Jonathan Cartu Review: Follow the iPhone 12 Pro Max on a rugged Lost Coast - Jonathan Cartu - Wedding & Engagement Photography Services
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Jonathan Cartu Review: Follow the iPhone 12 Pro Max on a rugged Lost Coast

Jonathan Cartu Review: Follow the iPhone 12 Pro Max on a rugged Lost Coast

California’s Lost Coast is a world of its own at the edge of the continent. Located in Humboldt County, in the far northern part of the state, this remote stretch of pristine coastline sits atop the backpacking trip bucket list. With few towns or major roads, it’s best explored via the 25-mile Lost Coast Trail that winds along black sand beaches and rocky shores.

A few weeks ago, I took the iPhone 12 Pro on location to the high Sierra, visiting Lake Tahoe for a wondrous 24 hours to test its camera. The results were excellent, and now Apple’s adding even more camera punch with the iPhone 12 Pro Max. As it goes on sale Friday, let’s take a look at Apple’s latest photographic monster that’s definitely made for photographers. 

We went off the grid in the Lost Coast for a few days, exploring the beauty of this isolated coastal wilderness. For this trip, I left my bulky Canon 5D Mark III and array of lenses at home and brought only the iPhone 12 Pro Max. While it’s still no replacement for my usual gear, the phone was a worthy companion along this incredible stretch of wilderness.

An image taken on the iPhone 12 Pro Max with the Telephoto lens.


James Martin/CNET

Most of the time, the Lost Coast Trail isn’t really a trail at all. For miles we scramble along rocks at the water’s edge with waves crashing at our feet. Along vast stretches along the trail, it’s completely impossible to pass through at high tide. The terrain is challenging. The weather is highly unpredictable. This is the Lost Coast.

Mountains reach the sea at the black sand beaches on the remote Lost Coast.


James Martin/CNET

Jagged, steep cliffs rise straight from the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean to elevations of more than 4,000 feet just a few miles inland into the King Range National Conservation Area. 

Along the rugged Lost Coast Trail, every step is a challenge.


James Martin/CNET

During periods of low tide, there are opportunities to get down to the hard packed sand near and explore tide pools with kelp, sea anemones and fish. 

Kelp in the Pacific tide pools along the Lost Coast Trail in Mendocino County, California.


James Martin/CNET

Check out the detail the camera captured in both the sand and star-shaped echinoderm.

A starfish in the sand along the Lost Coast trail, shot on the iPhone 12 Pro Max with the wide lens.


James Martin/CNET

As we entered the first impassable tidal zone, we had a few miles of beach hiking and scrambling over rocks before we made it to the first night’s camp at Randall Creek. 

The rugged hiking conditions along the rocky shore of the Lost Coast Trail.


James Martin/CNET

There are no roads, no people and no cell phone service out here. Except for a few remote, off-the-grid cabins and the Punta Gorda lighthouse, there’s just mountains falling sharply into a sea of cold, chaotic waves. 

Once you leave the impassable high tide zone, you quickly find yourself in four miles of open meadows and grassy bluffs.

The abandoned Punta Gorda Lighthouse was built in 1910 with materials delivered via a high line cable coming down the mountains to the shore.


James Martin/CNET

Massive pieces of driftwood washed ashore by strong winds and crushing waves pepper Mattole Beach as the sun sets. The Lost Coast is a perfect place to go for dark skies and empty beaches. The feeling of quiet and seclusion will make you feel like you’re cut off from the rest of the world.  

Driftwood along Mattole Beach.


James Martin/CNET

Low light at night 

Photography is all about light. Images are made by capturing the different amounts of light reflected from the various parts of a scene. Dark objects absorb more of the available light and reflect less back into the camera, while bright objects reflect more light to the sensor. Getting great photos when there isn’t much light available is a challenge for any camera.

A hand held night time photo, taken without Night Mode, shows the…

Jonathan Cartu