With the iPhone 7, Apple Changed the Camera Industry Forever

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Sep 152016
 

Camera companies, like traditional phone manufacturers, dismissed the iPhone as a toy when it launched, in 2007. Nokia thought that the iPhone used inferior technology; the camera makers thought that it took lousy pictures. Neither thought that they had anything to worry about. Of course, neither anticipated the value of having a computer in your pocket, and what the camera folks, especially, didn’t anticipate was that, as the photographer Chase Jarvis puts it, the best camera is the one that’s with you.

The iPhone didn’t really start to cannibalize the camera business until the iPhone 4 came out, in 2010. That year, Instagram was born and a hundred and twenty-two million digital cameras were sold—a record, according to the Camera and Imaging Products Association, a Japanese camera makers’ trade organization. By 2015, however, that number had shrunk to about thirty-five million. Since that time, the iPhone has bulked up its photographic capabilities and formed a symbiotic relationship with social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and, especially, Instagram. The better the phone camera became, the more photos we started to snap and share. There are now nearly a billion smartphones worldwide capturing selfies, birthday smiles, breakfast sandwiches, Tuscan villages, and cats. In the past, such photos were taken by a point-and-shoot camera. Even today, the interchangeable-lens cameras and high-end cameras have their fans, so demand for these monsters still exists. But for how long?

We don’t know the digital-camera industry’s own answer to that question, but as of Wednesday the time frame certainly shortened. That was the day Apple announced its new iPhone. While in most ways the device launch was predictable, the iPhone 7 Plus, with its souped-up camera, made a big impression on serious photographers. The iPhone 7 Plus, which retails for seven hundred and sixty-nine dollars (or higher) has two lenses—a 28-mm.-equivalent, 12-megapixel lens and a 56-mm.-equivalent, 12-megapixel telephoto lens. Apple has managed to pack a lot of premium features—longer exposures, better aperture, and the ability to shoot digital negatives, which professionals call DNGs. A DNG is, essentially, a photo file that captures all the visual information possible for further manipulation, such as enhancing shadows or removing highlights. The new iPhone uses circuitry, software, and algorithms to create images that look and feel as if they came out of high-end cameras. Tellingly, Apple’s presentation of the camera’s abilities was the one aspect of the biennial iPhone rollout that wasn’t mercilessly mocked on social media.

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iPhone 7 and 7 Plus Announced: Dual Cameras for Zoom and Bokeh

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Sep 092016
 

iphone7viewsfeat

Apple just announced the new iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, a smartphone it calls “the world’s most advanced smartphone.”

The phones feature a new aluminum body that comes in shiny black, matte black, gold, silver, and rose gold.

Both phones are now officially water and dust resistant, boasting an IP67 protection standard that means your iPhone will be safe from splashes.

iPhone 7

The iPhone 7 has a new camera system that features optical image stabilization system that lets you shoot longer exposures while reducing shake, larger f/1.8 aperture that lets in 50% more light, a 6-element lens that delivers sharp images, a new 12-megapixel sensor that’s 60% faster and 30% more energy efficient.

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The flash is a Quad-LED system that True Tone flash, 50% more light, and Flicker sensor that compensates for the flickering in artificial light. Here are a couple of sample photos shot using the new flash:

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The image signal processor at the core of the phone has 2x the throughput compared to previous iPhones. It uses machine learning to detect objects and people. The system then sets exposure, focus, color, white balance, tone mapping, noise reduction, and multiple image compositing. Everything is done in 25 milliseconds.

Here are sample photographs shot using the iPhone 7: