Nilay Patel, for The Verge:
[…] the iPhone 11 Pro cameras are an enormous improvement over the XS, and they beat the Pixel and Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10 Plus in most of our side-by-side comparisons. In fact, I think the iPhone 11 Pro is the best smartphone camera on the market right now.
Make sure to take a good look at all of Nilay’s samples. While the year-old Pixel 3 indeed has a lot less detail, especially in Night Sight mode, I do like the look of many of the Note 10 photos more. Their post-processing system still needs more work but Samsung really is in point with their cameras recently.
From my conversations with Apple, semantic rendering basically goes like this:
- The iPhone starts taking photos to a buffer the instant you open the camera app. So by the time you actually press the shutter button, it’s captured four underexposed frames and the photo you want. Then it grabs one overexposed frame. (This is all basically the same as the iPhone XS and the Pixel 3, except the Pixel doesn’t grab that overexposed frame.)
- Smart HDR looks for things in the photos it understands: the sky, faces, hair, facial hair, things like that.
- Then it uses the additional detail from the underexposed and overexposed frames to selectively process those areas of the image: hair gets sharpened, the sky gets de-noised but not sharpened, faces get relighted to make them look more even, and facial hair gets sharpened up.
- Smart HDR is also now less aggressive with highlights and shadows. Highlights on faces aren’t corrected as aggressively as before because those highlights make photos look more natural, but other highlights and shadows are corrected to regain detail.
- The whole image gets saved and shows up in your camera roll.
- This all happens instantly every time you take a photo.
I wasn’t a fan of Smart HDR on the XS and I actually preferred the look of the iPhone Xs shots when shooting backlit subjects — they weren’t as flat or dull.
The only place where I truly missed 3D Touch was the keyboard: you could press down anywhere on the keyboard to move the cursor around on the XS. With Haptic Touch, you press and hold on the spacebar.
I am going to miss this a lot. I tried using the Spacebar method and it’s going to take a while to get used to it.