Portrait Mode – Nice Meh?

Date:  Sep 23, 2017

OK.  I have a chance to play with my wife’s new phone.    It has arrived today, and she was busy at her Aquaponics setup.  So, I open the box, and test drive it.

iPhone 8 Plus.  (All the while I used the smaller 4.7″ screen size iPhone).

So, they said it comes with a great camera.

And the most talk of the town is the Portrait Mode.  With the Stage Light.

This is like shooting people photo with the background bokeh.


So, after I shoot many photos…


Let’s see the photos first…

From far, it looks nice.  Really nice.  Bokeh behind.

With good light available, the photos looks ok.


But some times, the photo looks a bit artificial.


The contour of the face, looks a bit artificial, like paper cuts…

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.12.25 PM.png

Here is another one I took.


You can clearly see the face is not smooth.  It is like paper cut.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.13.58 PM.png

If you have sufficient lighting at the foreground, it looks ok.  From far.  If you look closer, you can feel the paper cutting effect.


The Portrait mode with stage light mono.. black and white…



Paper cutting.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.16.41 PM.png

Under low light… it will become very obvious…


See the hair…

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.17.10 PM.png

Sometimes is nice, sometimes is bad.

May be I am not expert, but after taking a few shots, I can see it.  It is pretty obvious.

Just like the iPhone X notch cover a bit of the screen of the full size screen.




Not smooth at all.

Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 10.20.08 PM.png

It does not looks natural at all.


My conclusion:

  1. Smart phone is so small, so thin.  so, you can’t put a big sensor to make it good.  So, smaller sensor means lower quality of photo.
  2. So, if your sensor is small, what do you do to make your photo great.  You use software to make it great.  So, to me, this is like a “filter”.  You know, when you post to Instagram, their filters always make the photo looks great.

So, my opinion is, the DSLR or Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera can still survive.  Because they have bigger sensor (it’s physics, you can’t change that.)  So, if you want to take good photos of your kids growing up phases… invest in a camera, invest in the time to learn how to shoot a good photo.

Here are some of the photos NOT TAKEN by smart phone camera.  This is using my Fujifilm X-T1 + Mitakon 35mm f0.95 lens (China made).


It does not give you a paper cutting feeling.


The bokeh and the subject blends in.


No paper cutting feeling.


This is a selfie from a silver polished surface of a sphere.  See, no paper cutting feeling.


But for a small sensor camera smartphone to produce what they try to imitate a DSLR/large sensor camera… Apple had done a good job.  I believe they can improve further on the software.

So, to buy or not to buy, its up to you.  What do you want.  What are you looking for.  🙂


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