Apple presented the iPhone 14 with important improvements in the photographic section. In addition to larger sensors, Apple has introduced a new photography feature called Photonic Engine.
Here’s what it does and how it will affect your iPhone experience.
What is Photonic Engine?
Photonic Engine is a computational photography technique that modifies the iPhone’s image processing stack to improve photos taken in medium or low lighting conditions. It helps iPhone deliver better color fidelity, more detail, and higher brightness in photos.
According to Apple, you can expect up to two times better performance in medium and low light conditions in photos taken with the various iPhone cameras. However, the impact varies depending on the camera.
For example, Apple says the ultra-wide camera on the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max will see up to a 3x improvement. By contrast, images are “only” 2 times better on the ultra-wide camera of the iPhone 14 or 14 Plus.
How does Photonic Engine work?
Apple claims that Photonic Engine dramatically improves the quality of photos taken with all iPhone cameras by employing its Deep Fusion technology at an earlier stage of image processing than previous generation iPhones, and is applied to uncompressed images. .
Deep Fusion is also a computational photography technique that Apple introduced in iOS 13.2 for the iPhone 11 series. It has since appeared on all newer iPhones except the second-generation iPhone SE.
Deep Fusion uses nine photos taken at different exposure levels and combines them to produce a single, best possible photo. During processing, the technology goes pixel by pixel through all of the millions of pixels to select the best elements from each of the nine photos to use in the final photo. This helps iPhone reduce noise and improve details.
Now, by applying Deep Fusion earlier in the image capture process, Apple says it can preserve textures, deliver better color, and retain even more detail. So you get essentially everything that Deep Fusion allowed in the previous generation of iPhones and more.
Which iPhones have Photonic Engine?
Photonic Engine is only available on the iPhone 14 series, which includes iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Plus, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max.
It’s likely to be available on future iPhone models in its current or improved form, but unfortunately it’s not compatible with older iPhones. The reason for this is probably the iPhone 14 series’ camera hardware change from that of the iPhone 13 series.
How to use Photonic Engine?
Unlike Night Mode and other similar features that you can turn on or off with a switch on your iPhone, Photonic Engine runs in the background and is automatically activated by iPhone when it thinks it’s needed.
This means that you cannot manually turn Photonic Engine on or off on your phone. But if you’re capturing a photo in a dimly lit environment that isn’t dark enough for Night mode, there’s a good chance the Photonic Engine is working to improve your photo.