to turn off Smart HDR”.

There is a whole thread on Apple’s support site of users asking for the option to turn it off, which seems to have been possible on previous iPhones but has not been implemented. Apple’s support website says, “By default, the HDR version of a photo is saved in Photos. On iPhone X and earlier models, you can save the non-HDR version as well.

Thus, the new models appear to restrict the possibility of dispensing with this particular treatment enhancement.

Apple’s design team know how to make a great product and draw inspiration from countless disciplines, but it’s easy to forget that, more than anything else, people like to control what features they should use.


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