Portrait Mode: iPhone X vs. Galaxy Note 8 vs. Huawei Mate 10 vs. Sony A7

My last camera comparison clearly showed all top-smartphones have top-cameras - even in low light. But what about portrait mode? Let‘s find out.

Sony A7 vs iPhone X vs Galaxy Note 8 vs Mate 10

To add a little extra challenge to the comparison I once again took the same shots with my Sony A7. I cropped all the images so that focal length or the aspect ratio don’t give the camera away too easily. By the way I took all the pictures on a rainy day with less then ideal light and of course without a tripod. 

So let's compare! Can you spot the picture shot with the full frame camera?


Curiously the comparison with the truck turned out to be a challenge for all three phones. With the Mate, only the second picture turned out to be useful. With the iPhone and the Note, I had to switch off portrait mode completely to get the shot. Below you can see the failed attempts from all three phones. The wheels were apparently especially difficult for the software to get right. 

Solution: 

1st picture: A (iPhone X), B (Sony A7), C (Note 8), D (Mate 10) 

2nd picture: A (Mate 10), B (Note 8), C (Sony A7), D (iPhone X)

3rd picture: A (Note 8, portrait mode didn't work), B (Mate 10), C (Sony A7), D (iPhone X)

4th picture: A (Mate 10), B (Note 8), C (Sony A7), D (iPhone X)

5th picture: A (Mate 10), B (Note 8, portrait mode turned off), C (Sony A7), D (iPhone X, portrait mode turned off)

6th picture: A (Note 8), B (iPhone X), C (Mate 10)  

Once again I leave the conclusion to you guys. How difficult was it to spot the full frame camera? Which smartphone camera do you like best? Do you even have a favorite? Let me know on Twitter

Low light: iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 8 vs. Mate 10

I love non-scientific real world camera comparisons. This time I took the newest and best phones into our dimly light cellar. 

I tried the Galaxy Note 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, the iPhone X and the Huawei Mate 10. Please note: Google doesn't sell the Pixel 2 in Switzerland. So, no Pixel. Sorry!

All four phones have double cameras. But the Huawei is at a slight disadvantage. It doesn't have a zoom lens and uses digital zoom. The second lens is the same focal length but with a black and white sensor. The zoom lens of the iPhone 8 Plus is the only lens in the comparison that isn't optically stabilized. 

All photos were taken with the standard camera app. No special settings. And no flash. 

iPhone X: 1x.

iPhone X: 2x.

iPhone 8 Plus: 1x.

iPhone 8 Plus: 2x.

Huawei Mate 10: 1x.

Huawei Mate 10: 2x (digital zoom).

Galaxy Note 8: 1x.

Galaxy Note 8: 2x. 

The Note 8 obviously produces the brightest images. But what happens if you turn up the brightness of the iPhone X picture? Let's have a look:

Galaxy Note 8: 2x (no editing).

iPhone X: 2x (brightness adjusted).

And finally a comparison between the zoom lenses of the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus. What a difference the optical images stabilization makes!

iPhone X: 2x with optical image stabilization. 

iPhone 8 Plus: 2x without optical image stabilization.

In the end, I think it's amazing how smartphone photography improves with every new generation. A few years ago all these images would have turned out downright terrible. 

What do you guys think of these comparisons? Let me know on Twitter

P.S. The top and bottom pictures with all four phones were shot with my Sony A7 fullframe camera. It took a 30s exposure and a tripod to get these pictures at f/5 and ISO 100. Translation for non-photographers: It was quite dark. 

iPhone X: Where did the HDR option go?


Yesterday I took the iPhone X out to shoot some pictures. As with the iPhone 8, I like the camera a lot. But I'm still working on my final review.

When reviewing the pictures on the new OLED-screen I noticed something I hadn‘t on the iPhone 8. In the camera app, the HDR-option is gone. And HDR is always on. 

The camera app without the HDR-option (left) and after activating it.

The camera app without the HDR-option (left) and after activating it.

Don‘t get me wrong. I like HDR. Just not always and without the possibility to easily turn it off. Luckily there is an option hidden in settings/camera. To get full control over the HDR-function back, turn Auto HDR off. 

how to deactivate auto-hdr in ios 11

The best thing about the iPhone X? The new swipe gestures

Only had the iPhone X for two days. I‘ve already written a first impression article for the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger and I‘m working on a big review now.  

The more I use the iPhone X the more obvious it gets. My favorite feature isn‘t the new design (It's beautiful!), the big screen (It‘s also beautiful!) or FaceID (It‘s super comfortable, fast, reliable and made me forget TouchID.).  

My favorite feature is the new swipe gestures.

Have a look:

P.S. You have to activate Reachability in the settings. You find it under General / Accessibility. 

iPhone 8 Plus vs. Sony A7 Part II

With all the feedback I got after I published my comparison between the iPhone 8 Plus and the Sony A7 I had to do a follow-up. 

Since the first comparison was a spur-of-the-moment thing over lunch break, I put a little more thought into it this time. Now I used a focal length (55mm) similar to the portrait lens of the iPhone (56mm).

This time it's also easier to spot which is which. The iPhone shoots 4:3 and the Sony 3:2. Let's have a look.

I'm constantly amazed how good the new iPhone camera with portrait mode is in good lighting situations. Can't wait to try the iPhone X in more difficult lighting situations.

Recommended App: Yoink improves Drag & Drop on iPad

Whe Federico Viticci released his iOS 11: iPad Wishes and Concept Video I obviously liked the idea of Drag & Drop. It has been on my personal wishlist for years. What I never thought about and therefore didn‘t get in the video was the shelf. Who needs that?

Well, it turns out I do.

Sometimes an App doesn’t support Drag & Drop and when you try to drop something into it nothing happens. You then have to go back and find another way to get that thing into the app you want or find another app. Happens to me way more often than I would like.

Sometimes I know I want to do something with a photo later. But I’m not sure yet what exactly. When I finally do I have to find that photo again.

All these problems are solved by shelf apps. They work just like a Desktop or a clipboard on a PC. You can drag all kinds of stuff into them for later uses.

I started using Yoink (3 Dollars) by an Austrian developer whom I discovered by chance on Twitter after he had problems getting his app approved by Apple and wrote about it.

Now the app is finally in the Appstore and on my iPad. I use it daily.

It‘s so useful I'm convinced Apple is gonna release something similar in the near future as an integral part of the next big iOS update. Until then I’m perfectly happy with Yoink.

 

Experimenting with the iPhone 8 Plus, Portrait Mode, Bokeh and the Slor App

Two weeks ago I published a little comparison between the iPhone 8 Plus and my Sony A7. To say I was blown away by the reaction would be an understatement. Thousands of visitors wanted to see the pictures. 

One of the visitors was the Danish developer Tobias Due Munk. He got in contact and showed me his App Slor. Now it was my turn to be blown away. 

Slor lets you adjust bokeh and focus of shots taken with the portrait mode of an iPhone 7 Plus or iPhone 8 Plus. 

It‘s truly amazing to see how the iPhone records and saves depth information by playing and experimenting with the app. Obviously other companies like Samsung or Huawei have similar Foveon-like features built directly into their camera or gallery apps. But it's great to see Apple allow developpers this kind of access.

This little video shows how you can adjust focus and aperture: 

This video shows how you can adjust and fine-tune the bokeh: 

The App costs 3 Dollars and is highly recommended to everyone who loves portrait mode or wants to understand how it works and where it‘s limits lie. 

 
 

Two Shades of Red

No, I really didn't like the red dot on the digital crown in my initial review of the new cellular Apple Watch. Turns out I wasn't the only one. The watch magazine Hodinkee and the Apple intimus John Gruber didn't like it either.

But as it turns out not all red dots are the same. 

At the official unveiling of the new Apple Watch at the Steve Jobs Theatre, I didn't get the opportunity to compare the red dots of the aluminum version with the one of the steel version side by side. I had the impression that they might be different. One plastic, one ceramic? But I wasn't sure. 

Today I could compare the two thanks to a colleague at work. The comparison clearly confirmed my suspicion. The red dot on the steel model is far nicer than the one on the aluminum Apple Watch. 

While the one on the cheaper Apple Watch looks like matte plastic the one on the steel watch is shiny, a little bit darker, and overall far less of a deal breaker. 

In the end, I still don't get the red dot. But if I had to choose between an aluminum and a steel Apple Watch the dot would be another reason to get the more expensive model. 

Visiting the local livestock show with the iPhone 8 Plus

The local livestock show or as we call it in Switzerland Vächschau attracts lots of photo enthusiasts with big cameras. I love bringing my Sony A7 to events like this. But because it was raining and I was in an experimental mood I only brought the iPhone 8 Plus.

 
 

iPhone 8 Plus vs. Sony A7

A few years ago this would have been totally unfair.  

iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7

Can you spot the iPhone photos (Solution at the bottom of the page)? 

iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7

Update: I shot some more comparisons.  

 

iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7
iPhone 8 Plus vs Sony A7

Camera comparisons you might like

iPhone 8 Plus vs. Sony A7 Part II

I shot another comparison with a lens similar to the one of the iPhone. Have a look.

Low light: iPhone X vs. iPhone 8 Plus vs. Galaxy Note 8 vs. Mate 10

Every phone shoots good pictures in broad daylight. So I took the newest phones down to our cellar.

Portrait Mode: iPhone X vs. Galaxy Note 8 vs. Huawei Mate 10 vs. Sony A7

How good is the portrait mode on the best new smartphones compared to a full frame camera?


Solution: The pictures on the left and on top were taken with the portrait mode of the iPhone 8 Plus. 

Update: If you like to experiment with portrait mode and bokeh you might like this app I recently discovered.

Welcome!

It's about damn time! I've been meaning to do this for years. I just never found the time. Well, I still don't have the time but you have to start somewhere. Welcome to my website!

Some would call this a hobby. I call it an experiment. Don't expect too much. Especially no daily updates or news coverage. 

I see this as a public note pad and a way to experiment with long-form publishing and other exciting stuff.

As an extra challenge for me, I'll do it in English. My first language is Swiss German and as a journalist, I write in German. So please be patient with everything related to grammar and spelling. 

Enough for now. Let's go!