a photo editor’s take on Apple’s latest and greatest

Apple claims its new and improved hardware performs 5 trillion operations per second, starting as soon as you enter the camera app, so it can do things like detect faces and process data on the light, colour and depth of your subject, making the same kinds of adjustments a professional photographer might make but instantaneously.

Sam, an early swimmer at Austinmer beach in Wollongong. Photo taken at sunrise with the new Apple iPhone Xs Max.

Sam, an early swimmer at Austinmer beach in Wollongong. Photo taken at sunrise with the new Apple iPhone Xs Max.

Photo: Mags King

King is impressed by the “incredible speed” of the shutter, and says that while the phone’s algorithms can’t completely replicate the work of a skilled photographer (“I don’t think a frame you take on an iPhone will ever win the World Press,” she says), users can get amazing images “without having to actually go through what professional photographers have to go through to achieve a strong frame”.

“As soon as you switch it on, the image you’re confronted with is quite spectacular,” she said.

The magic falls away a little bit once you take the images away from Apple’s own screen to work with it elsewhere, though, especially when it comes to photos taken in low light.

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“Yesterday I took some images in low lighting and in Photoshop there are areas where it starts breaking up,” King says.

“However this morning at the beach at sunrise, it hasn’t done that at all. You can see every droplet of the water.”

Another area where Apple’s reality distortion field is a little more visible is in its improved bokeh effect in the iPhone’s portrait mode.

This is where the device simulates the effect of a high-end lens by separating the photo’s subject from the background and applying levels of blur. New in this year’s iPhones, users can edit the intensity of the blur effect even after they’ve taken the photo.

But while the effect can be quite convincing in certain circumstances, things like curly hair or a mix of near and far background elements can trip the software up and make for images that wouldn’t come close to convincing a photography enthusiast.

“It appears as though it’s exercising different apertures, post taking the shot, but it’s down to the software,” King says. “Although I think Apple is pretty transparent about that.”

Bokeh effect in action: Pheona Mulligan with her dog Fergie.

Bokeh effect in action: Pheona Mulligan with her dog Fergie.

Photo: Mags King

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