Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera review: Stunning low-light performance

The Apple iPhone 7 plus camera might actually put off at least a few people from investing in a DSLR

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi | Updated: October 9, 2016 8:45 am
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The Apple iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus will start selling in India from today. The iPhone 7 series brings in a lot of new features. But the one thing that has captured everyone’s attention the most is the dual camera on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus. While a lot of other companies too have phones with dual rear cameras, Apple is doing it differently.

WATCH VIDEO: Apple iPhone 7 Plus Camera Review And Image Test

The iPhone 7 Plus has a wide angle lens and a 56mm equivalent telephoto lens at the rar. So when you shoot you have the option to click the 2X button and jump to zoom in a jiffy. Hold on to this 2X button and you get a dial that lets you zoom all the way up to 10x for photos. Up to 2X is optical zoom and the rest is digital. The zoom works across photo modes like panorama and square. The zoom is, however, limited to 6x when you are shooting video. You can zoom in on slowmotion too.

Since most of the other aspects of the phone is already known, we decided to take the Apple iPhone 7 Plus for a spin on the first day we had it. The results this 12MP camera can throw up are really great. But we don’t need to tell you about it. You can see the evidence below.

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This is a regular shot of one of the monuments at the Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi. You can see the details the camera has been able to capture.

Apple is touting the vivid colours the phone can capture. These photos give a good idea of what vibrant colours and details can do to an image.

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Now for the zoom. From 1x to 2x this is no distortion at all. And that is thanks to the optical zoom. If you zoom further the results will start showing a bit of noise as in other smartphone cameras. However, the dial is very interesting and it maybe the fastest zoom I have seen and that includes point and shoot cameras. You almost have to ensure you don’t overshoot the subject with the zoom.

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In video, the zoom is limited to the point where the picture is still good. So videos shot in full zoom are not really bad.

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The Huawei P9 too has a dual camera, one of which is black and white. This helps it create great contrast. The dual cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus too seems to have a similar capability offering constraints as well as detail where needed.

I have always been a low light photographer. Now before you think I am a dimwit behind the lens let me tell you this is mostly about being averse to using the flash. The iPhone 7 series has a f/1.8 aperture that caters to this fetish. While in a moderately lit room this tends to bring in some extra exposure which you might need to control, I discovered that this takes smartphone photography to a whole new level when you are in certain circumstances. Inside the basement of one of the monuments, I was astounded by the amount of light this camera could suck in. I could see the cobwebs on the roof of this centuries old structure as well as the detail on the time weathered wall. And while shooting video, the camera adjusted automatically as I walked in from the sun into this dimly lit cell. Then the two earthen vessels on the ground with light seeping in through the small door. That’s the moment the phone sold itself to me.

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There is one more really fascinating feature which I have seen in a couple of demos, but not been able to try myself. The portrait feature will be rolled out as an update soon and till then we have just the photos Apple showed off at its launch. But during the demo I could see how the feature blurs the background keeping just the subject in focus like top-end DSLR. And the camera saves a version of the photo without the bokey effect too. I will wait till I get to try this out.

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Then the 7MP iSight camera. No, it doesn’t have a beauty mode, but still manages to make even my mug look presentable.

For now, the iPhone 7 Plus camera itself makes this a worthy upgrade for people bitten by the photo bug. With the zoom, low light capabilities and the impending portrait feature, this phone might actually start replacing at least some non-serious DSLR purchases. For now, the best cameras in comparison are the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 — if it manages to make a comeback — the Samsung Galaxy S7 edge and the Moto Z with its Hasselblad Mod.