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News & Insight

The iPhone 7 & 7 Plus | The Bell Tolls For Point & Shoots

By Kishore Sawh on September 7th 2016

Around the world today you’d be hard pressed to find more widely spread news than that of the release of the new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. It’s arguably the most anticipated tech announcement on the calendar and there was a lot riding on this one. Apple’s had an interesting few years, with fluctuating stock values attributed largely due to lack of innovation, the tax bill to end all tax bills, and for the first time, declining iPhone sales; so the iPhone 7 series had to be bold.

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You can go watch the keynote or the ad spots, but in case you couldn’t be bothered to sit through 2 hours of it, the highlight reel goes something like this:

Water resistance
Extended battery life
Removal of analog headphone jack
Haptic feedback
Stereo speakers
A10 processor
New colours
Larger hard drives

And then the highlight reel for photographers:

True Tone LED Quad Flash
Wide gamut Color Space
12MP f/1.8 camera on iPhone 7
2 12MP cameras on iPhone 7 Plus (Wide f/1.8, telephoto 56mm f/2.8)
Raw editing capability within iOS 10 (see here)
Optical Image Stabilization
Backside illumination
Improved tone mapping
Body and Face detection
6 element lens
4K video 30fps (Canon users get a decent video cam now ;-)
1080p at 30 or 60fps
Slow Mo 1080 at 120fps or 720p at 240 fps
Time Lapse Video with stabilization
Continuous AF for Video
Lightroom raw processing at 90% desktop capability*

If you’ve been keeping up to-date with the arena of point and shoots over the last 4 years, what you’ll recognize from this list of features is that the 7 Plus has pretty much every feature you’d expect from a dedicated, albeit average, point and shoot. It’s only amongst the more expensive range of around $400 and up can you expect any feature set to best this. The problem here is that they won’t best it by much, and for any image capturing of frivolity, this phone will likely do. You’d have to go the range of the Sony RX100 M4 to truly outclass this as an everyday, and that costs near-as-makes-no-difference a thousand dollars. As such, it would seem that this is the nail in the coffin for the point and shoot.

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There was no direct mention of raw processing, but from the developer’s conference in June we can assume that iDevices from now on will come with raw shooting ability, and we know iOS 9 already supports raw files to be viewed and edited in select applications, and iOS 10 should see the full 400 cameras from 16 companies being supported for their raw formats. The fact that Phil directly mentioned Lightroom’s ability to process raw lends to this as well. Beyond that, there’s much mention of the noise handling capability and tuning ability in-camera, which likely means shooting in raw, and the fact Apple has made it a point to address the wide color space suggests this further.

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iPhone 7 Plus – The One You Will Likely Want

The video features for sure will also be appreciated, and the optical image stabilization will be a boon to any serious or casual video shooter. That you should also be able to shoot in 4K and pull 8MP stills from that video is impressive. Everything about video recoding on the iPhone has been improved, and yet as impressive as that is, it’s not the elephant in the room. That distinction belongs to the iPhone 7 Plus, and its dual cameras.

The iPhone 7 Plus has the primary differentiating feature that will get photographers and everyday shooters interested, as it’s the only model to get the dual cameras. On the rear of this behemoth you’ll find 2 12MP cameras, one of which is wide with an f/1.8 aperture, and the other which is a 56mm f/2.8 marketed as a telephoto. Essentially that telephoto allows for twice the focal reach/zoom of the regular lens, and according to the reports and sample imagery, decent portraits with defocused backgrounds. It is, simply, what many of us have always wanted. Sort of…

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[REWIND: How Apple Views Photography | Here’s What’s Coming & It’s More Than Just Raw Capture]

Because there’s a problem. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s not exactly natural defocus, even though the bokeh looks pretty damn good from Apple’s meticulously curated samples. The iPhone 7 Plus will essentially create a depth map of the scene, allow you to preview that live, do some internal wizzardry, and then render your defocus. How effective this is in practice we’ll have to wait to see, though it’s hard to argue that software processed defocus is a bit concerning. But, I can’t imagine this will bother 95% of those who use it. So all in all, it looks like a hit.

So, ready to fork over the $869 for the 128GB iPhone 7 Plus?

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Mary Hurlbut

    looks like a great tool for Instagraming

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  2. Peter McWade

    I see it as being the go to camera for video blogging. Hands down its a social media camera. Don’t worry about it taking over the camera business. I do find myself using my iPhone6+s quite a bit for those quick shots when I just don’t have my Sony A7RII around my neck or by my side.

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  3. adam sanford

    The point and shoot is in trouble, but until a cell phone can…

    1) Offer a much much much larger sensor
    2) Be as responsive as an SLR
    3) Stop down the lens to f/8 or so (almost all cell phone lenses are fixed to shoot at widest aperture only)

    …I still see a lot Rebels and A6300s getting sold.

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    • Stan Rogers

      You’re adding a lot of yourself in there, Adam. To a two-sigma statistical significance, “nobody” wants a camera, nor have they ever wanted a camera. (The people who have no desire to take any pictures at all number about as many as we do.) They want, and have always wanted, a thing that takes good enough pictures (for some value of “good enough”) with as little thought, effort and inconvenience as possible. If you think responsiveness is an actual priority, I invite you to walk out cameraless among the masses in places where (non-sporting) pictures are most likely to be taken, and you’ll see, among the phone-and-tablet crowd, people with entry-level DSLRs and MILCs spending 30 seconds on the countdowns and “say cheeses” with every shot. *You* want responsive; most of the people who have it don’t know what it is or avail themselves of it in any significant way. *You* want a large sensor; they want relatively noise-free and a bit of separation sometimes, but not so much that if they’re shooting a vista they need to worry about adequate DoF or hyperfocal-versus-infinity (a small sensor at sufficient distance obviates those considerations even at wide apertures).

      Look, I understand the sentiment. We enthusiasts, aspiring pros and actual professionals have been riding the coattails of the consumer quest for “good enough” for a couple of decades now. It makes our toys a whole lot cheaper than they rightly ought to be. Some of that is because SLRs and behemoth bridges were needed to get anywhere near ISO 100/200 126 Instamatic quality until embarrassingly recently. Some of it is because the technology finally got to the point that far, far too many people got the idea that going pro would be a doddle (they’re the ones who brought down the prices on long and wide lenses and entry-level studio gear). That full-on fad is gone now. Yes, there are still a few people who don’t realise that they need to know more than the camera, and that god photography is actually hard work, but they’re and much farther between these days. To two sigmas, people have the thing they want in their pocket. It’s not a camera, as such, but it takes good enough pictures, and they don’t need to carry around anything extra. And to them, that’s what matters.

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    • Stan Rogers

      It should go without saying, of course, that god photography is hard work. However, I meant to type “good photography” there — and while it’s not ultimately nearly as difficult as god photography, it’s still not as easy as some people think it is.

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    • adam sanford

      Stan, you have been missed. I trust you are well.

      My list is not a demanding one — I am just trying to distill down why moms and dads buy Rebels.

      In your parlance:

      *Everyone* wants their concert photos to not look like dreck.

      *Everyone* wants to catch their child swinging at a pitch before that moment has passed.

      I could go on.

      Whether they understand the nuances of sensor size or why they need a certain DOF for a landscape shot is irrelevant, they recognize that cell phones cannot do it all… *yet*.

      They know enough that a larger dedicated camera will capture their son’s piano recital in a dark room or take a lovely landscape shot better than their cell phones, and until that is no longer so, SLRs, ILCs, etc. will continue to sell.

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  4. Kyle Stauffer

    Once they add a hot shoe or PC sync to these things, a wedding event will be filled with “Uncle Bob” and his speed lights. lol

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  5. barbara farley

    I was wondering if the iPhone 7 was going to make me regret buying an rx100. It did not. If they had put all that into the SE, I would probably have a little buyer’s remorse.

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  6. Robert T. Johnson

    It’s still a cell phone that take photos.

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  7. Jean-Francois Perreault

    I agree the point & shoot is in trouble.

    I though, and maybe still think, that the more pictures people took, the more they’d want to move up to something better.
    And in today’s consumerism age, shelling 500$ for a camera isn’t as big of a deal as it was 10 years ago. But DSLR sales don’t show this.

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  8. Lance Mills

    It is always a bonus to have a nice phone camera in your pocket spare, but still not something you can truly rely on I feel

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