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A photographer breaks down which iPhone camera features are worth an upgrade.

A Photographer Breaks Down Which iPhone Camera Features Are Worth An Upgrade

You might not need to shell out for a new phone to get great pics.

To upgrade or not to upgrade? That’s the question on everyone’s mind when the shiny, new iPhone drops. Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max release Sept. 16: They come in an eye-catching purple color, include the new Dynamic Island, and have a few updates to the way you take pictures — like the 48-megapixel Main camera. But are these updates are worth your money? To get a better idea of what the new phone can do, Elite Daily spoke to photographer Idara Ekpoh to find out which iPhone 14 Pro camera features are worth shelling out cash for an upgrade.

If you have an iPhone, you’ve got all the makings of a professional photo shoot right in your hand — lighting, focus, zoom, you name it. Idara Ekpoh, a photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona, uses her professional camera on most jobs, but she’s also been taking photos with her iPhone since 2018, so she knows what to look for in a new device. The new iPhone 14 Pro camera caught the professional photographer’s attention, thanks to the improved Telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom and impressive low-light capture capabilities.

OK, that’s all great, but what if you already have the iPhone 13 Pro or even the 12 Pro or 11 Pro — do you really need to cough up your fall budget for the new phone? To help you out, Ekpoh breaks down all the camera specs and shares which OG iPhones still take pretty legit pics. (Yep, you might not need to upgrade.)

What To Look For In An iPhone Camera

Ekpoh, like many iPhone users, does her due diligence before she commits to an upgrade. The 28-year-old photographer makes sure the new phone camera comes equipped with the features she relies on the most:

  • Low-light capture.
  • Overall camera sharpness to guarantee her subjects will always be in focus.
  • ProRAW.

As a photographer, Ekpoh uses ProRAW, which combines a standard format plus iPhone image processing, to get the most out of the editing process. “When I go into editing, you’re capturing more information that allows you to really push the limit of your photos while editing,” she explains. Shooting with ProRAW also helps maintain the quality of the photo through the editing process across programs like Photoshop and Lightroom.

ProRAW has been around since the iPhone 12 Pro, so you won’t have to upgrade for it — but it does get a boost with the 48-megapixel camera in the iPhone 14 Pro.

Best iPhone 14 Pro Camera Features

The iPhone 14 Pro has a lot of similar features as previous Pro generations, but almost all of the 14 Pro camera features have updates you won’t find on the other models.

48-Megapixel Main Camera

Ekpoh was hype about the improved Main camera. “I was honestly so shocked because the idea of my phone being able to capture that much is kind of crazy,” she says. Note: You’ll need to shoot with ProRAW to get photos in 48 megapixels — the default is still 12 megapixels without ProRAW.

The 48-megapixel camera is also a first for iPhone with its quad-pixel sensor, which allows it to gather 20% more light — showing off more detail and less noise. TBH, this feature is very cool, but if you’re not going to do tons of editing like Ekpoh does with ProRAW photos, you might be fine with the cameras on the older Pro models.


Low-Light Capture

“Being able to capture light is really important, not just for when I'm shooting as a photographer, but even when I'm taking pictures of friends when we're out at night,” Ekpoh says, intrigued by the iPhone 14 Pro’s new capabilities.

The iPhone 14 Pro takes the lighting function to the next level with a new sensor in the Ultra Wide camera (which is twice the size of the 13 Pro’s sensor). Combined with the Photonic Engine and Deep Fusion process — taking the best parts of images on a pixel-by-pixel basis — you get 3x better photos in low light. And you’ll get 2x better photos in low light on the Main and Telephoto cameras. Night Mode also works twice as fast as it does on the iPhone 13 Pro.

Autofocus On TrueDepth Front Camera

All iPhone 14 models come with the new autofocus on the front-facing camera, a first for the iPhone. It’s great for better group selfies and improved photos in low light, thanks to a faster aperture that allows for a 38% increase in light capture compared to older phones. You might even see more detail in your self-portraits — especially if you turn on ProRAW.

“I think they've made a lot of improvements with this front-facing camera to keep your shots in focus, especially when you have those group shots,” Ekpoh says, adding that it’s a bonus since it’s easier to take a self-portrait when you’re looking at it.

Courtesy of Idara Ekpoh

More Zoom Power

With the Ultra Wide and Telephoto cameras (and the 48-megapixel sensor), the Phone 14 Pro has four zoom options with optical quality: 0.5x, 1x, 2x, and 3x. The new sensor gives you the 2x zoom from what acts as a fourth camera. TL;DR: it should be better quality than when you toggle to 2x on your current iPhone Pro.

Ekpoh usually uses a 20-70 zoom lens on her professional camera, and iPhone 14 Pro’s new zoom capabilities have her excited about what she can do with them. “I use [the 20-70 zoom lens] for everything because it takes great photos at a wider lens, closer up, whatever I wanna do, so being able to do a similar thing with my iPhone is really exciting,” she says.

Which Older iPhones Are Still Great For Photos?

Exploring the new-new is fun and all, but an upgrade to the 14 Pro isn’t the only way to keep taking great pictures. Ekpoh says she loved shooting with her iPhone X and iPhone 11 Pro Max when they launched in 2017 and 2019, respectively.

In fact, most of the photos from the Shot On iPhone section of her website were taken with her iPhone 12 Pro Max or iPhone 11 Pro Max, two phones which Ekpoh says are still very capable of snapping great photos. So, good news, OG iPhone stans, you don’t have to make the switch if it’s not the best time to throw down a cool $1,000 for a new phone. Plus, if your phone is compatible with iOS 16, there are plenty of features in the software update to make your phone feel new.

Courtesy of Idara Ekpoh

As a photographer, Ekpoh is excited about the 14 Pro camera improvements, but since Apple is building on previous Pro cameras, if you’re not dying to get 48 megapixels, you might be fine with the version you have. No matter what camera you use, she emphasizes framing your shot. “What makes for any great photo is how you frame it,” Ekpoh says. She suggests playing around with shooting at a lower angle or setting your subject off-center. “Those are the kinds of things that will improve the photos you're taking with your iPhone,” she adds.

To decide if you’ll be framing with a 14 Pro, here are the numbers for the iPhone 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max: They start at $999 for a 128 GB phone and $1,099 for a 128 GB phone, respectively.

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There you have it. The iPhone 14 Pro is rocking some camera upgrades, but it may not be a must-buy if you’re already using a Pro camera — unless you need the new Dynamic Island, of course.