Sunday, February 11, 2018
A lot of mobile phone owners, particularly those with an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X, seem to think the short depth-of-field effects made possible by the new Portrait mode are of a standard that make them indistinguishable from photos taken by DSLR cameras.
Well, I don’t think they’re quite there yet – and I’m going to try to explain why.
But first, a few provisos: it is completely possible for a mobile phone to take a photo that is head-and-shoulders superior to one taken by a DSLR. The difference is the photographer and his/her sense of composition, lighting, and optics.
That said, one of the things I’ve noticed is that mobile phones are incapable of creating the pops of light that occur in the background when there are bright lights in small areas – such as sunlight against the leaves of a shrub. Instead, what you get is something very oddly muted, as though the entire background has been put through a generic gaussian blur filter.
There are other tells, of course, and this particular clue doesn’t show up as clearly on photos where the lighting is flat – but it’s the easiest to explain. Other tells include focal length, noise, and whole bunch of other technical compromises that you wouldn’t expect to see on a photo taken with a DSLR that make it look not quite right… I think I need to figure out how to put it all into words before I say anything more, though.