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Understanding iPhone 7's Best Feature, The Camera

Apple has made great enhancements in the iPhone camera to produce high-quality pictures.

12/09/2016 9:52 AM IST | Updated 12/09/2016 11:15 AM IST
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The iPhone camera is very good no matter what -- you hear this often, even when conversing with the staunchest Android fan. And, this has held true for most of Apple's iPhone models. In each iteration, the camera has probably been the best feature.

It should come as no surprise then, that in the newly launched iPhone 7 too, the camera has taken the centrestage. The rear camera still has a 12 MP sensor, although, this is an upgraded sensor with an f/1.8 aperture, which is a significant improvement over iPhone 6's f/2.2. Only Samsung's Galaxy S7 has a lower aperture of f/1.7.

Apple has also used a new six-stage sensor for the rear camera in this iteration of the iPhone. By employing larger pixels, the new sensor is almost 30 percent more power efficient and more than 60 percent faster than its predecessor.

Thankfully, the company has included Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) in both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 plus. Even though the iPhone camera takes great pictures already, this feature provides the added advantage of taking clear photos from a shaky hand. So, no more blurry photos of the Super Bowl, right Tim?

Tim Cook

The company's Vice President Phil Schiller said that the new iPhone is using a better image processor as well, which will handle all the software heavy lifting once a photo has been clicked.

Schiller explained that the processor will handle the multiple stages of image processing, which includes body and face detection, exposure setting, focus, white balance, cinema level wide color capturing, tone mapping, noise reduction and more.

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Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, talks about the features on the new iPhone 7 during an event to announce new products, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

"This is a supercomputer for photographs. It handles one hundred billion operations in 25 milliseconds. It gives twice the throughput from the previous iPhones," Schiller said.

Apple is now offering RAW image API as well, so the picture captured can be used without any kind of post-processing. This is an advanced mode for power users who tinker with the DNG images (RAW images). Android phones have been offering native support for saving RAW images through Marshmallow 6.0.

Snapachat has shown us that pictures taken on an iPhone front camera are much sharper and have better clarity. Although the app uses the viewfinder differently in Android and iOS, you have to give credit to the iPhone camera.

Apple has now upgraded the front camera to a 7 MP sensor which also has image stabilization. The front camera, or the Facetime camera as Apple calls it, also has wide colour capturing tech used in the rear camera.

ALSO READ: Apple's ₹15,400 Airpods And The Demise Of The Headphone Jack

Both the variants of the iPhone use a new quad-tone flash as compared to the two-tone flash in the previous version. Apple claims that the new flash not only takes brighter pictures but the flashlight can reach longer distance. It also has a flicker sensor which detects the artificial light around the shot and adjusts the flash and lighting in the photo.

But perhaps the biggest advancement in the camera feature is the dual camera lens setup in iPhone 7 Plus. The dual camera setup was first seen this year with Qiku Q Terra. A bunch of companies followed suit, including LG G5, Huawei P9 and LeEco-Coolpad Cool 1 and, last but not least, Xiaomi Redmi Pro.

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A congressman showing the new LG G5, during the first day of Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona, 22nd of February, 2016. (Photo by Joan Cros/NurPhoto) (Photo by NurPhoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

While many phone-makers have opted for sensors with varying megapixels, Apple has chosen to use two 12 MP sensors. The first sensor is a wide-angle 28 mm equivalent lens and the other is the 56 mm telephoto lens for zooming and depth. The 'mm' here indicates the focal length of the lens.

Together with the two lenses and the software, the iPhone 7 Plus will be able to take photos with 2x optical zoom. The user will be able to have a software zoom up to 10x. Additionally, Apple's new dual camera setup will be able to capture something called the Bokeh effect, which is often captured by DSLRs.

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A monkey eating biscuits as grabbed from pedestrian at the premises of Pashupatinath Temple at Kathmandu, Nepal on July 18, 2016. Pashupatinath Temple is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its rich culture, temples, and wood, metal and stone artwork. (Photo by Narayan Maharjan/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Bokeh is a photo with a sharp focus on one object created by one lens and the other lens uses the depth of field capability to blur out the background in a way that is pleasing to the eye.

Apple is going to push the software update that will carry out the Bokeh effect before the end of the year. The mode will be called 'Portrait' and the users will be able to see the live effect while taking the photo.

Asked if the Bokeh effect will be better than what you'd get with a Leica M and a 50-millimeter lens, Schiller replied, "Of course not. But have you ever seen anything like it in a smartphone before?"

As Buzzfeed News reported, this advancement in the camera was made possible because of the removal of the headphone jack from the iPhone 7.

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The dual cameras are seen on a Apple Inc., iPhone 7 Plus during an event in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016. Apple Inc. unveiled new iPhone models Wednesday, featuring a water-resistant design, upgraded camera system and faster processor, betting that after six annual iterations it can still make improvements enticing enough to lure buyers to their next upgrade. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

"It was holding us back from a number of things we wanted to put into the iPhone," Apple's senior VP of hardware,Dan Ricco told Buzzfeed News. "It was fighting for space with camera technologies and processors and battery life. And frankly, when there's a better, modern solution available, it's crazy to keep it around."

In the past couple of years, Android cameras have also stepped their game up. Last year Nexus had a brilliant camera in Nexus 6P, which was significant because the Nexus series is not known for the quality of their cameras. This year, the Android stronghold has upped the ante with a great camera in Galaxy S7 Edge, Moto Z, and LG G5.

In the coming weeks, we should be able to see how well users take to Apple's improved camera features.

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