Matthew Panzarino on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus

Matthew Panzarino, writing for TechCrunch:

Every time you take a picture with the iPhone 7, both the wide angle and telephoto fire off. Yes, two 12 megapixel pictures for every shot. This could be a prime driver behind the increase of the iPhone 7 Plus’ memory to 3GB.

Both images are needed due to an Apple technique it is calling “fusion” internally. Fusion takes data from both sensors and merges them into the best possible picture for every condition. If, for instance, there is a low-light scene that has some dark areas, the image-processing chip could choose to pick up some image data (pixels or other stuff like luminance) from the brighter f1.8 wide angle and mix it in with the data from the f2.8 telephoto, creating a composite image on the fly without any input from the user. This fusion technique is available to every shot coming from the camera, which means that the iPhone 7 Plus is mixing and matching data every time that trigger is tapped.

This technique is made possible because the optics, coatings, sensors, perspectives and color balances of the two cameras are perfectly matched.

Terrific review. He makes all sorts of points that I wish I’d made in mine.

In my testing I didn’t see any noticeable difference between 1× shots on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus. I think this “fusion” stuff only kicks in, or at least mostly kicks in, once you start increasing the zoom level. Put another way, I think the wide angle lens assists the telephoto lens more than the telephoto lens assists the wide angle.

The other thing I don’t think I emphasized enough in my review: it never feels like you are switching between two cameras. It feels like one camera that has remarkable zoom optics for its size. I emphasized the two-camera stuff because I’m trying to explain (and understand myself) how it works. But in use it’s so simple and integrated. It’s actually hard to believe it’s two cameras when you use it. And the new zoom control interface is so much better. You can still pinch the display to zoom, but the slider is a much better control.

Also worth noting: his jet black iPhone 7 picked up some scratches. Close up, easily visible. Arm’s distance, not so much.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016