How to use Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus Portrait mode to achieve best results

“The phenomenal success of Apple’s iPhone camera is due in no small part to its simple, reliable point-and-shoot design, but the extra complexity of the new iPhone 7 Plus can demand a little more thought in order to get the best results,” Paul Monckton writes for Forbes.

“In ‘Portrait Mode’, the phone combines the output of both camera modules to produce DSLR-like shots with softly blurred backgrounds and subject details that really pop,” Monckton writes. “In providing such a tool, Apple is moving beyond ‘It just works’ and giving the user flexible creative options which can produce great results, but require decisions to be made.”

“You don’t need to be a skilled photographer to use Portrait Mode, but you may need to start to think in new ways when composing your image if you’re going to get the best out of it,” Monckton writes. “Thankfully, Apple has shared some pro tips on how to get the best out of Portrait Mode, sharing insights from professional photographers on how they use the iPhone 7 Plus to get the look they want.”

Read more, and check out the excellent photographic examples, in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: The #1 key to Portrait mode is: The more light, the better!

Interns: TTK!


  1. Even the pics in this article look like the blur is “painted” in. Perhaps it’s that the blur or “bokeh” is unnaturally uniform, not sure but it just doesn’t look right. Not an expert but most of these look significantly more fake than pics from any shallow DoF from a DSLR.

    The black and white pic looks less obviously odd though. Somehow the VSCO filter makes the other fakery less jarring.

    1. I’m an iPhone 7 plus owner as well as a photography teacher. I shoot with a Nikon D810, and great portrait lenses like the Nikkor 135 DC f/2 and 85mm f1.4. No camera phone will ever been as good as a DSLR–sorry folks, they never will bet–the glass isn’t large enough, and the sensors aren’t large enough.

      If you don’t believe that, think about this: No small bluetooth speaker will ever out perform a speaker stack. No small backyard telescope will ever outperform a observatory sized telescope. It’s just physics. It goes the other way too, no 35mm DSLR will perform as well as a medium sized Hasselblad.

      BUT. With that said, the images produced by portrait mode on the iPhone 7 plus is head and shoulder better than anything I’ve even seen out of a mobile phone. In fact, it’s better in bright light than most of the point-n-shoots like the Canon Elph.

      1. Obviously it’s very deceptive, even silly, to compare a full frame DSLR with an iPhone, they serve very different functions. I can’t imagine anyone ready to claim the iPhone is as good as a full frame DSLR in terms of picture quality. On the other hand, Ars Technica recently did just a comparison and in many situations the iPhone was scarily close to the Nikon in terms of quality.

        What you should be comparing is usability. I travel extensively through Europe and North America, and I quickly learned to leave my Leica at home, that my iPhone was taking really nice shots that more than satisfied in terms of quality. Most importantly, my iPhone was in my pocket, ready to take a fleeting picture at any time. I would say that about 90% of the photos I take now I would not have taken with my DSLR, simply because I don’t have it at hand in most situations; by the time I got it out and put on the right lens the fleeting moment would have been long gone.

        No, the iPhone is an entirely different animal that a DSLR, it’s intended to be used photographically in very different ways.

    2. Not sure of the Portrait Mode process but you’re right in that the focus is an even rather than graduated depth of field softened focus with objects closest more in focus than ones further away as a longer lens would do. A multi-plane effect. For the shots I’ve done so far though it seems fine and you always have the unaffected version to play with in Photoshop if you wish. Best of all it doesn’t cost you anything.

  2. I downloaded the full res shots and they are really very good. Try zooming in the on the gold frame hinge of the glasses on the guy in the yellow top. That’s clarity! And the lack of flare in the backlit shot is true prime lens quality – what you can’t get with a compact zoom, e.g..

  3. As long as you remember this is mobile photography (i.e from a phone) then the quality is great. Depth of field effects are great in photos. Shame it is restricted to the iP+ model.
    Digital photography has come a long way. I remember getting my first digital camera in 2001. 3MP camera for $500. It wasn’t bad and certainly helped get more memorable pictures because you can see the results right away. 15 years later, the camera in your phone and at 12MP.

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