Apple’s Photonic Engine technology improves camera performance in low light

The iPhone 14 offers a 49 percent improvement in low-light performance and it’s all thanks to a tweak Apple made to its Deep Fusion imaging channel. During its Far Out event on Wednesday, Apple detailed all the camera enhancements coming to the 2022 iPhone lineup, with the company’s new “Photonic Engine” leading the list of improvements. When you go to take a night shot with the new iPhones, Apple’s Deep Fusion image processing algorithm kicks in sooner than before, resulting in better colors and faster performance.

In the iPhone 14 Pro, Apple claims that the Photonic Engine offers improved low-light performance across all of the device’s cameras. The front, telephoto, and main cameras are up to two times better at capturing night scenes, while the ultra-wide is up to three times better in less-than-ideal lighting. A new action mode available on all four new iPhone models allows smartphones to use all of their sensors to capture steadier video.


Apple is pairing those software improvements with new hardware. For the first time, the company has opted for a 48-megapixel main sensor in one of its Pro models. Going against industry trends, Apple stuck with 12-megapixel sensors, while many of its Android peers began sell phones with 48 MP and 108 MP primary cameras. That allowed them to take advantage of techniques like pixel binning to allow their phones to capture more detailed photos in optimal lighting conditions, something Apple will now do as well. In most cases, the iPhone 14 Pro will use its 48MP camera to take 12MP photos, thereby maximizing the amount of light it can capture. However, the phone’s ProRAW mode will also allow you to capture full 48MP files, opening the door for plenty of editing opportunities in post. Another advantage of the new sensor is that the iPhone 14 Pro will offer a true 2x zoom.

Apple has also equipped the main camera with a new glass. It now sports an f/1.78 aperture lens with seven elements and a 24mm equivalent focal length. Apple said 24mm is great for a variety of subjects, including portraits, but it’s definitely on the wide end of what you’d want for taking photos of people.


Other hardware enhancements include a new ultra-wide camera with 1.4µm pixel pitch that offers better macro mode. Apple has also completely redesigned the flash module in the iPhone 14 Pro. According to the company, it will now automatically take into account the focal length of the photo you are about to take, which will theoretically lead to better results. In practice, you’ll still be firing the flash directly at your subject, so expect strong light. The iPhone 14 doesn’t have the redesigned module, but Apple says the flash on standard models is 10 percent brighter. For selfies, there’s a 12 MP front-facing camera with autofocus, a feature also found on the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus.

On the video front, the iPhone 14 Pro’s cinematic mode can now capture 4K video at up to 30 frames per second, though you can stick to 24fps for more movie-like results. As before, the iPhone 14 Pro can capture ProRes content at 4K and 30 frames per second on all but the 128GB model, which is limited to 1080p due to storage limitations.

Follow all the news of the Apple iPhone event right here.

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