Guest Feature: First Impression of the iPhone 7 Plus... DSLR Killer?

All images were used with the permission of Christopher Mollon.

What’s up KeenanRIVALS blog readers? It’s Monday morning and I am getting back into the working swing of things here in Detroit after my long weekend in Chicago, IL. A weekend, I might add, that was my first one with the new iPhone 7 Plus and its “2 camera lenses”

So let’s get right into this.

So as both a photographer and a member of the cult of Apple, the announcement of the new iPhone 7 and more importantly, the iPhone 7 Plus, obviously made my ears perk up. I think the biggest issue consumers run into when hearing about new tech is keeping things in perspective. Forgetting to ask ourselves: Are the specs really that good or is this marketing?

In the case of the new iPhone 7 Plus, this was my absent minded mistake. Seeing the image previews at the announcement event up on the big screen and being told “These are not manipulated images” and for that moment of visual misguidance, forgetting that that statement is probably one of the biggest lies in any marketing scenario involving images in most cases. I got baited.

While Apple did trick and mislead with their doctored photo examples, I will be giving my real opinion on this tested new camera system in the iPhone 7 Plus.

Let me shorten this up for you and tell you something extremely important I think a lot of photographers need to remember, myself included. If you can’t take an amazing photo on an iPhone 5/5S/5C/5SE/6/6S, you can’t take an amazing photo on an iPhone 7/7 Plus. Plain and simple.

It’s like any camera on a phone.

It’s limited.

Is it a better camera? Yes. Its sharper. During good daylight is where I see the most improvement and it really does seem to be able to handle lower light better in a way that makes things appear sharper ON THE PHONE SCREEN. I put emphasis on “on the phone screen” because realistically, that’s the only place iPhone photos are ever going to truly live. On the phone. If these new camera shots were printed, I doubt they’d be able to hold up as well.

RAW vs Edit

Do I think this will replace DSLR/Mirrorless cameras? No. not even close.

Is it something I think will be an awesome thing to have in your pocket for photos? Hell yeah.

I found myself shooting with my phone this weekend way more than I ever have in the past.

I honestly could hit the streets with just my iPhone and feel confident enough that I could get photos that I’m happy enough with to share on social media as I would my photos I share taken with my “more professional” cameras. Whereas before, with my previous iPhones, I really wouldn’t. So, in that regard, it is that much of an improvement.

I want to touch on something though that was, in a way, hidden, or rather I don’t remember them talking about in the event: The fact that the 56mm “telephoto” lens on the 7 Plus is a 2.8 aperture and not a 1.8, as they so predominantly boasted about the 28mm “wide angle” lens having throughout the unveiling of the dual camera system.

What does this mean? Well, a few things:

  1. A lot less light being let into the 2x “optical” zoom lens (56mm) when shooting in a lower light condition.
  2. Less light means slower shutter speeds.
  3. Slower shutter speeds means shakier images
  4. Shakier images + small cell phone sensors means ….looks like shit.

To be quite honest, I told Keenan I would write up a quick first impression of this new camera system for the iPhones. However, as I’m typing this, I’m thinking I should have perhaps waited for the artificial bokeh update they’re supposedly dropping via firmware “soon”, to really give an honest first impression of both lenses. I say this due to the fact that I don’t see myself ever using the 56mm lens on the phone, it just doesn’t have that “50mm feel”.

It just seems like I’m zoomed in.

28mm vs 56mm

A big reason photographers use longer lenses for portraiture (50/85mm) is because of the compression and background separation of a longer lens with a wider aperture. The 56mm iPhone 7 plus lens doesn’t feel like its compressed like I said, it just feels like I’m zooming in on the original camera with a little bit more quality added to it. That on top of the fact that they avoided mentioning that it is only a 2.8, just really makes it more of a gimmick than a practical addition at this time without that update. Again though, we will see once that update comes out that gives us that artificial bokeh., we will see.

To sum this up. I’m happy I bought the phone. Not just for the camera, but for the fact that the phone just kicks ass. It’s faster, feels nicer, the new home button has a way nicer feel to it than the previous clickable tech they used, and yes, overall the camera is a solid upgrade. I’ll include a couple photos I edited on my phone with various apps, all shot with my iPhone 7 Plus over this past weekend in Chicago.

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out Keenan’s other blogs. This guy works harder than any other photographer I know of in Detroit, so give him the recognition he deserves.


Twitter/Instagram: @photoventureboy