Apple's Portrait Mode with the iPhone 7 Plus
I was fortunate enough to receive my iPhone 7 Plus on launch date, mainly because I chose one of the least popular colors, Gold. A couple weeks after, Apple released iOS 10.1 beta to public beta testers. The beta included Apple's Portrait mode which uses the dual camera system found on the iPhone 7+. The iPhone 7 Plus features both a f/1.8, 28mm wide-angle lens and a 56mm telephoto lens that both work together to simulate a bokeh effect. To those who aren't familiar with photography terms, its objective aims to keep a subject in sharp focus while leaving everything in the background blurred. I took my phone and used the Portrait mode beta in several different locations and lighting situations. If you have a desktop, I recommend revisiting this page if you are currently viewing on a mobile device. Lets check out some photos I captured!
I took this photo at the Bucs vs. Broncos game on a cloudy day and then used Lightroom Mobile to do some light editing such as sharpening. I wanted to show this photo first because its one of the best shots I've taken with a cell phone. I edited the photo to show some max potential. The masking of the subject isn't perfect and can be spotted by the trained eye. The average consumer likely wouldn't notice the messy masking. Often I find myself studying these photos as if they came from my D800 and I find many flaws, but I think thats a good thing.
I took this photo indoors near a window. The iPhone 7+ struggles with maintaining highlights, so I set the exposure slightly under. Its a really good photo with a nice effect. I noticed one error on the blue jar's top. Its not perfect, but its not that big of a deal as most wouldn't notice it. Again, I have to keep telling myself, this is a photo from a cell phone. Apple did mention that Portrait mode required a good bit of light. So how does it do with minimal lighting?
Low light results? Absolutely terrible. This one here is a complete no go. I couldn't edit this shot to make it look good. My wife and I went downtown one night and I found a store that gave off the most amount of light. The noise levels are high, the masking is bad. Im not sure if this will get better once out of beta, but I sure hope so. The camera didn't have a hard time focusing, and I honestly didn't notice that the photo was this bad from my phone screen. In fact, I thought that they looked fairly decent. Boy was a wrong. Not to be confused, using one of the single cameras yield much better results, especially when shooting raw with the iPhone. I wouldn't doubt that night shots are still achievable with extra lighting equipment. Soon I will bring a constant light with me and attempt to do night shots in portrait mode again. Lets move on.
Now with this particular shot, a 22 inch ring light was used. I absolutely love the way this shot turned out. It looks outstanding on a mobile device and on social media. The only editing done on this photo was with some skin smoothening app that my wife used. So lets show one more photo using outside ambient light with absolutely no editing.
Untouched straight out of the iPhone 7 plus. Like the very first photo, this photo is good. I actually intend to load this photo into Adobe Photoshop and edit it just as if it was taken with my DSLR.
I can't stress enough that this is still beta software, so it can only get better from here on out. If the light is available, its pretty obvious that you can get outstanding results from a cell phone. Apple isn't the first to create this feature, but they have done a great job. I have seen other brand phones with dual cameras put out similar photos. From some of those phones the photos look absolutely terrible even with plenty of light. Portrait mode is far from perfect and when it becomes available to the mass public, there will be some pretty bad photos flooding social media everywhere. Some skill set is required and it took me several tries to get a good image, except for the Bucs fan photo. That one was captured with one try. That being said, I look forward to the future development of Portrait Mode from Apple.