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Apple introduced the latest generation in the iPhone line this morning at an event in San Francisco, California. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus feature water and dust-resistant enclosures, new Retina HD displays, stereo speakers, re-engineered home buttons, Lightning-equipped EarPods, and a dramatically upgraded A10 chip. The phones feature some impressive hardware, for sure – however, perhaps the most dramatic upgrade in both the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus lies in their cameras. In the longest section of the iPhone 7 demo, Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller detailed all of the incredible new improvements to the devices’ cameras.
Improvements to the iPhone 7’s new camera include – optical image stabilization, a wider f/1.8 aperture lens that allows in 50% more light (for increased low light performance), a new 12-megapixel high speed sensor that, according to Apple, shoots 60% faster and 30% more efficiently than its predecessor, and a quad-LED True Tone flash that produces 50% more light, and includes a “flicker sensor” that works better in environments with artificial light. With the iPhone 7, even Live Photos feature image stabilization, and iOS 10 allows users to edit Live Photos. Schiller’s demo included quotes from several photographers that have had a chance to use the new camera on the iPhone 7, and Christopher Anderson of Magnum Photos had this to say: “[The] iPhone is going to be a part of any professional’s repertoire of tools. The camera didn’t just handle low light, it rendered the separation of colors in a way that reminds me of film. Just beautiful.”
The camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is a different beast entirely. Featuring two separate 12MP cameras – one with a wide-angle lens and one with a telephoto lens – the iPhone 7 Plus allows true optical zoom in a smartphone camera. To take advantage of the new hardware, iPhone 7 Plus users will notice a new button right above the shutter in the camera app – tap once for 2x optical zoom, touch and drag for software zooming up to 10x. The dual-lens camera is also capable of producing photos with a “shallow depth of field”, the photos you’ve probably seen with incredible clarity of the foreground subject, and a beautifully-blurred background, often called a “bokeh” effect.
The ability to shoot such photos is typically only found on high-end cameras, but will be available soon on the iPhone 7 Plus with a new “portrait” mode in the camera. When shooting in portrait mode, the iPhone’s software creates a “depth map” of the image from both cameras, focusing on the subject in the forefront with a blur effect on the background. What’s even more impressive is that users can see a live preview of the depth effect on the display of the smartphone, a feature not even found on high-end DSLR cameras. The “portrait” mode will be made available to iPhone 7 Plus users later this year via a free software upgrade.
Photographer Jason Nocito said that he “loved the depth of field capabilities and the ability to shoot fast without losing sharpness.” According to Nocito, the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus proves that “you don’t need a five-figure rig to be a great photographer,” adding that “this camera is gonna change the game.” Schiller added that the camera on the iPhone 7 Plus is the best camera ever on a smartphone, and for many users, will likely be the best camera they’ve ever owned. The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus feature a number of upgrades over the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, but the cameras may be the most impressive.