When you study photography or any career in the field, the first thing you learn is the importance of lighting . Light is the most important element in a photograph, no matter what camera you use or what tools you have, if you don’t have good lighting, you don’t get decent results. That’s why, for photography lovers, the most important feature of the last keynote was Portrait Lighting.
Portratit Lighting tries to emulate studio lighting with the camera of the new iPhone, and above all, with the software of the new iPhone. The new feature is based on the Portrait Mode that came with the double camera of the iPhone 7 Plus, and allows us to imitate professional photos by playing with the light of each image we take.
The ISP filter and artificial intelligence
To understand how Portrait Lighting works we must first understand ISP, Image Signal Processor, an internal chip that some digital cameras have to process and enhance photographs by increasing speed and efficiency. The camera new iPhone contains a new color filter , Apple does not specify which, but surely it is a Bayer filter, this allows the camera to capture light more clearly and filter it by RGB to understand what percentage of red, green or blue each part of the image. With this information, the ISP chip processes the image to reduce noise and increase the sharpness of the images.
In the second part of the process of taking a photograph, artificial intelligence comes into play. The A11 Bionic chip processes the data sent by ISP and determines what is background and what is the object of the image. Something similar to what the Portrait mode does but focusing more on the light than on the distance of each object. Once you have this separated, you map the face to determine the depth of the face and know where to apply more or less light. The result? A sharper image because it applies shadows where technically they should be if we were using studio lights and reflectors.
The iPhone software allows you to apply five different lighting styles :
- Natural Light: The lighting changes virtually no, it is like an image taken in Portrait Mode.
- Studio Light: More brightness is applied to the photographed face.
- Contour Light: This is probably the best style of all, because this is where shadows are applied to facial contours and cavities to simulate strong and weak lights.
- Stage Light: Applies a similar style to Contour Light but also darkens the background of the image so that we focus exclusively on the person’s face without background distractions.
- Mono: Same effect as Stage Light but monochromatic (black and white).
What devices support Portrait Lighting?
As I mentioned before, makes use of a lot of software processing and artificial intelligence. That’s why Apple has confirmed Portrait Lighting for the new iPhones for the time being, as they are the ones with the A11 Bionic chip.
- iPhone 8: Does not have Portrait Lighting as two cameras are required.
- iPhone 8 Plus: It has Portrait Lighting on the back camera.
- iPhone 7 Plus: It is not yet known if it will have Portrait Lighting or not, it has the double camera but perhaps not enough power as it does not have the A11 Bionic chip.
iPhone X: Portrait Lighting is available on the rear camera and on the front camera as well, thanks to the Face ID sensor that detects depth.
As a detail, Portrait Lighting is a feature that will first be released in beta version , just like Portrait Mode did, in the next updates it will be a definitive version.