IPhones are among the most expensive hardware components in the world. Apple promises to give you the best experience in every industry possible and often meets requirements without breaking a sweat. IPhones come with an intuitive operating system, have top-notch build quality, and unlock an ecosystem that the competition can’t. Yet while they have so much going for them, iPhones are far from perfect.
Over the past couple of years, iPhones have struggled to appeal to fans, especially those who want an uncompromising point-and-shoot camera unit. Post-processing of images has been controversial to say the least, often doing more harm than good.
Today we are going to take a look at one of those iPhone quirks that make life difficult for users. Today we’re going to take a look at something called the “oil paint effect” on the iPhone 12 or 13, and tell you about it.
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What is the “oil painting effect” on the iPhone 12 and 13?
Apple has long been talking about advancements in AI and camera software. The latest iPhone 13 and its predecessor, the iPhone 12, take advantage of the best that Apple has to offer. Unfortunately, the results are far from satisfactory on both models.
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 13 each have two Pro models. The iPhone 12 lineup includes the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, while the iPhone 13 sports the iPhone 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max. The devices’ biggest selling point is the telephoto lens added to the rear, allowing you to zoom in and click on sharper images of objects from a distance.
When magnified, these Pro models produce surprisingly blurry images, which even the iPhone 11 Pro did not. The lack of detail is so noticeable that you might end up mistaking a magnified image for an oil painting.
Do older iPhones have an “oil paint effect”?
If you have an iPhone 11 Pro or older, you don’t have to worry about the “oil painting effect” when zooming in for a photo. The images you click will have a lot more noise than the last two generations of iPhones, but they will still be recognizable as a photo, not to be confused with a hand-drawn oil painting.
At present, only iPhone 12 and 13 series phones suffer from this maddening “oil painting effect”. You can compare them to older devices to see the difference.
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Why does the “oil painting effect” occur?
The “oil painting effect” was mainly reported by 12 Pro / Pro Max and 13 Pro / Pro Max users. These devices come with a dedicated telephoto lens, which in theory should allow them to capture sharper images than the standard iPhone 12 and 13 or the iPhone 12 Mini and 13 Mini. Unfortunately, instead of having the desired effect, iPhone Pro models click muddy images when zoomed in.
Since Pro models come with a dedicated telephoto lens, the camera should switch to the specialized telephoto when zooming in. However, thanks to iOS “smart advancements” in the iPhone 12 and 13, the default camera app doesn’t switch to telephoto. even when needed, stick to the wide camera instead.
As you may know, the iPhone 12 and 13 only have 12MP sensors. So, you can’t zoom in any more without compromising on quality, and that’s exactly what happens on Pro phones. The resulting image is a cropped, warped mess that falls well short of the iPhone’s very high standards.
For example, if you shoot a distant object and decide to zoom in, your iPhone should effortlessly switch from the standard wide lens to the zoom lens. However, in the case of the 12 Pro and 13 Pro, it often chooses to use digital zoom – via the main 12MP wide camera – instead. This results in a smeared image that looks a lot like a hand drawn oil painting.
Since Apple seems to be proud of its progress in the AI camera department, we are likely to get stuck with this “feature” in the future.
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How to prevent the “oil painting effect” on the iPhone 12 or 13? Fixes to try
Unfortunately, there isn’t a rocker you could flip that would guarantee flawless performance. However, there are some solutions you can try.
1. Disable Smart HDR
Before we go looking for it on your iPhone 13, we would like to tell you that it is not available on the latest and best iPhones. You must have iPhone 12 to turn off Smart HDR option.
To turn off Smart HDR on your iPhone 12, first go to Settings and tap Camera.
Scroll down to the bottom of the screen and turn off the “Smart HDR” button.
That’s it! Muddy images should give way to clearer images.
2. Update to iOS 15.1
Apple is not one of those “the customer is always right” companies, but every now and then a few suggestions are needed. He seems to have understood that the images are a bit too blurry for any sane user. In very good news, the Oil Painting effect appears to have been supported in iOS 15.1 released yesterday.
To make sure you have the latest version on your phone, first go to Settings and tap “General.”
Now go to “Software Update”.
It will check for the update and say if anything is available for your device. Tap “Download and Install” to complete the process.
After updating to iOS 15.1, click on a few images – preferably similar to the ones you already have, if you can – and check if the effect has been minimized or marginalized.
3. Disable automatic macro
If you have previously updated to iOS 15.1 on your iPhone 13 Pro, you now have the option to turn off “Auto Macro”. This will ensure that the lens is not automatically switched when closing a subject. After installing 15.1, go to Settings and open “Camera”. Finally, turn off the Auto Macro toggle.
4. Use a third-party application
If none of the three solutions works for you, you will have to ditch the standard camera app and go for a different Pro camera app. We recommend that you take a look at Halide Mark II on the App Store. At $ 29.99 or $ 9.99 / month, it’s not cheap, but it’s one of the best Pro camera apps.
Most importantly, it gives you independent control over each goal. This means that you can select the zoom lens manually without relying on Apple’s camera app.
The post-processing is also much more subtle and won’t drown out the details.