Apple has launched a new camera mode in beta for the iPhone 7 Plus, with the release of iOS 10.1.
Called Portrait, it takes advantage of the two cameras on the back of the camera to give you a DSLR-like effect to your pictures. We've been using the feature on our iPhone 7 Plus to find out the best way to use it.
To update your device to iOS 10.1, plug your device into power and connect to the internet with Wi-Fi. Then, tap Settings > General > Software Update. From there, tap Download and Install. That's it.
How do I use Portrait Mode?
The Portrait mode is found in the camera app. It's accessed by swiping between the different shooting mode, as you've previously done before with modes like Panorama, Photo, or Square. It is only available on the iPhone 7 Plus, so if you own an iPhone 7, sorry it isn't available to you. To use it simply scroll to Portrait in the camera app and start taking photos.
You might have to follow some on-screen instructions to take the perfect picture.
Go to Apple's Camera app, then slide over to the Portrait mode, and the mode should prompt you to move back. At the end, you get a Depth Effect picture, plus one without the effect so you can see the difference.
What is Portrait Mode and how does it work?
The technology behind Portrait is called Depth Effect. Depth Effect is designed to deliver a more DSLR-like photo with a shallower depth of field (read: softer, out-of-focus background) by creating a depth map comparison of what the two differing lenses see in front of them.
In addition to the usual wide-angle lens, a telephoto lens is located on the rear of iPhone 7 Plus. Apple has devised a way to use both lenses at the same time to mimic depth of field when taking portrait shots.
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera: Dual camera tech explained
- What is bokeh? Here's the photography effect explained
When you capture in Portrait mode, the camera snaps two photos: one regular and one with blur applied to the background. Apple's built-in image signal processor scans the scene, then applies machine-learning techniques to recognise people in the image, and ultimately creates a depth map using the device's two cameras, which results in an image where the people are in focus while the background has a bokeh-like effect.
This allows software to digitally blur the background, which it identifies as being farther away, while keeping the foreground sharp.
Or at least that's the idea.
Can I use Portrait to take all my pictures?
It's probably not advisable. The Portrait mode comes with a number of caveats: you'll need plenty of light, to be the right distance away from your subject with ample distance from the background, to have lots of contrast between the foreground and the background, for there to be not too many faces in the picture, oh and for your subjects to stay still. This is no snap-and-go offering.
Portrait Tips and Tricks
To use this new mode, launch the Camera and select “Portrait." Once in this mode, you are guided real-time with a live preview of the depth effect, including how to best distance the camera from the subject.
- We find the best portraits of someone are in brighter light.
- If shooting more than one person, we recommend up to three people. Keep them in the same plane if you want everyone to stay sharp.
- The further your subject is from your background, the more pronounced the blur effect will be. You’ll also notice better blur if you have good contrast between your subject and the background such as contrasting colours.
- Portrait likes faces, but it can be used to shoot objects just make sure they are high contrasting to get the best effect. Thin objects or scenes where there are a lot of similar colours don't look as good.
- In the beta, pictures have looked great on screen, but not so great blown up full size on a monitor. If you want to ensure you have a backup of what would be a non-Portrait version of the image, make sure you've got the Keep Normal Photo option ticked in settings (Settings > Photos & Camera). This will save a photo without the depth of field effect applied in addition to the Portrait Version.
Is that all iOS 10.1 brings?
The iOS 10.1 update includes some smaller features and bug fixes for other iOS 10 devices. It corrects a syncing bug that kept iTunes tracks from being stored on the Apple Watch, for instance. Apple also said the update also "improves Bluetooth connectivity with third-party accessories", which suggests iOS 10.1 might correct the Android Wear issue that prevented smartwatches from connecting to an iPhone.