The iPhone 14 Pro might be ‘Pro’ by name, but it still lacks a built-in camera mode for professional creators. However, a new mode in Apple’s version of Final Cut Pro for iPad gives us a strong hint that this could finally change on the iPhone 15 Pro.
Buried in that new subscription-only version of Final Cut Pro is a new Pro Camera Mode, which Apple says “brings even greater control to the creation process on iPad”.
Given that this mode’s features include manual camera controls, it’s an odd feature to reveal on the iPad first – which leads us to suspect that a similar setup could finally be baked into the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Ultra’s default Camera app as an optional mode.
In the iPad’s Pro Camera Mode in Final Cut Pro, you can manually control focus, exposure and white balance, while also monitoring audio and the available recording time you have left when shooting video. This is all a big step up from Apple’s current default Camera app, which offers very limited manual exposure controls.
Right now, this huge hole is filled by the best camera apps, like Halide Mk II, which offer granular camera controls like custom white balance, alongside useful tools like Histograms, Color Zebras and Waveforms to guide you towards good focus and exposure.
But now Apple has brought its own pro camera controls to the iPad (albeit with a Final Cut Pro subscription), it seems likely that the next flagship iPhones will also finally get some of the same features, perhaps as part of iOS 17.
Apple’s new version of Final Cut Pro for iPad also has some tantalizing hints of other possible iPhone 15 Pro features. On iPads that have an M2 chip, like the iPad Pro 12.9 (2022), the app is also capable of Multicam Video Editing, which automatically synchronizes clips taken from different cameras and lets you switch angles with a tap of the screen.
It’s possible that future iPhones could, like Filmic Pro’s ‘DoubleTake’ mode, let you choose from different shots that have all been taken on a single iPhone in the editing process. These shots could either come from different lenses or, like the Sony ZV-E1’s Auto Framing mode, from a crop taken from the main camera that intelligently tracks a subject as they move around the frame.
Apple made no mention of bringing these features to the iPhone in its Final Cut Pro announcement, but with WWDC 2023 just around the corner on June 5, it’s possible that we’ll hear more about them as part of iOS 17 – or if not, during the iPhone 15 Pro’s expected launch in September.
Analysis: a glimpse of some genuinely Pro cameras
A lack of professional camera controls on Apple’s supposedly ‘Pro’ iPhone models has long been a strange omission from their feature set, despite the existence of some excellent third-party apps.
But this new Pro Camera Mode in the iPad’s version of Final Cut Pro suggests that Apple finally has the will, and processing power, to bring some genuinely professional shooting and editing tricks to its flagship phones.
Many of the best Android phones already offer these kinds of manual controls by default, but by combining the power of Apple silicon with some of the software tricks seen in apps like Final Cut Pro, Apple could push its iPhone Pro models further –particularly for video shooting.
It’s possible that some of these features could be reserved for the iPhone 15 Ultra, which has been tipped to be this year’s answer to the iPhone 14 Pro Max, and may have exclusive features like a periscope zoom camera.
But at the very least, a Pro Camera Mode that includes features like manual white balance and some useful visualization tools like Waveforms should be possible on all of this year’s Pro models. A jump to 8K resolution, which we had expected to see on the iPhone 14 Pro, could also give them the resolution needed for some smart video tricks like Multi Cam shooting.