technology

iPhone 7 Portrait Mode & Your Family Photos

To blur the background or not to blur the background? That is the question.

You're an avid amateur photographer of your family. You're the one in the group that says "let's turn this way -- the lighting is better!" And one day, a few years ago, you woke up to a nice DSLR camera under the tree from your spouse (a Nikon, Canon or the like).

With the iPhone 7 portrait feature, the amateur photographer's need for a DSLR camera drops even more.

Previously, entry level DSLRs were the gateway to the "blurry background" or depth of field effect that we all love for our portrait photos. These cameras achieve the effect by opening up the aperture to allow a shallower depth of field. This style emphasizes your subject by minimizing background distraction.

The iPhone 7 achieves a similar effect by compositing intake from two lenses on the back of the phone. The portrait feature will leave you giddy!

Portraits shot on the iPhone 7:

For the average eye (someone viewing your photos on mobile or a 4x6 printout), the quality is fantastic. You'll notice, after a closer look, that the iPhone struggles more in low light than a DSLR might. The result can be slightly grainier. In addition, you don't have control over the amount of background blur as you would on a DSLR. Here is a DSLR comparison (shot with a less open aperture in comparison to above):

Portraits Shot on a Canon 70D DSLR:

A few final things to note: the iPhone 7 Portrait Mode only works in photo mode, so your portrait family home videos will still need a DSLR for now (the Canon Rebel is our entry level DSLR of choice).

Also, other smartphone companies are rushing to catch up. As of February of 2017, it sounds like Google Pixel's portrait feature is lagging behind, while the Huawei P10's feature may work better in lower lighting. 

Happy photographing!

Chris