One thing us veteran tech reviewers in the fashion and beauty space know is that Apple loves to hit us with announcements smack dab in the middle of one of the most absurdly busy times of our lives: New York Fashion Week. While this might not mean much to many tuning in outside of the fashion world, just imagine trying to keep up with an average of ten appointments and shows per day that are not at all strategically or geographically planned out, a bulging inbox that'll most likely never fit back into its skinny jeans, and flock of fashion frenzied editors all dressed to the nines and crammed into rudely hot spaces for countless hours (thank you, Kanye West).
Tough life, I know, but it does add one more must-not-miss thing to our overfilled plate. So, this season, I made a decision that I thought would end in massive FOMO but *actually* made my life and content, which are arguably one in the same, that much better. I skipped the six and a half hour flight to Apple's HQ in San Fran and instead made the iPhone 7 Plus and famed mobile photographer, Kevin Lu, my new fashion week comrades. With the newest to the scene device and Lu at my side, I got a crash course on not only how to work it but how to shoot like a pro. Here are the highlights:
Optical Zoom at 2x
The first thing you'll notice that's different when you open the camera app (or swipe right from the home screen—the new shortcut) is the 1x-zoom on the screen. Because there are two cameras on the iPhone 7 Plus (a 27mm lens and a 56mm one), it's optimized for both 1x-zoom and a 2x-zoom. Say what? You can take incredible photos and videos of the whole room or close up without sacrificing image quality or worrying about it getting too pixelated because they utilize two different lenses.
So when you're trying to capture Creative Director, Nina Garcia, giving interviews from what seems like a mile away (thanks, security), Apple's got you covered.
If 1x and 2x just aren't doing it for you, fear not. There's also a super handy scroll wheel for zooming that is here to help you capture the images that you want from wherever you might be (imperative when you are late to a show and relegated to the standing room in the back😱).
Simply press and hold the 1x and the wheel will appear. Slide your thumb left to right and voila. Because why pinch when you can scroll? Welcome to the new era of zoom.
Note: Because this phone is optimized for 1x and 2x, anything between or over 2x is bound to lose some of the image quality because it reverts back to standard digital zoom. But the good news is, this shouldn't be noticeable for most of us who are used to previous versions. You will, however, notice the incredible quality of the 2x native zoom option.
Yes, these zoom capabilities certainly do make for better quality photos, but—wait for it—here's more—and it's a mouth full. Optical image stabilization compensates for Hand Shake (definitely a syndrome experienced by many of us editors that refuse to put down our phones in fear of missing, um, anything) by allowing for 3x longer exposure, meaning low light photos will have less blur.
Stay with me here...the larger aperture lets 50 percent more light on the sensor and wide color capture makes bright photos *even* better; the 6-element lens keeps edges on photos sharp; 4th generation local tone mapping software brings out highlights and mid tones; the new Quad-LED True Tone flash is 50 percent brighter for longer range; and overall, the focus is faster and the noise reduction is improved. Can't we just have a filter for that? Just kidding. The answer is, most certainly, no.
So what does this all mean to us? I'll admit it, I had to defer to the pro: "The new phone's photo capabilities, combined with the slightly better display, let's you see colors more vibrantly," Lu says. "It's great for colorful photos, especially in art, fashion, and landscape, but also for photos in general." And, honestly, what else is there?
If you still aren't convinced, the improvements to the focus alone on this phone might make it worth the upgrade. "Most people take photos of friends or when they see something special, and it's usually when lighting is tricky," Lu explains. "The new improved focus helps you get the photos you want without interfering too much. It's not perfect, of course, but it's a lot better than previous versions." So there you have it, it's better. Much better.
In case you aren't going for a full frontal, you'll be pleased to hear that there's now body detection on the newest devices. It allows the phone to not only identify people by a face, but by bodies as well, which will improve the exposure of your subject. And if anyone knows this better than us editors, it's the photographers trying to capture the content (and there's more and more of them doing it via mobile).
"Everything on the runway happens so fast," says Lu. "Before [the iPhone 7 Plus] I'd have a tough time grabbing models walking on the runway. The new phone is slightly better in that it tracks people from the back, with no face in the photo, so now I'm still able to grab a great shot." As many of us already know, this is as true of a struggle on the runway as it is off; so look forward to that.
Here's a bonus for anyone looking to get closer to pro-quality photos from their iPhone. There is now a RAW API for developers so you can have raw sensor data in the form of a DNG file. Again, what does this mean? Leave it to Lu to break it down for us once more: "As a photographer, I want the best from my camera. On my DSLR camera, I shoot RAW for more processing, and before I wasn't able to do that because the phones shoot in jpeg. With this new feature, I can grab unaltered photos so I can retain a lot more data for my post processing. For me, it's a huge advantage."
So here's the bottom line: whether you have a second to capture a photo from the ill-lit runways or looking to catch some shade from haters that are jelly of your next drool-worthy vacation pics, Apple proves that 7 is your lucky number.