iPhone 11 Pro Diary: I’ll be buying one, for exactly the reason I expected


I wrote back in July about ‘the feature that will likely have me buy the iPhone 11,’ namely a wide-angle lens.

A wide-angle lens was the one missing camera feature for me. The photo above, and the gallery below, are all shots taken with a wide-angle lens (in this case a Sigma 10-20mm on a Nikon D3). None of those shots would have been possible on any current iPhone. Adding a wide-angle lens would make the iPhone a much more versatile camera.

And that’s what we saw yesterday…

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The focal lengths are reported as 13mm, 26mm, and 52mm. Assuming nothing has changed in the setup, we need to multiply those numbers by 1.5 to get the 35mm camera equivalents, which gives us:

  • 13mm = 20mm equivalent
  • 26mm = 39mm equivalent
  • 52mm = 78mm equivalent

Apple says the ultrawide lens has a 120-degree field of view, which fits neatly with these calculations.

A 20mm lens is wide. The widest DSLR lens I’ve ever used was 10-20mm, and although I did very occasionally shoot at 10mm, it was far more common for me to shoot at 20mm. And the lens which lived on my Nikon most of the time was a Nikkor 24-70/2.8 – a range the new iPhone now slightly beats.

I’m not, of course, comparing the quality of an iPhone camera with what is arguably the finest zoom lens Nikon has ever made. But I stopped routinely traveling with a DSLR several years ago. These days, it’s my Sony a6300 with its 16-50mm lens which comes with me. A 20mm lens gets close enough given the portability advantage of not having to carry anything other than my phone.

The second reason I still travel with a dedicated camera, however, is low-light performance. I’ve been impressed with NeuralCam, and Apple’s Night Mode should, given Apple-integrated hardware and software, be even better. So I think there’s now a high chance that the iPhone 11 Pro could be the only camera I ever need to take with me on a trip.

As for the rest of it, there was nothing else that sold it to me – indeed, I mentioned earlier that there are only two reasons for me not to buy the cheaper base-model iPhone 11: the bezel size, and the telephoto camera.

To be honest, the ultra-wide lens alone is enough. Even if that works as my travel camera in the day, and I still have to take out the Sony at night, that still justifies the upgrade to me. There’s a huge benefit to me in being able to wander around a city with nothing to carry, just my iPhone in my pocket. But if Night Mode is good enough for blue hour shots too, I will be a very happy man.

I’ll be placing my order on Friday (5.8-inch, Space Gray, 256GB). As for the camera results, night and day, watch this space…

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