This week, Apple introduced the iPhone 14 series, and the Pro models stand out as the highlights. There is much to like, including the 48MP main cameras, powerful A16 CPU, and display cutouts. However, when Apple pretended image cropping was telephoto zoom, it made a fairly flamboyant manoeuvre.
However, the company is going so far as to claim it has “2x telephoto” camera capabilities when it’s simply cropping in from the main camera. The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max already have 12MP 3x telephoto lenses for zoom.
Smart HDR 4 aside, the telephoto lens on the new iPhone 14 Pro models also has an Aperture of 2.8, the same Aperture as the 13 Pro models. I will not expect good zoom capabilities from this phone at all since 2.8 Aperture on a 3X zoom lens does not let in much light. pic.twitter.com/BYsud55Zmf
— TechWhirl Ultimate (@TechWhirlUlt) September 12, 2022
Cropping is misrepresented by Apple as telephoto zooming.
By cutting into the centre of the viewfinder and using the centre 12MP of the 48MP sensor, Apple claims it can provide a “2x telephoto” option.
Product manager Vitor Silva stated during the iPhone 14 series presentation, “With this technique, we can go beyond the three fixed lenses of the Pro camera system, adding a new 2x telephoto option for our users. “We produce a full-resolution photo and 4K video with optical quality using the centre 12MP of the new sensor.”
Apple’s website (seen above) similarly makes the “2x telephoto” claim, referring to it as “optical quality.” Of course, this does not have an optical or separate 2x telephoto zoom. Simply put, it’s digital zooming done with the primary (non-telephoto) camera. This technique doesn’t even seem to make use of image fusion technology, which combines and processes images from the primary and telephoto cameras. Additionally, it doesn’t appear to employ any extra software gimmicks, such as Google’s Super Res Zoom or multi-frame image processing.
Apple doesn’t appear to be performing any more tricks to enhance the image beyond cropping from the primary sensor.
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Apple’s inclusion of a 2x option in its camera app is acceptable, but the terms “2x telephoto” and “optical quality” are undoubtedly intended to mislead users into believing that this feature goes beyond digital zoom. Or perhaps cropping.
The “2x telephoto” option that Apple claims to offer is another dangerous step for the entire smartphone market. In an effort to surpass Apple, we can definitely see more manufacturers cropping in from a camera with an even greater resolution and boasting 4x or 5x telephoto capabilities. In actuality, the creator of the iPhone wouldn’t be the first to muddy the waters in this manner.
Other Android manufacturers have in the past fabricated zoom promises.
In the past, a few Android manufacturers have cheated with the camera’s zoom by passing off digital cropping as optical zoom. The 108MP main camera of Realme’s Realme 8 Pro in 2021 was advertised as having both “3x optical zoom” and “3x ultra zoom,” respectively. Even the Galaxy S20, S20 Plus, S21, and S21 Plus from Samsung had high-resolution cameras and advertised “3x hybrid-optic zoom” or “hybrid-optical zoom.” The usage of “optic” or “optical” is still an attempt to disguise hybrid zoom, but less egregiously than Apple and Realme’s assertion.
Nowadays, cropping is more beneficial, but it is still nothing new.
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We’re pleased to see Apple adopting high-resolution cameras because they provide unmistakably more detail under perfect conditions and pave the way for 8K recording. Apple’s selection of a 48MP sensor also seems to be fairly comparable to the 50MP Isocell GN1 found in flagship devices like the Vivo and Pixel 6 series. Therefore, you are undoubtedly looking at a high-end, contemporary camera sensor here.
The business’s choice to label image cropping as a “2x telephoto” zoom is undoubtedly deceptive. We hope Android manufacturers won’t adopt this tactic and declare that their 108MP cameras have a “8x telephoto” zoom capability. However, considering the fixation some OEMs have with drawing Apple comparisons and winning them, we don’t hold out much hope.