Camera test

Slight improvements over 7 Plus

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif .– Let’s get right to the point now.

If you’ve been thinking about ditching your iPhone 7 Plus from last year for a new iPhone, especially the 8 Plus (starting at $ 799) or the iPhone X coming in November because the camera is new and improved, here is the result. The new camera is indeed slightly better.

But most consumers will find it difficult to tell the difference.

The basics

Our tests with the iPhone 8 Plus (which has almost the same camera as in the iPhone X) showed slightly better color and sharpness, can rock it with a smooth, super slow motion which improved what the The iPhone 7 Plus has, and offers some software deception that can make your portraits look even more professional. Additionally, the 8 Plus and X both feature the new A11 “Bionic” chip, the fastest processor ever for an iPhone, promising faster renderings of high intensity 4K video files.

Beyond making calls, surfing the internet and playing games, photography has become a major selling point for new smartphones, with every new model released by manufacturers now having the best camera ever. . That’s what Google said with last year’s Pixel, Samsung with the new Galaxy S8, and now Apple as well. The three cameras are indeed amazing. They now have better image quality than point and shoot cameras, and they’re always with us, giving us the tools for more photo opportunities.

A sunflower photographed on the iPhone 8 Plus phone.  Look closely and you will see more texture in the heart of the flower.
A sunflower photographed on the iPhone 7 Plus.  Look closely at the heart of the flower, there is not as much texture as with the iPhone 8 Plus.

I thought the iPhone 7 Plus was indeed Apple’s best camera to date, so for the purposes of this story, I chose to compare the 7 Plus to the 8 Plus, period.

Recall that Apple introduced in 2016 a new concept of “iPhoneography” with the 7 Plus, by putting a dual-lens system for owners of Plus, offering the standard 28mm wide-angle lens (the same as on the ‘iPhone standard) as well as a 56mm Portrait Lens, for a more professional look for photos of people. Consumers who buy the Plus instead of the smaller iPhone get the dual cameras, along with the larger 5.5-inch LCD, on the smaller 4.7-inch iPhone 7s and 8s.

The same dual-lens system is back on the 8 Plus and the new iPhone X edition, the top model coming in November. The X also has a few new photo features, including a faster portrait lens with optical image stabilization and a newly designed phone with an edge-to-edge display.

Here, and in the accompanying video, we show you lots of back-to-back photos of the iPhone 8 Plus and 7 Plus. I challenge most consumers to be able to spot the differences. My Facebook followers certainly couldn’t tell about most of the pictures I posted this weekend. This photo directly below, of a lifeguard station, was one that many could indeed tell. The photo of the iPhone 8 Plus is on the right, the iPhone 7 Plus on the left.


The video is improved, but the video on the iPhone 7 Plus was also excellent.

The 8 Plus has several new recording modes: 4K resolution at 24 frames per second, or 60 frames, both for different cinematic looks, as well as a new Slo-Mo mode at 240 frames per second. This is one of the smoothest, slowest Slo-Mos we’ve seen to date. That’s higher than possible on the 7 Plus, which peaks at 240 fps at 720p.

Check out the examples below.

Low light

Apple claims the 8 Plus performs better in low light than the 7 Plus.

We were in the sand at 5:30 am, ready to test it.

The Manhattan Beach Pier at 5:55 a.m. during a low-light lighting test on the iPhone 8 PLUS

The verdict: yes, it works well in low light situations, but so does the iPhone 7 Plus. At 5:55 a.m., all of our footage looked really poor, loud, and dark – on both devices – as you can see in the photo above. But at 6:29 am, once the light started to catch on our day, things started to improve dramatically.

Here is an example below. It was still so early that the lights were still on at Manhattan Beach Pier. The iPhone 8 Plus is on the left, the 7 Plus on the right. The 8 Plus has slightly richer colors.

Software tips

On the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple introduced a cool new software feature called Portrait, which applies a DSLR like a blurry background to the people and things you photograph.

For the 8 Plus, Apple added five new features to Portrait, what it calls “Natural, Outline, Studio, Stage and Black and White”.

In a nutshell, they brighten the face, add contrast, and in the most dramatic of looks, remove the background to put the focus directly on your subject.

The examples below are Natural, Studio, Stage, and Black & White. This is how the iPhone 8 Plus saw photographer Tony Prince, who graciously agreed to pose for us at 6 a.m. at the beach.

As you can see, the Outline feature is brighter, but in my eyes it’s a bit much. I prefer the natural. The stage lighting effect is great when working. None of our attempts have been perfect.

Note that the features are also available after the fact: you don’t have to put them on during the shoot. But you might want to email the original to yourself and work on a copy, then decide which one you prefer.

The stage lighting software trick in iPhone 8 Plus portrait lighting tools.  Photographer Tony Prince poses for us.

New file format

For the new iOS11 and iPhone 8 and 8 Plus device owners, Apple has introduced a new photo / video file format, .HEIC and .HEVC, promising smaller file sizes and better compression.

But beware, guys. I had a lot of trouble transferring these files to my MacBook, Dropbox, and Google Photos, which initially didn’t play them. Additionally, you currently cannot open a .HEIC file in Photoshop, the industry standard for photo editing.

We have two workarounds for you:

On your iPhone, go to Settings, Photos and scroll to the last entry, Transfer to Mac or PC, and choose Automatic. This will ensure that the files are transferred as .JPG and .MOV files, not as .HEIC and .HEVC files.

Second, I downloaded this .HEIC converter, which did the job and converted the files to .JPG format.

Final result

Red roses captured on iPhone 8 Plus camera

The 8 Plus has the best camera Apple has released to date and performs wonderfully in a variety of different conditions. That he can do so much is a wonder.

But if you currently have a 7 Plus and want to swap it in for the new one for a better camera, my recommendation would be to stick with what you have, unless you just feel like spending the money.

The differences between the old and new cameras are slight, and the most striking feature, Portrait mode software tricks, could be achieved with a variety of free photo apps, including Adobe Lightroom Mobile or Google’s Snapseed.

The 8 Plus is a great phone, but it will be new in a few weeks, with a whole new design and an even better camera and… stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

Readers, what do you think of the new iPhone 8 Plus camera? Let’s discuss it on Twitter, @jeffersongraham. To see more photos and videos, I invite you to visit my website for a closer look.

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