The Portrait mode that Apple talked up during the iPhone 7 Plus’ release is finally here.
ICYMI, download and install iOS 10.1 to see it magically appear within your iPhablet’s camera app. What it does is turn out photos with beautifully blurred backgrounds and it works best on putting the focus on people, hence the name.
But how should you use it to get the best results? We did all the experimenting on your behalf so you can get right into turning out the perfect portraits effortlessly.
Follow the instructions
What we like most is there’s no guesswork with Apple. There’s no need for you to try and figure out whether you should move nearer or farther and bop around like an idiot. Aside from bokeh being applied in real time, there are also instructions on the screen to guide you through the process. They range from telling you to “Move closer” to “More light required” so even the most amateur of mobile photographers can land great shots.
Unfortunately, there’s no option to turn the instructions off if you can’t get over Siri’s voice in your head.
Distance is everything
As Portrait mode Siri will keep reminding you, keep your subject within 2.5 metres from the lens and in the foreground. While the idea of you standing in the middle of a blurred out crowd is great, it only exists in theory.
It works the best if you keep your subject as close as possible to the lens so everything can fade into the background bokeh. Sometimes it was also a bit of a hit and miss affair; parts of an inanimate subject would also be blurred. This is still in beta so hopefully it improves.
If you want the light effect, find fairy lights to take a shot in front of. But in situations where fairy lights can't be found, ceiling lights work as well. You will just have to shoot upwards.
Lock it in
You have to keep pretty still to make it work or keep tapping where you want to focus. Not the best if you want a pretty portrait of hyperactive Rover. For what it’s worth, AF/AE lock works in Portrait mode so tap and hold on Rover’s face to activate it. Even if he’s twitching, as long as he stays where he is, there’s still a good chance you can land a nice profile image for his Instagram account.
And if all else fails, timer works too. Seat yourself next to Rover, hold him still, set the timer turn your iPhone 7 Plus around on you and hope for the best. We wish Portrait mode works on the front-facing cam because it’s a match made in photography heaven. Maybe for the next iPhone, huh?