Apple have just announced the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Of course, we’re most interested in the camera(s) specs.
iOS 10 Shoots RAW
That’s right, now you can shoot RAW photos on your iPhone, and it doesn’t even require buying a new phone. Some other phones already shoot RAW, but this is new to iOS. Adobe Lightroom Mobile is already optimized for working on RAW photos, and Apple said these new phones are perfect for it. iOS 10 should be available September 13th.
12-Megapixel Sensors and Performance
The iPhone 6s also had a 12-megapixel sensor, but combined with the new processors, this camera promises better low light performance, better white balance, richer color, better face detection, and better focus. Apple reports there are 100 billion actions performed by the camera before every picture, and it boasts faster performance. Let’s hope that means less shutter delay so we can capture smiles when they’re fresh.
The front-facing camera for selfies and facetime is now 7 megapixels and should also produce better pictures.
New Lens: f/1.8 and Stabilized
These phones both have a new lens with a brighter f/1.8 aperture, compared with the previous f/2.2. That’s two-thirds of a stop brighter. This will help make better pictures in low light even without the better processor and sensor. This lens has 6 glass elements for better color, distortion, and contrast. Additionally, the camera now has motorized stabilization so you’ll get sharper pictures at slow shutter speeds, which also improves low-light performance. Those are all significant physical improvements.
True Tone Flash
The new flash has four LED’s that make it half a stop brighter. More interesting is that the flash now senses flicker in fluorescent lighting and works to fill it in for better pictures and videos in artificial light. If you’ve ever shot a picture in a high school gym, or under cheap LED lights, you’ve seen this problem. This is a proactive approach to fixing the issue.
Battery, 256 GB, Water Resistant
The new battery lasts a couple of hours longer, which is great because making pictures and videos drains batteries quickly. The phones will come with 32GB, 128GB, and the new 256GB of memory. That’s incredible and will really make a difference–how many of us frantically delete pictures to make room for more right in the middle of a school play we’re trying to photograph? Lastly, the phones are now water resistant. The commercial showed them being used in the rain, and there was even a picture of a guy falling into a pool. They’re not waterproof for sustained submersion, but the water resistance should keep most of us from ruining our phones even in the worst weather and spills.
The biggest news is that the 7 Plus has two cameras. One has the usual 28mm equivalent lens, but right next to it is the new 56mm equivalent (they must have loved the LensBaby Velvet’s field of view). This is exciting because now we get a more flattering lens for portraits and it’s longer for far-off subjects, too.
This 56mm lens is like zooming in 2x, but it doesn’t require digital zoom (software zoom) which is actually only cropping the image. However, since it’s longer and since the processor and sensor are much improved, they’re also allowing 5x and 10x digital zoom to help you see your subjects much better without getting closer. The longer lens is truly exciting, but the digital zoom isn’t that big a deal–we’re using Lightroom Mobile, after all, so we can crop closer there without losing the option of the wider view originally captured.
The 56mm lens is longer, which we expect would help yield a shallow depth of field, especially since it’s got an f/1.8 aperture. However, because the sensor is so tiny, and since it’s an equivalent field of view of 56mm, not an actual 56mm lens, the depth of field is still very deep and you won’t see much out of focus bokeh in the background. However, Apple have developed a software fix to add bokeh-like blur behind your subject. “Portrait” will be a free upgrade for the iPhone 7 Plus, and it will use the 56mm camera with face detection and focus to isolate people from the background and add a pleasant blur, much like we can do in Photoshop. The significant difference is that the iPhone applies the background blur in real time, which they touted that even DSLR’s can’t do. This sounds pretty cool, and it’ll be fun to push it’s boundaries when it becomes available.
Did iPhone Kill the DSLR?
Phillip Schiller, Senior Vice President of Marketing, said, “We are not saying that iPhone replaces all the DSLR’s. What we are saying is that this is the best camera we’ve ever made in an iPhone. This is the best camera ever made in any smartphone. For many of the customers who have it, it will probably be the best camera they’ve ever owned, today. But more importantly, it allows them to create beautiful pictures with incredible creative tools.”
I think we’ve already seen that smartphone cameras have replaced point and shoot cameras for most consumers, and these improved cameras in the iPhone 7’s will probably further satiate many consumers’ needs for a more capable camera, like a DSLR. They are convenient and capable and make a good image. That last line about allowing people to create beautiful pictures is most important, and it’s heartening that they included that sentiment. It’s not about the camera, it’s about creating, and iPhones have certainly revolutionized the way people create.
What do you think? Will you be upgrading? Which model is most enticing? Do you still use your DSLR? Do people need big cameras when the likes of these iPhones are available?