My iPhone 13 Pro Max!

I got myself a new iPhone 13 Pro Max for Christmas and am thrilled with it!  I'm very pleased with the camera in it.  It does a great job and produces very sharp photos.  

While I was at it, I also subscribed to the iPhone Photography School taught by Emil Pakarklis which not only teaches the operation of the iPhone camera, but it also teaches a lot of techniques for improving my photography.  Great course!

I used it to take photos of some paintings that I was entering in a competition, and it reproduced the colors in the painting almost perfectly with no setting adjustments.  As a test, I also took photos with my Canon t6.  I carefully adjusted the white balance and did the best I could, and the colors were still not quite correct.  The iPhone camera did a better job.

As I see it, the biggest advantage to using a cell phone camera is that I will have it with me all the time.   

Here's a low light photo I took with it.  Handheld and straight out of the camera.


  • Yes indeed is an amazing tool. Night sky. Had held.
  • Another thing that amazes me is how sharp the photos are with this camera!

    The best part is that I'll always have a good camera with me.
  • @mstrick96
    Have you discover the photogrammetry possibilities? Amazing!

  • I wasn't aware of that capability!  I just downloaded Polycam  to try it out.  
  • There are several better. I send a screen shot.
  • I also downloaded MY360 and Canvas.   My360 requires desktop software, but will use 360 degree photos taken using Google Streets.  Canvas wants you to buy CAD models.  

    I'm interested in using this capability to make virtual tours as well as 3d models and home layouts.

    I'm a docent with the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Ga and they hire a local photographer to put virtual tours together.  I'd like to be able to make my own tours for personal use.  I think the iPhone camera is capable of taking the photos, but the processing power needed to produce a tour like the Booth's would be expensive!

    Here are some of the Booth's tours.  Virtual Temporary Exhibits | Booth Western Art Museum (
  • @mstrick96 i don't have a newer iPhone, but just curious, do you enable any specific settings before you take a photo of a painting? That's always been a struggle for me to take good photos of my paintings.
  • I don't recommend photographing your paintings with phones. If you have to use a tripod and remote trigger. Like a Apple Watch. 
  • I like the three highlighted. Metascan is insane.
  • @Csontvary, I just use the telephoto camera, which was included on my iPhone 8+.  This enabled me to back up to minimize distortion.  The 8+ telephoto lens is only 56mm focal length though so there is still some distortion.  

    The new 13 pro max has a 77mm telephoto lens which is better, but there is still a bit of pincushion distortion.  

    I found that both iphones tend to overexpose slightly, so I reduce the exposure a bit.

    I'm still working on a good procedure to get good color matching on my painting photos.  I'd like to be able to not have to do a lot of post processing.  So far, my iPhone 13 seems to do a good job with minimal post processing.  I also have a Canon t6 DSLR but have to do some post processing to get decent color matching.

    @KingstonFineArt, why do you not recommend using a phone to photograph paintings?    I know the sensor is 12MP, but my iphone 13 does a better job on the color than my Canon t6 which has an 18MP sensor.  Is your reason due to camera shake from hand-holding the camera?

    I use a tripod and either a remote shutter release or the built-in timer when I do photos of my paintings.  My Canon has image stabilization, and the iPhone 13 also has image stabilization, but I think it's best to not reply on that.
  • @mstrick96
    The reason is RAW files. The file format on the phone is good and can be manipulate into a good file. But not the same as RAW file.
  • What about Apple's ProRaw format?  I have it enabled on my new iPhone but have not used it yet.  

    Are there problems with it?

  • I haven’t tried that yet. I tried the video version pro res the file size was enormous. 
  • @mstrick96
    I tested the RAW files. Very good. Now if only I could manage aperture and iso like I can on my canons.
  • For stills I read that the files are about 25MB.  
    I'll need to play with them some.  
  • I wonder if there is another camera app that will let you control aperture and iso?  I had a couple of third-party camera apps on my 8 plus but didn't like them.  
  • Here's an article that describes some third-party camera apps.  Camera + 2 looks interesting.  I found a mode in it that let you adjust shutter speed and iso separately and it changes aperture to try to keep the exposure correct.  Another manual mode is shutter priority.  

    Discover The Best Camera App For Your iPhone Photography (

  • @mstrick96
    Here's a predawn photo raw this morning 10°f. Quite a bit softer than the Photoshop DNG that the phone puts out. I've tried Affinity and PS and several iphone apps. I like PS on the laptop the best - more options. Not as good as the raw from my canon M50 or D5. But getting there for sure.
  • But this is in my pocket!

  • I think that's where I am right now.  My iPhone is in my pocket!  My DSLR is in my camera bag in my studio!

    I'm learning to carefully compose my photos as I take them.  I'm also learning how to do enough adjustments on my exposure to get what I want.  The adjustments that are available on my iPhone are incredible!  

    iPhone photography takes a different approach from traditional DSLR photography, but it seems to be easy to learn and I can get pretty close to what I am looking for straight out of the camera.  Especially when I consider that I still can't get exactly what I envision from raw DSLR photos, although I still intend to keep learning.

    I think that I will be able to do 95% of what I want with my iPhone 13 Pro Max.  It's a pretty amazing camera that is always available!
  • I have a compact camera (not a professional level one, but it does have a 1" inch sensor and a good zoom). Having said that I'm finding phone cameras are getting good enough to use for my own ends. Especially if your painting style isn't photorealistic!
  • edited January 6
    My new phone takes pictures that are often as good to paint from as photos taken with my Olympus camera. Even using my camera, it's rare for me to be able to use a photo, as shot, as a reference to paint from. They always need work in my image editor, My phone takes pictures almost as good as my camera and once I've done some post-exposure prophylaxis in Affinity Photo (which I also have to do with photos from my camera) the phone photos are as good to paint from as those from my camera. And my phone is always in my pocket and much less bulky to carry around than my camera. And the user manual for the phone camera is simpler than the manual for my camera.  The only thing the Olympus does better is to pick up fine detail which I don't always need. I'm looking forward to the day when the phone is all I'll ever need to carry when I'm out searching for landscape ideas. We're almost there. :)
  • @tassieguy, which phone do you have?  The first thing I noticed about my new iPhone 13 pro max was how much detail I'm getting!  Especially compared to my Canon t6 with the kit lenses.  

    I might have been able to get sharper detail with my t6 if I had spent the cost of the iPhone on a better lens.  The convenience of the iPhone camera won out!
  • So here's another question.. as we aren't trying to paint photorealism do we really need all the extra detail than can be achieved with our phones? (excluding cases where we need low light or zooms, though these are also improving)

    It's painting about simplifying what we see? :)
  • Everyone has their own approach. 

    I keep hearing how much better it is to paint from life because you get more accurate colors and can see richer details.  To me, my iPhone gives me very close to that "real life" experience, so that I can decide for myself what I want to leave out and what to include. 

    The other observation I have is that Mark teaches painting realism.  I try to paint my portraits as accurately as I can and to include all the little details that define the person.  Of course, I pick and choose.  Some details are not flattering.  

    I think my point is that, as much as possible, I want to be in control of what I include and what I leave out.  I like the idea of not having the camera make that decision for me.

  • @mstrick96
    Being able to shoot raw is a bonus. There is so much more information to work with. But beware of the file size. Off load the raw files or fill up your phone

    I like your point that Mark teaches realism. He uses photo as reference. If you are gonna work from photos they better be good.
  • With my painting, the better my reference photo, the better the job I can do on the painting.  Especially portraits. 

    I am less mobile than I used to be, so I have to paint mostly from photos. 
  • @mstrick96, you asked what phone I have.

     I have a Samsung S20+5G. The colour is good but it doesn't pick up as much detail as my Olympus E-PL6 camera which can shoot raw and produces a JPG at the same time. I also have a couple of different lenses for the camera. It takes very large file size photos. However,  I paint landscapes and I find that too much detail can sometimes be be a hindrance to getting the essentials down. I would never try to reproduce all the detail in a landscape photo from my Olympus camera - it would be impossible.  What I want is accurate colour and values and the Samsung phone camera does a pretty good job. However, for very large paintings I'll use a photo from the camera so that I know I'll have all the information I'll need and more. For smaller works the phone camera is fine.

    Having said that, whether I use a photo from my camera or from my phone, I can never paint from a photo as shot. (That might be because I'm not a very skilled photographer. ) I always need to do work on a photo in Affinity Photo to get a composition I'm happy with (what to leave in, what to leave out and what to add)  and to adjust colour. Both the camera and the phone seem to have a blue bias and I always need to dial down the cyan in Affinity to get good prints. And that's why I make colour notes in the field on scraps of canvas as well as taking photos. I get the photo as close as possible to my colour notes.

    I agree with you about the convenience of the phone. It's always with me.  :)
  • @tassieguy, I paint in a very similar way. 

    I also have similar problems with color.  If I copy the color in a photo, my paintings look "flat".  Even with portraits, I have to adjust to get skin tones that look right.  There is also usually not enough depth in the values of the face in a photo.  

    My most recent portrait turned out looking good in the original, but I found it impossible to get a decent photo and print of it!   I even took it to my giclee printer and had him do a scan and color correction on it, and it neither nor the print look as good as the original!  The original is delivered now, so I can't get a photo of it with my new iPhone.  

    In my case, my Canon t6 doesn't take photos that are as sharp as my new iPhone camera, so I have the opposite problem from you.  The colors from my Canon also don't look as accurate as they do from my phone.  

    I've gone through the "IPhone Photo Academy" course on and am going through the companion course "iPhone Landscape Mastery".  Both are excellent courses!  There are also a couple of courses on digital photography and editing with Lightroom.  I think these are going to help me improve my photography significantly.

    One very important thing I already learned is to get the best composition I can when taking the photograph.  Find a scene you like with a good composition and take a photo.  Then try to figure out how to improve the composition by moving around or getting higher or lower, etc.  Take a photo of the improved composition and then try to figure out how to improve it some more!   I've always taken a shot and then tried to work on the composition in Photoshop or GIMP, usually without success.  I like the concept of getting the best shot I can in the camera without relying on post processing!  

    For one of my portraits, I took full body reference photos figuring that I had enough pixels to crop to the composition I wanted.  I now think my references would have turned out far better if I had composed my portrait in the camera.  

    So that's my new approach.  I'll get the best composition and exposure I can with the iPhone camera in order to minimize the amount of post processing I have to do. 

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