It's fascinating to see how the iPhone has quickly become the go-to camera for millions of people around the world. We've always been a bit dubious about being able to use it for client work, but for the first time ever it seems that the iPhone 7 Plus could potentially become another option in our arsenal of tools.
And sometimes, isn't the camera you always have in your pocket the best one to capture stories?
We'll be updating this post with more iPhone photos over the next week. Keep checking for more.
This is not an official review – more of a collection of thoughts from using the iPhone 7 Plus camera now that the Portrait mode has been ignited to the public through the latest iOS update. Granted, the Portrait mode is still in Beta, so things are bound to improve, but I'm highly impressed by the quality of the results already.
So our first initial thoughts:
- You need a lot more light. Not only the Portrait mode will always use the telephoto lens of the iPhone 7 Plus, this lens is also f2.8 which allows way less light to come in.
- I think the algorithm right now is tailored to having people look straight into the camera. It possibly does some kind of facial recognition when someone is looking at the camera.
- That said, it also can create some interesting results when taking photos of objects, or people sideways. But it's more random. Sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes it works "good enough", even though if you pixel peep you'll clearly notice some edge artifacts between the background and the foreground subject.
- When it works, it looks pretty stunning. The bokeh is not as good as using a professional lens by any means, but that's to be expected. To be honest, the vast majority of the population wouldn't be able to notice the difference unless seeing the two images side by side. That's the nature of the current state of photography.
We could definitely see ourselves using the iPhone 7 Plus, portrait or not, more and more in future shoots. When most of the images we create are for online delivery, the resolution of the iPhone is already large enough for this purpose. Of course, for print or larger-format distribution, we'd need to use our standard professional equipment, but I don't think mixing some of the iPhone photos with professional equipment would create a problem for clients.
For travel photography for example, the iPhone could be particularly useful. Nature, landscapes, could all be captured pretty stunningly with this new camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. And it's great to have the new Portrait mode, for more specific usage scenarios, which as long as we are conscious about how we utilize it we can still get pretty amazing results.
Like we always say, it's the story that matters – the image, the moment, the capture. The tool is the least important thing, as long as we convey the meaning and emotion of the moment, and we make our clients happy. And that's the beauty of having the iPhone always in a pocket, with the professional gear nearby.