In March 2021, John Nack shot a series of photos on an iPhone 7 Plus and a similar series on an iPhone 12 Pro Max — the same comparison as Kyle Chayka wrote about earlier this week. It is pretty clear to me how much better the iPhone 12’s photos are compared to those from the iPhone 7. They are more colourful, especially in the warmer red and yellow tones — sorry to that person from the New Yorker article — and much sharper.
Despite their technical excellence, I also find myself appreciating the more muted images from the iPhone 7. I wonder if some people prefer an imperfect and perhaps nostalgic image. It may be one reason film photos are seen by some as superior to digital, or why vinyl is loved by many in a way CDs never have been. Or think about the difference between movies shown at 24 frames per second compared to those shown at 60. The digital or newer versions are all technically superior, but they can sometimes feel cold or less satisfying.
I do not think Apple should aim to replicate analogue imperfections, nor do I think the company should slow progress on its cameras. It is one of the main reasons I look forward to buying a new iPhone every few years. In these examples, I prefer the photos from the 12 Pro, but I find myself drawn in by the slightly hazy quality of those from the iPhone 7.
(Via John Gruber.)