Can an iPhone 12 Pro Max be used for Photography by Dave Hutchison?

by | Feb 4, 2022 | Photography | 1 comment

Can an iPhone 12 Pro Max be used for Photography?  I have been photographing and exploring the wilds of nature on & off Vancouver Island for close to 15 years.  From time to time, it is very handy to have something portable you can pull literally out of your pocket and snap a quick image.  Content could be used for a social media reel or just a reference image.  But can you really use an iPhone 12 Pro Max for photography and use the image?

26mm, 1x / native camera – acceptable

Recently I purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max cell phone, but for a few reasons.  First, I was attracted to the ability for the phone to photograph RAW images (uses Apples own Raw format that show as DNGs).  Secondly, I wanted a phone physically larger so I could actually read it (my iPhone 8 was becoming too small).  Ah the wonders of aging.

26mm, 1x / native camera selected – accepted by a stock agency

The Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max uses three cameras and is 12mp.  The default choice is 1x mode or what I call the native camera the phone uses when you start to photograph.  To the left there is the wide-angle mode which shows as 0.5 on the selection just above the “Photo” button when taking an image.  To the right is the telephoto mode which shows as 2.5x on the selection just above “Photo” button too.  The telephoto camera will actually go all the way to 12x zoom.

13mm, wide angle camera selected – distortion at the edges

But which modes work the best?  I have tested all three cameras and the wide angle and telephoto are simply not usable in the sense of making an image that could be sold to say a stock photography agency.  At the wide end there is too much distortion at the edges and telephoto doesn’t retain enough detail.  However, the native 1x camera can produce acceptable images.  Remember I am saying acceptable not stunning like what can be created from a 45mp full frame camera.

64mm, telephoto camera selected – loss of detail is noticeable

26mm, 1x / native camera selected – not much distortion and acceptable

In conclusion, the 1x mode (not zoomed in or wide-angle) is usable in well lit conditions, even to the point where I have had a few images accepted to stock agencies take with my iPhone 12 Pro Max.  The images taken with the wide-angle or telephoto camera are not usable in my opinion.



  • Compact and easy to use
  • RAW or JPEG format
  • 1x native camera is acceptable
  • Easy to upload to dropbox or google drive from camera


  • The wide-angle and telephoto cameras are not usable images (at least for my photography)
  • RAW seems to only work in the 4:3 aspect ration and not the other ratios (other ratios only work in jpeg)

Dave Hutchison is an award-winning landscape & wildlife photographer based near Victoria on southern Vancouver Island.  Dave has been a PPOC member since 2013 and won Best in Class in “Fine Art” at the 2020 PPOC National Image Salon.  Dave has three PPOC accreditations – nature, pictorial/floral, & wildlife.  Dave is also an International Brand Ambassador for Singh-Ray Filters based in Florida (discount coupon code dhi15 for 15% off at checkout at ).  Dave leads multi day workshops for landscapes & wildlife photography on the BC coast & The Great Bear Rainforest  Dave also offers webinars & private Zoom sessions around the globe on Long Exposure Photography – “The Art of Seeing What You Can’t See”.  Details can be found at

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