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Comparing iPhone 15 Pro Max 5X Portrait: How Does it Fare Against 3X or 2X for Capturing People Photos?

The new iPhone 15 Pro Max comes with a 5X zoom lens, utilizing four prisms to reach the sensor. Unlike other manufacturers, Apple uses this unique approach for its zoom lens, which saves space inside the phone. So, how does the 5X zoom lens perform in portrait mode compared to the 3X lens on the iPhone 15 Pro or the 2X lens on the regular iPhone 15? Let’s find out.

Overview of Different Zoom Lens Options:

  • 2X — 48mm on iPhone 15 Pro series, 52mm on iPhone 15/15 Plus, uses sensor crop from the main 1X camera
  • 3X — 72mm on iPhone 15 Pro, a dedicated lens
  • 5X — 120mm on iPhone 15 Pro Max, a dedicated lens which is said to be multiple times more expensive than the 3X camera

Scene 1 – Say “cheese”!

In this first shot, we used the 5X camera on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. The longer focal distance creates a compressed background, making the model the main focus. However, in tighter spaces, stepping back to capture the shot might not always be possible.

At the same distance, using the 3X camera on the iPhone 15 Pro gives a “cowboy shot” with the subject captured from the knees up. On the other hand, the 2X camera provides a full-body shot with more context, making it an environmental portrait.

Each shot uses the default f/4.5 preset, resulting in creamy bokeh on the 5X lens. However, it can be adjusted in the Photos app to achieve better separation for the 3X and 2X shots.

Scene 2 – Strike a pose

Here is another shot comparing the results at 2X, 3X, and 5X. While the 5X shot looks nice, using the 3X or 2X lenses and moving closer can create a more compressed background.

Scene 3 – Fall colors

In this next shot, the 5X lens produces a creamy background similar to professional camera results. However, by adjusting the aperture, the 2X or 3X shots can achieve a similar look.

Scene 4 – All about the bokeh

If you want to separate your subject from the background, the 3X and 5X zoom lenses do a great job. Alternatively, you can zoom in with your feet using the 2X camera for a close-up perspective. However, this is not possible with the 3X and 5X zoom lenses.

Conclusion

Is there a “best lens” for portrait shots?

The 5X zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max captures face portrait shots with a blurry background that resembles a professional camera. However, the long zoom range limits you to a “face shot” look. For people photography, the 3X zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro remains versatile. The 2X zoom lens on the iPhone 15 is also great for tighter spaces and captures more of the environment. Each lens has its strengths and it ultimately depends on your preference and the type of portraits you take.

The 1X zoom lens was not discussed in this article, as it is more suitable for group shots rather than individual portraits. Which focal length do you prefer for portrait photos?

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