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Photo shootout: We tested Portrait mode with an iPhone 7 Plus fashion shoot

Susie Ochs, Adam Patrick Murray | Oct. 12, 2016
Just for fun, we pushed Portrait mode to the limit and compared the results to a DSLR. The results made our photographer jealous.

phototest bridge
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

Sometimes, we found we liked the sharp image better than the depth effect version. This shot in front of the Bay Bridge is one of those times, but maybe we just don’t have the heart to blur out such a notable landmark.

phototest bridge edited
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

Adam did some edits on the Portrait version of the bridge photo, to attempt to bring some sharpness back to Alina’s sweater and the stitching on her jeans.

phototest bridge vs dslr
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

For a few images, Adam put an edited Portrait photo taken with the iPhone 7 Plus next to a photo taken with his Sony a7R II. Then we showed them to a bunch of people around the office and had them guess which was taken with the “real” camera and which was taken with the smartphone. Not everyone got it right!

phototest closeup
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

This closeup in the alley is another one of our favorites, but since the background isn’t so far from the subject, the blurring effect is somewhat subtle. You can still notice the effect having trouble with the edges of her hair, and adding a little too much blur to the texture of her shirt, especially the collar.

phototest closeup edited
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

But when Adam edited the Portrait mode version in Photoshop, he was able to get some of that texture back.

phototest closeup vs dslr
Credit: Adam Patrick Murray

This pairing, showing the edited Portrait mode photo on the left, and a similar shot taken with the Sony a7R on the right, impressed everyone we showed it to. In fact, even a fellow camera geek on our video team was fooled, identifying the iPhone 7 Plus shot as being taken by a DSLR. If you know to look at the fine flyaways around her head, you might get it right. But otherwise, these are delightfully close.

In the end, Adam admitted he’s more than a little jealous of the capabilities of the iPhone 7 Plus—even with the Portrait mode officially in beta. It’s not perfect, and we are eager to see how Apple might improve it in future versions. But just the fact that you can do this with a smartphone is incredibly cool.


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