Apple debuted with the iPhone 14, a cool new imaging feature called Photonic Engine. Here’s what it does and how it will affect your iPhone experience.
If you’re interested in smartphone photography, you’ve likely heard the term computational photography. It is basically the use of algorithms and software to help take better photos with the small cameras of smartphones. This is how your iPhone can take great photos without being as big as a DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Apple’s Photonic Engine is a computational imaging technology that revamps the iPhone’s image processing suite to improve images captured in medium to low light conditions. It helps iPhone provide better color accuracy, more detail, and higher brightness in photos.
According to Apple, you can expect to see over twice the medium to low light performance in photos taken from the various iPhone cameras. However, the effect varies depending on the specific camera. For example, Apple says the ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will do Watch up to 3x improvement. On the other hand, pictures Only 2x better An ultra-fast shooter for the iPhone 14 or 14 Plus.
How it works?
Apple says the Photonic Engine significantly improves the quality of photos taken from all iPhone cameras by using its own Deep Fusion technology earlier in the imaging process than on previous generation iPhones and on uncompressed photos. Deep Fusion is also a computational imaging technology introduced by Apple in iOS 13.2 For the iPhone 11 series. It has since appeared on all newer iPhones, except for the second generation iPhone SE.
Deep Fusion uses nine images taken at different exposure levels and combines them to produce the best possible image. During processing, the technology goes through pixel by pixel for all millions of pixels to select the best elements from each of the nine images to use in the final image. This iPhone helps reduce noise and improve details.
Now by turning on Deep Fusion earlier in its image capture pipeline, Apple claims it can preserve finer textures, provide better colors, and preserve more detail. So you basically get everything that Deep Fusion enabled on the previous generation iPhones and more.
What iPhones have an optical drive?
Photonic Engine is only available on the iPhone 14 series, which includes the iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max. It will likely be available on future iPhone models in its current or upgraded form, but unfortunately, it is not compatible with older iPhones. This is likely due to the iPhone 14 series changing in camera hardware from that of the iPhone 13 series. There are a few things that are pending, like the iPhone 14 uses the same basic shooter as the iPhone 13 Pro, but there are quite a few additional updates .
How to use the optical engine
Unlike night mode and similar features that you can enable or disable with a toggle on your iPhone, Photonic Engine runs in the background and works automatically by the iPhone when it thinks it’s needed. This means that you cannot manually enable or disable the Photonic Engine on your phone. But if you are taking a photo in an environment that is not well lit and is not dark enough for night mode, the optical engine is very likely to improve your photo.
Related: Here’s how Apple is making the iPhone notch less annoying
Still getting Night Mode and Smart HDR?
Photonic actuator does not replace night mode or Smart HDR on iPhone. You can still enable these algorithmic shooting features manually, or let the iPhone turn them on automatically when it detects a low-light or bright-light environment. Your iPhone will automatically judge the brightness of the environment and then use Photonic Engine, Night Mode, or Smart HDR.
Improved low-light photography
Taking great photos in low light conditions is challenging, especially for smartphone cameras. So it’s good to see Apple constantly innovating to improve photos taken from iPhones, especially in less than ideal lighting conditions.
The photonic engine is just one of many exciting features that debuted with the iPhone 14 lineup; Check out our guide on what’s new in the iPhone 14 series for more. You’ll also find our Best iPhones Report useful if you’re planning to upgrade.
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