iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
3

I did some comparisons over the weekend between by previous iPhone 12 Mini and my new iPhone 13 Pro.

Best case scenario, in good light I can't see much of a difference when comparing the main cameras (26mm wide) which is by far the one I use the most.

Worst case scenario, I think the 13 Pro camera is actually worse in good light.  Maybe I got a lemon, but I'd advise you to check for yourself if you recently got one of these.

Here's one example.  The first two photos below are the full frames:

12 Mini full shot

13 Pro full shot

And the following two photos are 100% crops of the left center edge:

12 Mini crop 100%

13 Pro crop 100%.  Look at the wood and the leaves in the upper left corner and compare to the 12 Mini crop.

Both of these pictures were shot in bright sun, so there's no camera shake involved.  I used the native camera app which is what you see above.  I also shot RAW photos with the Lightroom app to see if it made any difference, and if anything it made the 13 Pro shot look even more blurry.

This is only one example, but I did several comparisons both indoors and outdoors and got the same result:  they either look virtually identical or the 12 Mini photo looks better.

I'd be interested to see if anyone else is having the same issue with the 13 Pro and the rest of the 13 series.  Unfortunately, I think I'm going to end up returning this phone.  This is not ideal for a device that costs $1000.

Bob A L Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
1

Thanks for sharing.  My assessment is that I'm not sure what's  up.  I can see the difference you refer to, but unable to dig into what I think about it as I would not want to make any harsh claims without seeing the full size jpegs straight from the phones to play with.  But my initial thoughts are - I see the difference, but not sure it  bothers me. Most people familiar with traditional digital photography have always had some problem with oversharpening done by phone cameras, so I could wonder if this is a case of reducing that amount of sharpening in the iphone 13 (a good thing, not a bad thing). I can easily apply some sharpening to the iphone 13 shot and make it much closer than posted shots. And I would rather add sharpening if I wanted to in post than have too much baked in the original. Then also I would not want to base my decision on one photo from each. I would want to see a pattern of the same difference on multiple photos. There could even be some difference in the downsizing of the two images by whatever means was used, so judging from down sized images is not good practice.

Anyway thanks for your efforts in sharing with us and good luck in whichever way you decide to go on this one.

OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
1

Thanks for your thoughts.

If you click on the images, you can see the full 12 megapixel files.  No editing was done other than I ran the photos through Lightroom to remove location data.

As far as sharpening differences, I did try shooting RAW and adjusting the sharpening and noise reduction to my liking and neither seemed to improve the issue to any significant degree.

If this is a common thing though, I don't understand how Apple can go from a 1/2.5 sensor to a 1/1.7 sensor and not have a significant improvement in pixel level image quality.

firoze
firoze Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

I downloaded both full res photos and tried to add Sharpness/Definition to the 13Pro photo on my iPad Pro and MBP. No luck, the 12mini photo still looked better. Could you post any more samples please? I’m interested because a quick test at a Apple Store of my 12mini vs a 13Pro also led me to believe the 12mini was a tad sharper and produced a more pleasing photo.

 firoze's gear list:firoze's gear list
Sony RX100 Leica X Vario Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
Bob A L Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

I was able to add some sharpening to the 13 shot and make it more like the 12.  But I also spent more time studying the two and at one point in time thought that possibly the 13 photo could have actually been focused  slightly further away than the 12, but not sure.  But in the end, if it were not for knowing the difference was there and comparing the two, the shot from the 13 was perfectly acceptable if not preferred. This may be that like many others I have always thought that i would prefer less sharpening than default levels on my iphone 11.

OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Re:  firoze,

Yeah, I'll put up another one when I get home later today.

Re:  Bob A L

I wondered if maybe the larger aperture would make some closer objects be slightly out of focus, but I think the various elements of the photo were far enough away from the lens that it shouldn't be apparent at that distance; not that I would expect to see much difference comparing f1.5 to f1.6.

StoneJack Contributing Member • Posts: 960
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
2

thats difference in sensor sizes. Smaller sensor makes everything looks sharper. Bigger adds some natural bokeh, I guess.

 StoneJack's gear list:StoneJack's gear list
Nikon D7500 Nikon Z6 Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 55-200mm f/4-5.6G VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 35mm F1.8G Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm F1.8G +6 more
Bob A L Veteran Member • Posts: 4,687
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
1

Really interesting and thought provoking. Tiny increments for sure, but in the 12, smaller sensor = shorter actual focal length for the same equivalent, which also means smaller physical lens opening for same aperture f# - which does add up to deeper dof for the 12 and possibly sharper edges.

Really out there though - I'll have to chew on that one for a while.

Besides from current samples in this thread, I have no problem with the slightly different results and might even prefer them.

Ainisru Regular Member • Posts: 289
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Anyone's thoughts on possible lens variation? Possibly the 13 Pro getting on the wrong bell curve, ending on the soft side, or even the 12 Mini getting a more sharp lens compared to other 12 Mini's? 🤔

 Ainisru's gear list:Ainisru's gear list
Sony RX100 III Canon EOS 5D Nikon D200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 Nikon D800 +4 more
OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Ainisru wrote:

Anyone's thoughts on possible lens variation? Possibly the 13 Pro getting on the wrong bell curve, ending on the soft side, or even the 12 Mini getting a more sharp lens compared to other 12 Mini's? 🤔

Absolutely a possibility.  Though I've found over the years that Apple's quality control is pretty good, and it's harder to screw up a prime lens than a zoom lens with more moving parts.  That's why I was curious if others have found similar issues with their 13 Pros.

Regarding the previous comment about the larger sensor and "bokeh", the 13 Pro has the same size sensor as the Canon S95 from back in the day, and that camera had an f2 lens.  You'd have to be pretty close to something to get any narrow depth of field effect.  In the pictures I posted above, the wooden posts that are blurred are around 8-10 feet away, and the tree leaves are 50+ feet away.  I don't think at those distances and at this sensor size that it would be an issue.

RedFox88 Forum Pro • Posts: 30,719
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

tomatoketchup wrote:

If this is a common thing though, I don't understand how Apple can go from a 1/2.5 sensor to a 1/1.7 sensor and not have a significant improvement in pixel level image quality.

The difference in size between those two isn’t that significant. One is 50% bigger but still rather small. Photos in daylight will look similar from most image sensor sizes. There might be different image processing with iOS 15 that needs refinement.

why did you replace your one year old phone?

flamel New Member • Posts: 1
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
3

I found some samples between 12 max and 13 max here: https://www.xavierstuder.com/2021/09/premier-test-photo-iphone-12-pro-max-vs-iphone-13-pro-max/

The guy didn't post the originals, but based on those resized samples, the 12 pro max camera is, at first sight, definitely worst in corners. As for the middle of the frame (even though it's difficult to judge this from these samples), it seems to me they're quite even, with more detail either on the 12 or the 13 depending on the shot.

Aberaeron Veteran Member • Posts: 9,507
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Looks to me as if there is a softness issue in the whole top third and possibly everywhere apart from the centre of the images generally. Maybe that's just me though?

 Aberaeron's gear list:Aberaeron's gear list
Fujifilm X20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G7 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Sony a7 III +26 more
OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
1

RedFox88 wrote:

The difference in size between those two isn’t that significant. One is 50% bigger but still rather small. Photos in daylight will look similar from most image sensor sizes. There might be different image processing with iOS 15 that needs refinement.

why did you replace your one year old phone?

Maybe the computational photography is responsible for so much of the final image that the difference in sensor is minimal.

Back in the early 2010s when I got my Canon S90 (1/1.7 sensor), there was a noticeable improvement in image quality compared to my prior SD1100 (1/2.5 sensor), but obviously that camera didn't have any of the computational stuff as the recent iPhones.  I guess I expected to see a similar level of improvement going to the 13 Pro.

I bought the 12 Mini last year with the intention of upgrading to the Pro this year (didn't travel as much as usual last year & wanted to try the smaller form factor to see how it did for day to day use).

I'll be holding on to my 12 Mini for the time being; ended up sending the 13 Pro back to Apple for a refund.

OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

firoze wrote:

I downloaded both full res photos and tried to add Sharpness/Definition to the 13Pro photo on my iPad Pro and MBP. No luck, the 12mini photo still looked better. Could you post any more samples please? I’m interested because a quick test at a Apple Store of my 12mini vs a 13Pro also led me to believe the 12mini was a tad sharper and produced a more pleasing photo.

Here are a few more samples.

Both were shot in a horizontal orientation, but I cropped away about half of each picture (I have some photo prints hanging on the wall that I didn't want to post publicly).  The part you see hasn't been resized, so it's still 100% magnification when you open the original file link.

The most noticeable difference in this one is that the cat clock is blurrier on the 13 Pro shot.

13 Pro

12 Mini

firoze
firoze Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

Thank you for posting these. This is exactly what I saw in my 13P test shots - a slight softness. So we can rule out this being due to a defective phone, it’s just the way the 13P is.

 firoze's gear list:firoze's gear list
Sony RX100 Leica X Vario Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
OP tomatoketchup Forum Member • Posts: 72
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

firoze wrote:

Thank you for posting these. This is exactly what I saw in my 13P test shots - a slight softness. So we can rule out this being due to a defective phone, it’s just the way the 13P is.

Sure no problem, though it's a shame if this is just how the camera is.  I was hoping I got a defective model.

Maybe the aperture has gotten too large?  With standalone cameras, stopping down the lens usually improves sharpness across the frame, but unfortunately you can't do anything about the aperture on an iPhone.  Even great cameras like the Fuji X100 series tend to be soft when shot wide open, so I imagine designing an f1.5 lens on such a small scale would be a challenge.

If there is anyone following this thread who plans on getting the iPhone 13 regular or 13 mini, I'd be curious to hear your experiences since those phones use the wide lens/sensor from last year's 12 Pro Max.

firoze
firoze Regular Member • Posts: 223
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini

tomatoketchup wrote:

If there is anyone following this thread who plans on getting the iPhone 13 regular or 13 mini, I'd be curious to hear your experiences since those phones use the wide lens/sensor from last year's 12 Pro Max.

I do have samples from the 12mini and 13mini 1x Wide and .5 UltraWide cameras. Here they are. My impression is that the 13mini photos do have a bit more "pop" but the sharpness appears to be the similar. I also took sample shots from the iPhone 13, but since they are identical to the 13mini, I won't post them here.

Off-topic observation: The screen on the 13mini is a bit brighter than the 12mini (at max brightness with TrueTone, Auto Brightness etc turned off), but to my eyes it is not a big difference.

12mini 1x

13mini 1x

12mini .5x

13mini .5x

 firoze's gear list:firoze's gear list
Sony RX100 Leica X Vario Leica V-Lux (Typ 114)
coso dp
coso dp Regular Member • Posts: 282
Mine is the same

Late to the thread, but I noticed the same thing on my 13P. 26mm looks like the worse camera of the three. And quite often my iPhone 8 is sharper. The 13P is sometimes better, especially in low light and with HDR, but in bright light the iPhone 8 seems able to resolve more detail. I also noticed more softness in the center/upper part. Since we are many that perceived this I suppose they're all the same. It still captures great photos but probably this is a result of bigger pixels and less DOF. Or maybe a slight but very diffused manufacturing defect. Who knows. If it is I don't think things will get better in production for several months, looks like the camera module in Vietnam is the bottleneck in the supply chain right now and I don't expect the quality control to be super tight.

Charlene_S Senior Member • Posts: 1,829
Re: iPhone 13 Pro main camera is worse than my 12 Mini
1

tomatoketchup wrote:

I did some comparisons over the weekend between by previous iPhone 12 Mini and my new iPhone 13 Pro.

Best case scenario, in good light I can't see much of a difference when comparing the main cameras (26mm wide) which is by far the one I use the most.

Worst case scenario, I think the 13 Pro camera is actually worse in good light. Maybe I got a lemon, but I'd advise you to check for yourself if you recently got one of these.

Here's one example. The first two photos below are the full frames:

12 Mini full shot

13 Pro full shot

And the following two photos are 100% crops of the left center edge:

12 Mini crop 100%

13 Pro crop 100%. Look at the wood and the leaves in the upper left corner and compare to the 12 Mini crop.

Both of these pictures were shot in bright sun, so there's no camera shake involved. I used the native camera app which is what you see above. I also shot RAW photos with the Lightroom app to see if it made any difference, and if anything it made the 13 Pro shot look even more blurry.

This is only one example, but I did several comparisons both indoors and outdoors and got the same result: they either look virtually identical or the 12 Mini photo looks better.

I'd be interested to see if anyone else is having the same issue with the 13 Pro and the rest of the 13 series. Unfortunately, I think I'm going to end up returning this phone. This is not ideal for a device that costs $1000.

I read your post and yesterday noticed that some  photos I  took of grand kids were soft and no matter how much sharpening I applied in native edit mode they were still soft. (I always use focus lock.) Then I compared them to the first photos I took right after I received my phoneafter and they were sharp and crisp. I realized the soft photos appeared after I had set the photo quality to the vibrant setting. Took two photos today if same subject/ same light, locked focus and again noticed the pic taken in vibrant mode was softer. Hopes this helps.

I--
Charlene Ahrens
charahrens.smugmug.com

 Charlene_S's gear list:Charlene_S's gear list
Olympus E-330 Olympus E-510 Olympus E-30 Nikon D600 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR +6 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads