Marques Brownlee on iPhone 12 Pro Max Camera: ‘The Differences are Mostly Imperceptible’

Photography Gear

Marques Brownlee, also known by his channel brand-name MKBHD, has released his review of the iPhone 12 Pro Max, and despite all of Apple’s hype surrounding the new, larger sensor says that he believes it’s not worth buying the Pro Max for the camera over the other iPhone 12 models.

“I want to point out that it really is a larger camera module,” he says. “And that’s to house the new hardware inside, namely the 47% larger main camera sensor that now has sensor-shift stabilization.”

Brownlee says that seeing those two specifications screamed to him that he should expect better camera performance overall, but especially in low light.

“Ideally you see better night mode performance, maybe not have to kick into night mode as often, and maybe even not having to hold the photo still for as long when taking a night photo,” he says. “But I found none of these things to actually be true.”

Brownlee has shared a gallery on Imgur for pixel-peepers to take a look all his images at side-by-side:

12 Mini vs 12 Pro Max

“I really wanted to see a difference,” he continues. “I was hoping to see some more natural depth or some more of that bigger sensor look that photographers know to look for. And I didn’t see much of that.”

The only major difference in the images Brownlee posts is that he says on the Pro Max, the color balance does seem to be tuned differently. Which of the two color balances you might prefer is subjective, and did not play into his analysis of camera quality.

“I guess the story is that Apple finally made a jump in hardware, and nothing really happened.”

Brownlee does say that the reason he would pick up the iPhone 12 Pro Max is mainly for better battery performance.

“It’s your biggest and best battery, biggest and best screen, biggest and best keyboard, biggest and best iPhone for sure,” he says.

Brownlee even put the iPhone 12 Pro Max against the Mini, the smallest camera in Apple’s new lineup. He didn’t see any of better performance in low light images that he was expecting to, and perhaps that’s more about how good Apple’s computational photography has gotten over the years than it is a hit on the Pro Max in particular.

That idea seems to mesh with what Apple told PetaPixel in an interview about the company’s approach to camera development. There, Apple said that it doesn’t like to run one piece of hardware advancement as the key to making better images because of the company’s holistic view on how they make cameras. Seeing the results of the company’s first major sensor jump here really does illustrate how true that standpoint may actually be. You can read that story here.

For more from Marques Brownlee, you can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his YouTube Channel.

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