Greg Morris

Designer, Pretend Photographer, Dad

Neglecting The Telephoto Lens

Three years ago I was dismissive of the zoom lens that featured on the bigger versions of the iPhone. In part because I didn’t want a bigger phone, in part because the lens didn’t offer me much at that time, and there maybe me talking myself out of spending more money in there too.

Whilst many others, and Apple, have never been dismissive of the ability to get that little closer to your subject, they haven’t given it the attention it really needs. It terms of ability it often comes behind the main (or wide) lens, loosing quite a lot of detail. Although the telephoto lens is improved on the iPhone 12 Pro Max with a bigger sensor and wider ƒ/2.2 aperture, it still seems to lag behind the main sensor.

Yet in stark contrast to my thoughts a few years ago, I think the telephoto lens is used the vast majority of the time. Taping the 2x on the screen gets you a more representative image of what your eye is seeing (at 52 mm equivalent) and gets you closer to what you’re trying to shoot. In many situations it becomes the default.

Portraits, photos with a subject, information shots — in fact pretty much anything other than a landscape or group photo become the telephotos stomping ground. Yet the quality of the shots just don’t stand up to images on the wide lens. I am hoping Apple addresses this going forward, as they clearly see photography as being a huge selling point of the iPhone.

Perhaps next year we will see the larger sensor triple down to the smaller iPhone pro, and the pro max can push on even further by introducing lager sensors and better lenses. Using the iPhone 12 Pro Max for just short time has already proven handy to get a further 0.5x towards a subject I am trying to shoot.

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