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How to get bokeh and depth of field tricks without an iPhone 7

Derek Walter | Sept. 16, 2016
Jealous of all those cool tricks that are coming to the iPhone 7? With some software trickery you can make the images shine on your current iPhone.

When Apple executives were naming off all the great, life-changing things that the new iPhone 7 Plus camera could do they threw out a term that may have had your fingers racing towards a Google search: bokeh.

If you’re unfamiliar this (as was I), bokeh is an increasingly popular photography trick that softens and blurs the background and focuses sharply on the subject. The effect is sometimes accompanied by a dancing array of colors and bubbles that may appear as if the image was dropped in a lava lamp.

Along with bokeh, Apple’s presenters also promised superior depth of field shots, which allow for some dramatic images with profiles or outdoor scenes. As our hands-on found, the iPhone 7 Plus camera in particular should be pretty great, thanks in part to the dual lenses on the back.

Apple says the bokeh trick is coming later this year with a software update for iPhone 7 Plus owners, so it’ll be a while before we’re able to try it out. But what if you want it now? And what if you don’t have an iPhone 7 or 7 Plus?

No worries! Just head to the App Store, where you’ll find camera and photo editing apps that can bring bokeh, depth-of-field tricks, and other advanced features to the iPhone that’s in your hand right now.

Get a new camera

An excellent first step is to tap into the great variety of alternative camera apps out there as they offer additional things to tweak when you go to take a photo. Start with Camera+, which offers several controls for more directly focusing in on various pieces of the viewfinder. It also has a robust set of editing features, including some depth of field capabilities and ways to get the bokeh effect.

annie depth of field

Camera+ will add in a depth of field effect to a picture you take with the camera app or another that resides in your gallery.

I’ve also become rather fond of Microsoft Pix, which we recently reviewed. It does a marvelous job at recognizing faces in an image and sharpening the focus so they really stand out. It’s an easy way to get a depth of field approach by making the camera do all the work.

Granted, the final result is likely to be superior when the 7 and 7 Plus launch. But I’m pretty happy with this result, which wasn’t touched by an additional editing.

annie microsoft pix

Microsoft Pix is great for focusing in on the details in the foreground. Especially a super cute toddler.

Pix also is selective about when to capture Live Photos based on if motion is detected in the scene, which may have the added benefit of saving you some space on your iPhone. There are plenty of third-party cameras in the App Store that may be more to your liking than Apple’s option, so use your newfound discovery of camera quality to spur you to explore. 

 

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