Whether it’s robots or smartphones, AI or high-end audio products, Japan has always been at the forefront of any tech conversation. We recently spent several weeks in Tokyo not only discovering what some of the biggest names in new technology are creating, but also taking advantage of the exciting location to test out the best smartphone cameras and experience the allure of its popular destinations in Tokyo. technological tourism. Be sure to check out the other entries in our “Modern Japan” series.
The dual lens camera is the main feature of the Apple iPhone 8 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, both of which create blurry background effects in your photos. Samsung calls this feature Live Focus, while Apple calls it Portrait Mode. Different names for essentially the same functionality; but you will find some differences between the two when you use them.
The cute little creatures are covered in spikes, which are perfect for confusing the camera.
While ideally suited for taking pictures of people, they are also suitable for taking pictures of other things, creating that striking appearance of an isolated object in the foreground of the image. The question is, how effective are these features, how do they compare to each other, and what are their strengths and weaknesses?
To find out, we went to Harry’s Hedgehog Café in Tokyo, Japan. That’s right, a hedgehog cafe, where you hang out with cute pygmy hedgehogs while enjoying a cup of coffee. Why choose a hedgehog cafe? The cute little creatures are covered in spikes, which are perfect for confusing the camera on what to blur and what not to blur. Posting cute photos of hedgehogs (and rabbits) is just a happy coincidence.
If you want to see more camera comparisons, check out our series of smartphone camera shots. Comment below to let us know which camera shootings you want to see next!
Hands and hedgehogs
Look at the photos of a hedgehog caught in two hands. Both were shot within moments of each other, and in exactly the same position, with exactly the same lighting conditions. While both images look great, the Galaxy Note 8 performs best here. Let’s take a look at why. Take a look at the tips of the hedgehog, which are better defined and better selected on the bottom.
On the iPhone, the tips have a halo around each, or every tuft of tips. On the Galaxy Note 8, the individual tips are much lighter, giving the hedgehog its iconic spiky look. The hands holding the hedgehog are also sharper, where on the iPhone the upper fingers have been incorporated into the blurry background. Neither case here is good or bad, but the Note 8’s image looks more realistic.
The better the cameras perform in the café, the better they will be in everyday life.
But the iPhone 8 Plus has warmer, more natural colors, and the image is more pleasing to the eyes. If you don’t zoom in, it’s a nice picture. The Note 8’s image is technically superior, and even when you manually adjust the blur intensity in the gallery, it still doesn’t turn the tips into a blurry block.
Obviously, very few of us will take pictures of hedgehogs on a regular basis. But it’s important that live focus or portrait mode selects hair, clothing, glasses, hands, fingers, or any other individual part of an image. The better the cameras are in this café, the better they will be in everyday life. We’d say the Galaxy Note 8 borders on the iPhone when it comes to scrutiny.
Rabbits and ears
As the hedgehogs fell back to sleep, we also turned our attention to the bunnies in the cafe. Like spiky hedgehogs, rabbit ears are a great test of software in portrait mode; but rabbits were considerably more active than hedgehogs, making it more difficult to take the same photo with two different cameras. The moment we picked up the second phone, the bunny changed position. Although direct comparisons were not possible, we can still see some differences between the iPhone 8 Plus and the Galaxy Note 8.
In the iPhone photo with the rabbit on two different backgrounds – a sweater close-up and a wall further away – the camera makes a good distinction between the two, but there is a strong line effect around the face . The far ear is also blurry at the tip. However, the fur is well defined and the picture turns out well. The same cutout effect can also be seen in the photo with the bunny on the lap, where an intricate background makes it quite difficult to separate the bunny from the clothes. Sharpness is also affected on the rabbit’s nose. Those things aside, we really love the images on the iPhone.
The Note 8 took a different approach to its photo of the rabbit in the lap. He chose to keep the clothes and the person mostly on point, and blur things in the background. It doesn’t isolate the rabbit in the same way; but that means the fur and ears are still pretty defined, and the final picture isn’t just about the bunny, but more about the bunny and the person they’re sitting on together. It’s a more realistic photo than the one taken by the iPhone.
Near and far
The Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus took very different portraits in Hedgehog Cafe, but there’s one key difference that’s only noticeable when using the two cameras back to back. This is the shooting distance. The iPhone 8 Plus’s Portrait mode lets you get closer to the subject, really highlighting it suspended in a blurry space. This results in striking and visually exciting images.
Samsung’s camera doesn’t work as close as the iPhone, possibly doubling the minimum subject-to-camera distance. This is immediately evident in most of the images here. We moved in with the iPhone, but had to come back with the Note 8 to trigger Live Focus to activate. It’s possible that this greater shooting distance is the reason we don’t see such heavy software blurring around the edges of the subject.
The Galaxy Note 8 took some of our favorite bokeh photos.
The Note 8 has a smaller window where Live Focus works than Portrait mode on the iPhone in general. We could go further back with the iPhone, although the different portrait mode lighting effects wouldn’t work if we were too far away, despite the camera telling us that portrait mode was active and the the background was blurry. The Note 8 prefers to take wider Live Focus photos than the iPhone. We took more Live Focus photos of larger objects in a larger space with the Note 8, than with Portrait mode on the iPhone. However, for small, close-up items like food and hedgehogs, we went with the iPhone.
Which is the best ?
The Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are both great camera phones, and you’ll be happy with photos taken on either. Back in the days when we were using both, the Galaxy Note 8 was taking the bokeh shots that we preferred under more circumstances, and we rarely needed to pick the iPhone over the Note 8. For the big guys. bokeh shots that are easier on the iPhone, we usually just cropped the Note 8’s footage to tighten the shot, so we didn’t really find the smallest restrictive usage window.
The Note 8 is the first big Galaxy phone to have a dual-lens camera, and it’s a real winner. If it had been on the Galaxy S8, we would have preferred it even more, as the Note 8 as a phone is too big and uncomfortable. The iPhone 8 Plus is also large, but it’s easier to hold than the Note 8, and it outperforms Samsung’s phone when it comes to battery life.
Samsung’s excellent dual-lens camera makes us excited about the Galaxy S9 and we hope Samsung will add a similar system to a more usable everyday device.