One of the highlight feature of the iPhone 7 Plus is the presence of the dual rear camera setup. Sure, this isn’t the first time we are seeing a dual camera on a smartphone. Huawei and LG have done this before. But just like all things Apple, the implementation is different. There are two 12MP sensors, one is standard camera which has an equivalent focal length of 28mm (with an f/1.8 aperture) and the other sensor has a telephoto lens having a 56mm focal length (with an f/2.8 aperture). The standard 28mm lens comes with OIS, whereas the telephoto lens does not. This implementation lets the iPhone 7 Plus offer true 2x optical zoom. The Camera app lets you easily switch regular wide angle shot and the 2x optical zoom shot. This ensures that there is no loss in detail when taking 2x zoom photos.
While it may seem like they are two different cameras, they do tend to work together everytime you fire off the shutter. You can use these two lenses when shooting videos as well, but switching to the 2x zoom, will remove the OIS feature. The two lenses work quite well in the Portrait mode which is currently available on the iOS 10.1 beta. Also another thing to note is that the telephoto lens can only be used in well lit situations, and if the light isn’t enough, the iPhone 7 Plus will use the regular lens with 2x digital zoom. Apple’s image processor takes this decision on the fly.
The iPhone 7 Plus has a 7MP front facing FaceTime HD camera and quad LED flash unit on the rear side. Features carried forward from the iPhone 6s Plus include the live photos, phase detect autofocus. The Camera app is also similar to the one seen in the last generation.
Coming to the image quality, the iPhone 7 Plus just like its predecessors, delivers. Colours come out natural and at times it may look a bit too dull when compared with images coming out of say a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge or even the latest Google Pixel XL. Apple iPhone 7 Plus gives a neutral output, with good amount of detail, great dynamic range. Optical zoom works quite well in bright outdoors. You also get the option of using 10x digital zoom for still images and 6x digital zoom for video. Use this only in emergency situations as there is a lot of artifacts you will get in the final images. When forcing the HDR mode, we also noticed some artifacts around the edges if the subject moved too much, as is seen in the fur of the labrador in the image below, around the right paw.
Panoramas come out really good, and there is good exposure control. You can also get HDR Panorama shots with the new camera app. There were instances when shooting panoramas in bright sunlight, where I noticed mild change in the sky exposure. But the image stitching is relatively better than that seen on Android phones. The 2x optical zoom also offers Panorama mode.
Focussing is relatively quick. But time to first shot is still slow as compared to the quicker ways in which you can turn on cameras in some Android phones. Double tapping the home button to launch the camera is really a no brainer which Apple should implement.
Low light image quality is good, but in a side by side comparison with the Google Pixel XL, I noticed that the Pixel XL clearly took the lead there. I’m not saying iPhone 7 Plus is a bad camera in low light – far from it. But the noise control, detail retention, dynamic range seen on the Galaxy S7 and Pixel XL is notches above the iPhone 7 Plus.
The Portrait mode was one area which Apple spoke about a lot during the launch. During the time of testing it was only available on the beta, though it is now available to everyone. Once you turn on the Portrait mode, you will get instructions below the rounded square frame, whether you need to move closer or farther. Once you get the lock, the focussing frame becomes yellow and you fire the shutter. Images clicked in the portrait mode turned out good, it works specially well when you are in a well lit area and there is respectable distance between the subject and the background. The blurring of the background is nicely done and isn’t as aggressive as what we have seen with other dual camera phones. The good thing is that you can see the shallow depth of field while you are composing the shot. But the problem is that it will take some practise to get the shot faster. Your subject will have to really be patient till you get everything right. This may be cool when shooting friends and family, but if you are on the street and want to get that quick portrait with a defocussed background, then that can prove difficult.
On the video front, the iPhone 7 Plus can shoot up to 4K resolution videos. The OIS on the phone ensures that there is minimal camera shake, although you do see a slight jello effect when walking and shooting. The camera region does get warm when shooting videos. But not enough to cause it to shut down, as I have observed with Sony flagship smartphones.
Publish date: October 25, 2016 12:50 pm| Modified date: October 25, 2016 12:50 pm
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Apple iPhone 7 Plus review: Finesse, Performance, Dual cameras; but it’s still a tough call
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