YouTuber Marques Brownlee, also known as MKBHD, shared the results of his 2022 Smartphone Awards last month. And while the iPhone 14 Pro won in the Best Camera System category, the YouTuber pointed out some flaws in photos taken with Apple’s latest smartphone. Now MKBHD is back with a video detailing why some iPhone photos are getting worse, and the answer is: post processing.
Ahead of the Smartphone Awards 2022 results, MKBHD also shared the results of its blind camera test. In this, Google’s Pixel 6A took first place, while the Pixel 7 Pro came in second. This led the YouTuber and many people to wonder what is happening with the photos taken with the iPhone.
Image post-processing is being overdone
To take a good photograph, it is important to have a good sensor capable of capturing as much light and detail as possible. However, since the camera sensors found in smartphones are very small compared to DSLRs, phone manufacturers have introduced new tricks every year to improve these images with post-processing.
Almost all modern smartphones use a combination of hardware and software to adjust images after they’ve been taken in an attempt to make them look better and make up for the lack of a large sensor. This includes things like reducing the noise level, adjusting the white balance, and increasing the brightness to show more detail in dark scenes.
But in recent years, Apple and other companies have taken this to the next level. On iPhone, Smart HDR combines multiple photos in different settings into one. This allows the phone to choose the best aspects of each for a better photo. But when there’s a lot of post-processing, these images can look unrealistic. And this is what has been happening with the iPhone camera.
As MKBHD pointed out, most phones perform well in favorable scenarios, such as a clear sky or a subject against a clear background. But when you have different colors and textures in the same scene, post processing has to be smart enough to understand what the best settings for all of these elements will be.
But the thing is, while companies like Google are doing it the right way, Apple is definitely not doing it. As the youtuber shows, the iPhone 14 Pro always tries to lighten the shadows, especially on people’s faces, making the photo look very artificial. The iPhone also exaggerates the sharpness of photos compared to other smartphones. MKBHD even complains that her skin tone looks quite different on the iPhone camera.
Apple Is Ruining The iPhone Camera With All These Clever Features
Even if the iPhone has some great camera hardware, it’s being ruined by all the smart features like Smart HDR that Apple has been introducing in recent years. Every year, the company adds even more steps to the camera’s post-processing. But instead of making photos better, they just make them less natural.
In the iPhone 14 Pro camera review by Sebastiaan de With, developer of the popular Halide camera app, he also pointed out multiple flaws in Smart HDR. For example, whenever there is a very bright background, the iPhone also tries to brighten the people in the photo, making them look very white. “Honestly, I have never seen him take a better photo. The result is just jarring,” he said.
In another example, the iPhone camera applies a lot of “weird artifacts” to selfies taken in low-light settings to try to save the image, but this ends up resulting in “absurd watercolor-like mess” instead of normal darkness. photo with a lot of noise
Personally, I have also noticed how Smart HDR is messing up some of my photos, also becoming too sharp and with exaggerated colors. On Reddit, many iPhone users seem to agree with this.
Apple should give users the option to take candid photos
For years, iPhone users have ridiculed other smartphones because their photos looked too artificial. We have now reached the point where iPhone photos look very unnatural. While I hope the company improves Smart HDR, I would prefer an option to reduce or completely disable image post-processing in the iPhone camera.
Of course, you can take a RAW photo using apps like Halide (it’s worth noting that ProRAW photos are still post-processed), but then you’ll have a much larger image file just for a more natural result.
And you? Has the overdone iPhone camera post-processing ruined your photos too? Let us know in the comments section.
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