Bokeh! Hands on with Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus’ crazy new Portrait mode

“One of the most talked about features of the iPhone 7 at launch was the new Portrait mode,” Matthew Panzarino reports for TechCrunch. “It’s a software feature that uses the two lenses of the iPhone 7 Plus to create the look and feel of an image shot with portrait settings on a camera with a telephoto lens.”

“Simply put: a pleasing blur that separates the foreground (person) from the background (other junk),” Panzarino reports. “I’m going to get a bit wonky in this piece because I feel the context will be sorely lacking once this feature hits widely — and there are some that are interested.”

“The depth mapping that this feature uses is a byproduct of there being two cameras on the device. It uses technology from LiNx, a company Apple acquired, to create data the image processor can use to craft a 3D terrain map of its surroundings,” Panzarino reports. “This does not include the full capabilities of the Primesense chip Apple purchased back in 2013 (we have yet to see this stuff fully implemented), but it’s coming.”

The top rear of Apple's new iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black
The top rear of Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black shows the dual-caeram and Quad-LED True Tone flash

“For now, we’re getting a whole host of other benefits from the two cameras, including ‘Fusion,’ Apple’s method of taking image data from both the wide angle and telephoto lenses and mixing them together to get the best possible image,” Panzarino reports. “We’re also getting Portrait mode, which launches today in developer beta and later this week in public beta.”

Tons more, with many photo examples, in the full article – highly recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: Bokeh! By the way, Panzarino demonstrates that although the feature is called “Portrait,” it does work with objects, pets, and other scenes. Even in beta, it’s very impressive!


  1. Great, great article. Other reporters and analysts out there should use this as an example of how to properly and completely report features on Apple products.
    Wonderful photo examples with and without the effect. The iPhone must save both because they look identical. If so, you can then pick the traditional shot of the portrait shot. Too cool.

  2. Good grief, those photos are just awful. The main subject is horribly soft and the bokeh is just sad. What good photos with good bokeh, then buy a decent camera and decent lens. The bokeh on these photos can’t even come close to the bokeh of my 50mm $100 lens. Get over it people these are not real cameras.

    1. Go home samsung, you’re drunk. You always overestimate your abilities. Btw what was the retail on the body of the camera, that goes with that lens? And can it fit in your pocket? Or play your requiem on your final day?

    2. I agree with you Photog, these pictures are not very good.

      At the end of the day, a real optical camera with a fast lens will do a much better job. But I think for the average Joe, it’s good enough for their needs because they don’t know a F stop to a shutter speed.

    3. Did that really, really need to be said? Do you really, really believe that people on this forum now think that an iPhone camera, with a 5mm sensor, can now take photos that look just as do the images shot with a $3,000 Canon 5DmkIII with a $500 100mm prime lens???

      What these pictures show is that an average person who has a cellphone can now take pictures that have blurred background, which is something that wasn’t possible before. What’s more is that the image processing software in that phone is now doing some rather intelligent processing (looking into depth clues in that image) in order to deliver the simulation of narrow depth-of-field large-sensor DSLR.

      At the end of the day, it is perfectly clear to anyone here that this is still a simulation, and not an organic blur of a long lens with wide aperture, but nonetheless, the feature brings significant improvement over what was there before.

      The “real cameras” will continue to have their use, but that use is shrinking upwards.

      For practically everyone other than people who make their living taking photos and selling them, iPhone provides a remarkably capable camera that is every bit as real as any sub- $1,000 “real” digital camera.

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