Camera comparison: cameras in iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus

Camera comparison. Comparison of the cameras of Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Apple iPhone 7 Plus. HDR, sensor, exposure, stage spot, HEIF.

Austin Mann is a former pioneer and self-taught in the fields of photography, Photoshop and Apple Mac - on his website he presents a comparison of photographs with the cameras of the 7 iPhone Plus and the 8 iPhone Plus. With the kind permission of Austin, I present you the camera comparison of the two Apple smartphones from his blog here in German. I will not translate the comparison of the cameras of the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus 1: 1, but reproduce it accordingly, as well as some photos from the original post austinmann.com Install.

Austin Mann shows the effects of the Slow Sync shutter, which leads to more light details and a more natural light composition in the picture.

Austin Mann shows the effects of the Slow Sync shutter, which leads to more light details and a more natural light composition in the picture. Taken with the rear camera, not the selfie camera!

iPhone 8 Plus: HDR, Portrait (Lighting) mode and Slow Sync

With the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus, Apple has on the September Keynote 2017 presented two new high-performance smartphones that not only feature the new A11 Bionic CPU, but also many other innovations. Among them are the new cameras - again there were two rear cameras on the Plus model of the iPhone 8. Here is the comparison of the technical data of the cameras of the iPhone 7 Plus and iPhone 8 Plus:

iPhone 7 Plus:

  • 12 megapixel camera with wide-angle and telephoto lens
  • Wide angle: ƒ / 1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto lens: ƒ / 2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom, up to 10x digital zoom
  • Portrait mode
  • Buy here

iPhone 8 Plus:

  • 12 megapixel camera with wide-angle and telephoto lens
  • Wide angle: ƒ / 1.8 aperture
  • Telephoto lens: ƒ / 2.8 aperture
  • Optical zoom, up to 10x digital zoom
  • Portrait mode
  • Portrait Lighting
  • Buy here

It doesn't look like spectacular changes at first, actually no changes at all. However, the iPhone 8 Plus has better image stabilization implemented by the hardware, a smarter sensor and new software features such as (better) HDR images, portrait light mode and slow sync. Austin Mann particularly emphasizes the latter feature in his article. You can see why in the picture above.

Slow sync details

Austin describes the slow-sync shutter of the iPhone 8 Plus camera as a "hidden gem". Almost no one commented on it, and portrait lighting and animojis were also more important at the keynote. However, the slow sync function ensures a better light in the picture: "[...] Traditional photographers are already familiar with this, but for those of you who aren't - Slow Sync keeps the shutter open a bit longer to let in more natural light when shooting with the flash. As a result, the image is not only illuminated by the light provided by the flash, but is instead balanced with the surrounding light, creating a more balanced, natural shot."

Not only does the exposure improve, but moving pictures are also more attractive - the subject is in focus while the background shows movement.

Not only does the exposure improve, but moving pictures are also more attractive - the subject is in focus while the background shows movement. (Click to enlarge)

Portrait and portrait light mode

Austin emphasizes in his post how far smartphone photography has come in just one year thanks to Apple. The post-processing options under iOS 11 with the various portrait and exposure modes make it possible to better emphasize details, literally put the person being photographed in a better light, and so on. Another great advantage: the portrait mode can also be switched off for all exposures. This means that although the person is exposed differently depending on the mode, the background is not (additionally) edited out of focus. Especially when there are delicate details such as protruding hair, it is worth switching off portrait mode - there is a clear video on the Austin page linked above!

The various portrait and portrait light modes on the iPhone 8 Plus with iOS 11.

The various portrait and portrait light modes on the iPhone 8 Plus with iOS 11. (Click to enlarge)

HDR portraits

“Perhaps the most impressive update” in terms of smartphone photography with the iPhone 8 Plus for Austin is the possibility of HDR portraits. He describes a trip through India during which he tested the cameras on the new Apple smartphone. It was noon and the sun was shining brightly - bad conditions for a good portrait. He saw a Rabari shepherd named Balaram with his sheep and got out of the wagon. He was allowed to take a portrait of him - or two of them. One with and one without High Dynamic Range mode. This is the result (pay attention to the details on the man's face and shirt):

Without HDR With HDR

3 defects that were noticed

But not only the great advantages are highlighted in Austin's contribution, but also shortcomings and negative points. Altogether there are three comments that he lists under the heading "A few problems":

  1. During the outdoor test of the iPhone cameras it happened several times that the display got darker because the brightness was automatically reduced. That made it difficult to even see what you were recording, or to look at what you were recording. Manual brightness adjustments and turning off True Tone didn't help much.
    The problem could be under Settings -> General -> Accessibility -> Display adjustments be solved by there the automatic Brightness
  2. Images were not shown too sharp, but rather "soft" on the display. Even after numerous stabilization and lighting efforts (tripod, no diffuse light, etc.), the images were not really “sharp-edged”. After transferring and viewing it on the Mac, you can be sure that it is due to the iPhone 8 Plus display.
  3. Mac compatibility with the HEIF format: For more options with the original image, it is saved locally, including all possible edits (portrait on / off, exposure modes, HDR, etc.). For this, Apple used a memory-saving raw format called HEIF. So that you can use it fully on the Mac, this should be a Upgrade to macOS 10.13 High Sierra

6 silent benefits for creative professionals

In addition to the three shortcomings that won't be a major disadvantage for everyone, there are also six advantages that Austin can list. I will not reproduce the complete text passages, but only briefly touch on the individual points and notes:

  1. Fast charging means shorter waiting times. Notes and accessories for quickly charging the iPhone 8 (Plus) and iPhone X. can be found in this post.
  2. Half-size files mean double the space. HEIF and HEVC do not take up so much space, which is reflected not only on the iPhone, but also in the iCloud, when transferring to it, as well as on the Mac, iMac or MacBook.
  3. Camera mode can be secured. If you switch between the camera app and other apps, you don't have to start again in photo mode after returning if you want to take videos. You can continue directly in the selected mode.
  4. Blur can be turned off. The blur effect can now be switched on and off in portrait mode, which ensures even more individuality in your iPhone photos.
  5. The “smarter” sensor. Austin Mann counts among his customers Apple himself, which is why he was advised directly by the manufacturer on his camera test. Apple pointed out the “smarter” sensor, which now better implements scenes such as a sunset, a concert and other lighting conditions.
  6. Camera menu under iOS 11. Under the new mobile Apple operating system iOS 11 there is now a separate camera point in the settings. An advantage for all creative people and those who want to customize the iPhone's camera quickly and easily.

Conclusion on the iPhone 8 Plus camera test

In addition to the new, improved portrait mode, there are new options for the iPhone 8 Plus and iOS 11. The two cameras, their improved hardware and, above all, the “smarter” sensor make even more professional photos possible. With this amazing upgrade, you can see Apple's clear line of optimizing mobile devices such as the Plus models of the iPhones, the iPad Pro range and the iMac Pro, especially for the creative (or professionally creative) target group .

Finally, once again the reference to Austin's contribution, in which you can find further explanations and pictures;)

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2 comments

  1. lothar Vollert says:

    I find it remarkable that the photographer of the turban picture was able to hold the iPhone so still that you can see absolutely no difference in the representation between the picture taken with HDR and the picture taken without HDR. I would even say that the pictures are congruent. Remarkable because this photographer also had to change the setting on his iPhone. Pretty nice.
    What is not great, however, is the fact that in the picture without HDR the dark areas, especially under the chin, are shown in much more detail than with HDR. Shouldn't that be the other way around.

    But if you still believe that you can replace a DSLR with an iPhone, you will also believe this article.

    • Sir Apfelot says:

      Hello Lothar! Actually, you should probably ask a question before you - apparently without knowledge of the HDR mode in the iPhone - scroll around in a post that has cost the author a lot of time and muse.

      But to be factual: The iPhone has had the option "Keep original photo" since the HDR mode was introduced. This means that you don't have to change anything and the speed at which the bracketing series is shot is so fast that you only have to hold your hand halfway steady for the HDR photo to work. And with the "Keep original" option, the "non-HDR photo" also has the same section as the HDR photo.

      Regarding the matter of the dark area on the neck: The normal photo probably exposed the darker area correctly. However, the HDR is the best compromise between the best exposure of all image elements. For this reason, the original photo may be in the front in the dark areas. Overall, the HDR photo scores, I would say.

      And yes, I don't think you can replace a DSLR with an iPhone. For the sole reason that the sensor and the optics will never get this size. Nevertheless, I find it remarkable what you can get out of the little smartphone snaps. And to be honest: I like my iPhone 10x more than a DSLR ... not because the iPhone would take the better photos, but because I have it with me. Nobody will seriously use an iPhone in the studio, but when I go hiking on a day trip on vacation, I definitely don't take a DSLR with me. As the saying goes: the best camera is always the one you have with you. : D

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