Gadgets Photos

The iPhone 7 Plus Camera’s Portrait Effect is Magical

Written by Mark McElroy

Online experts love to debate the finer points of the iPhone 7 Plus’ dual cameras. You can’t capture their power, though, with tech specs or pixel-by-pixel analysis of photos. And the arguments you’ll see most (“Is the depth effect a real advancement or a fake effect?” or “Can the iPhone 7 Plus camera really replace your DSLR?”) are, at best, misguided, and, at worst, merely click-bait.

You can read all the blogs and newspapers you like, but you really can’t make up your own mind about whether or not the iPhone 7 Plus camera is for you without shooting photos with it in the real world.

At home:

Windy Day, at Home

At the park:

Sunny Day, at the Park

At the carnival, with people you love:


Clyde, at the Carnival, at Sunset

Joe and Julia, in Line at the Carnival

When the iPhone applies the depth effect to portraits, it saves both the original (unretouched) photo and a photo with the depth effect applied. I personally find the enhanced photos so engaging — I think they’re some of the best iPhone photos I’ve ever shot — that I rarely keep the originals at all.

In order to get the most from the cameras, you do have to learn a new set of reflexes for iPhone photography. In portrait mode, you’ll want good light. You’ll want some space, because, conditioned by years of earlier iPhone photography, you’ll stand too close to your subjects. (Portrait mode engages the optical 2x zoom lens, so subjects fill more of the viewfinder than they normally do.) Portrait-mode shots of subjects in motion (on fast-moving carnival rides, for example) will be too blurry to use.

Even without portrait mode, the iPhone 7 Plus’ cameras are just magical. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to use my 7 Plus side by side with an iPhone 6s. In very difficult situations (with the subject sitting in front of a bright window, for example) the 6s struggled, but the 7 Plus, without any guidance, found and served up just the right balance of contrast, brightness, and color, weaving together a single, well-balanced photo that we could preview on-screen, in real time. The difference is astounding.

Dont’ forget: the point of all this isn’t whether a pocket camera in a smart phone can rival those from cameras costing thousands of dollars. (It can’t.) The point is whether or not the iPhone camera produces photos that you love. (It can.)

Nothing else matters.

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