Last week, Apple announced that iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro can save high-res photos larger than 12-megapixel. They are calling this HEIF Max. So you can now take photos in resolutions as high as 48 megapixels in certain circumstances!
What they didn’t publicly announce, though, was that iOS 17 unlocked the same feature for iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max. This was not a feature during the betas, and Apple surprised everyone when the feature was discovered in the final release of iOS 17 last week. With iOS 16, the extra megapixels of the iPhone 14 Pro camera were used solely for capturing more data for post-processing and for increasing zoom abilities, or for capturing enormous (and fussy!) RAW images.
This does increase the photo detail considerably, though it also increases the file size by about two to five times.
To enable HEIF Max
Go to the Settings app > Camera > Formats. Under Photo Capture, turn on ProRAW & Resolution Control. Just below that, change the Pro Default to HEIF Max.
Taking an HEIF Max photo
When you take a photo you will now have an HEIF Max button on top of your viewfinder. If it has a slash through it, you are taking a standard-resolution photo at 12 megapixels or less. Tap it to enable the higher-quality HEIF Max.
If you don’t use the Camera app for a few minutes, your iPhone will switch back unless you go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings and enable ProRaw & Resolution Control.
Not all images will be captured at full quality. It might be reduced or revert to standard quality if you use a zoom level of anything but 1x, if you enable Live Photos, depending on the light levels, if you are using the selfie camera, or with special capture modes such as Panorama or Portrait.
If you value photo quality and are willing to deal with somewhat larger images, go for it!
Pro Tip: Tap and hold the HEIF Max button for RAW options if you need those. If you don’t know what RAW is you should avoid it. The files are about 50x larger than normal but it allows professionals to fine-tune the image. Without manual tuning, the photos will appear washed out.
If you are an existing customer who needs help with this or if you have other questions, or if you are in San Francisco and interested in becoming a client I invite you to book an appointment with me. Otherwise, you may wish to contact Apple Support or find a local Apple consultant.
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