Raymond Wong’s iPhone 13 Pro Review for Input

Raymond Wong shot a bunch of great camera comparisons for his Input review. He was annoyed by the same jarring automatic switch between the 1× to 0.5× lens when entering or leaving macro mode that I mentioned in my review:

I welcome greater detail for close-ups and it’s clever that Apple is using the ultra-wide to augment the 1× wide and 3× telephoto at short distances, but the transitioning of cameras is disorienting. Apple makes no mention of this camera switching/augmenting on its iPhone 13 Pro website. I get that it’s supposed to be one of those “it just works” features. At least that was Apple’s intention I’m told, but it just doesn’t.

Here’s a screen recording of the automatic camera switching in action. In this shot, I was trying to frame these delicious soup dumplings using the grid. Holding the iPhone 13 Pro still, you can see the 1× wide switching to another slightly different FOV that’s using the ultra-wide autofocusing. The viewfinder keeps jittering as it tries to choose between a regular wide or wide-macro shot. A regular person wouldn’t look at this and think to themselves, this is normal. They’d look at the jittering and think something is broken with their iPhone camera. The framing should never change from what you compose and never automatically.

Wong’s screen recording illustrates the issue perfectly.

When I first pressed Apple and made them aware of the jarring camera switching, I was told it’s how the camera system works. On the eve of this review, Apple changed course and said it’s going to release a software update to let users disable the camera switching. According to Apple:

A new setting will be added in a software update this fall to turn off automatic camera switching when shooting at close distances for macro photography and video.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021