iPhone 13 Pro vs iPhone 12 Pro – Is the Upgrade for Shooting Video Worth It?

Among the reliable changes that come to the iPhone year after year are upgrades for the camera. On top of that, the iPhone has long been the leader in video on smartphones making improvements even more notable. The iPhone 13 Pro was a smaller year in terms of changes, but among the big changes were in fact to video shooting.

We have a new Cinematic Mode with depth of field effects, ProRes(!), and stabilization all around now. Most people aren’t fortunate to upgrade every single year. Coming from an iPhone 12 Pro – an outstanding phone still – makes the decision to upgrade tough. Parker Walbeck from Full Time Filmmaker takes a look at whether the 13 Pro is worth it.

To start, Parker actually points out that the video is actually being shot on an iPhone 13 using Cinematic Mode. It’s certainly a good test.

Getting into the details, Parker wants to talk about what hasn’t changed with the iPhone 13 Pro:

  • Price points are the same (though more storage options)
  • Dimensions are the same (camera bump did grow)
  • Not noticeably heavier
  • Display is the same size and resolution
  • Water resistance is no different
  • Mic and audio quality is the same
  • Stills are 12MP and video is up to 4K

Now for the top 10 improvements.

10. 20% Smaller Notch

This is minor, but the notch has shrank a little bit. For people who are bothered by it the size reduction is moving in the right direction. It’s still totally there though so not too big of a deal.

9. A15 Bionic Chip

New year, new processor. There have once again been some noticeably improvements to performance with the new A15 Bionic. The phone is more efficient and some new features can be unlocked.

8. Battery Life

One of the improvements thanks to improved efficiency is that the 13 Pro can get over an hour and a half of extra battery life. That’s actually something you will see in your everyday use of the phone.

7. In-Body Stabilization

The standard 13 Pro has gained the sensor-shift image stabilization that was in the 12 Pro Max last year. Not being digital allows it to function in a more natural way and simply look better.

6. Larger Sensor and Lenses

When picking up the 13 Pro, one of the first things you might actually see is that the camera module is much larger. The sensor is actually 84% larger than the 12 Pro and the lenses are also larger. That’s more light and for video more light is better. Plus, faster apertures help get a slightly shallower depth of field when possible.

5. Low-Light Performance

More light means better low-light performance. Noise is actually so much better and puts the iPhone 13 Pro potentially on par with more traditional cameras. This is a huge improvement.

Image Credit: Apple

4. 3x Optical Zoom Tele Lens

The new lens choices have changed at the long end from a 2x optical zoom to a 3x. This is equivalent to a 77mm lens and is beautiful for portraits.

3. Macro Mode

The ultra-wide lens can now get much closer and the improved optics and sensor have improved image quality overall. Now when you get in super tight for macro shots the iPhone will swap to the ultra-wide to get the best quality it can.

2. 120 Hz Refresh Rate

The ProMotion tech has found its way into the iPhone 13 Pro. It makes movements and actions on the display look so much smoother. All those animations are now buttery. It’s not necessarily something you can call out immediately, but once you try going back to the 60 Hz displays you’ll feel the difference.

1. Cinematic Mode

Imagine Portrait Mode with smart rack focusing for video on your phone. That’s what Cinematic Mode is. It isn’t perfect since the depth of field is created digitally, but add on the ability to find subjects and then rack between them creates a look that attempts to compete with traditional cameras.

One neat trick is that the iPhone saves the metadata so you can actually edit the focus racks and the level of blur after the fact. Still early days for the feature, but the possibilities this opens up for smartphone video are huge.

You can also add some color filters to your video in iOS. Plus, ProRes is coming soon for the highest quality video recording. Files are huge though.

Is it worth it? Maybe, if you shoot a ton of smartphone video there are enough improvements to bump you up to the 12 Pro. But, if you are perfectly content with your 12 Pro there is no need to jump up unless you really want to check out Cinematic Mode.

Did you upgrade to the iPhone 13 Pro this year?

[source: Parker Walbeck]

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