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    These Photos Might Just Help You Decide Whether You Should Ditch Your ~Fancy~ Camera

    There is a difference

    If you're like me, you love a good photo but can't be bothered taking a gigantic camera on vacation.

    Ever since phone cameras became a thing, I stopped lugging around the pro-gear and settled for the reliable, but average, results that a tiny camera can give.

    So when the iPhone introduced the portrait feature in the 7 Plus iteration, I was intrigued to see the results.

    This is what the snaps looked like unedited when the portrait feature was first released in 2016.


    At first look...WOW! I could easily trick the undiscerning eye that I wasn't using a proper camera. The subject against an unfocused, blurry background made the photo stand out. I used and abused the portrait feature a lot.

    But then I started to notice something when I zoomed in...


    In some lighting situations, the subject looked like it was outlined with a weird perforation that, at least from personal experience, I've never seen happen when I use a DSLR.

    Apple told BuzzFeed that the portrait feature in the iPhone 7 Plus is a beta version. The camera used two lenses (one wide angle, one at 50mm) and the hardware married the two images together to create the portrait look.

    The newer phones still have two lenses but the quality has been improved, Apple said.

    I wanted to test this myself and see how the portraits fair next to a ~fancy~ camera.

    For the experiment, I got my colleague Rebecca to stand in front of four cameras - an iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus and X, and compared them to a Canon 5Ds with a 50mm lens. The photos were taken from the same angle roughly 10 seconds apart, and presented here unedited.

    Testing under good lighting (mix of artificial and natural light):


    One thing I noticed is the newer phone cameras give you a more saturated look, making the image pop (very handy for social media!)

    But when comparing the phones with the DSLR, the biggest difference I noticed is the contrast between the subject and the background.

    In the iPhone portraits, the subject is hard-edged against the background, as if it was copy and pasted. Whereas with the DSLR, the blur is smooth between background and subject.


    It's when you zoom in that you can really appreciate the difference.

    The 7 Plus camera did not pick up as much detail as the 8 Plus and X. The portrait looks like someone did a messy photoshop job. The newer phones have improved on this.

    Compared to the DSLR result though, the blur in the phone snaps doesn't blend as evenly with the subject.

    Testing under low lighting (light source coming from outside a dark room):


    The phone faired well under low-lighting conditions.

    The camera over-compensated for the lack of light, as most cameras do. So the phone photos appear with a lot more noise or colour distortion than if a high-quality lens was used.


    There's less noise in the iPhone 8 Plus and X photos. It's still not quite the quality of a DSLR lens yet but the iPhone cameras really weren't that bad.

    Paramount Pictures

    In conclusion, the recent improvements in the iPhone portrait feature have brought the quality closer to a professional camera. It's a useful tool for everyday snaps when you don't have the option or can't be bothered carrying massive equipment.

    But there's a reason DSLRs still exist in the market. You may still wanna keep your ~fancy~ gear if you're shooting for professional use, particularly if they will be blown up or zoomed in.

    BuzzFeed Daily

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