What’s New for Camera and Video on Apple’s iPhone 7 and 7 Plus?

Are you still on the fence about Apple’s latest iPhone? If so, the camera upgrades on the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus could be the thing that sells you on it. Here’s a quick rundown of the new camera and filming capabilities on the new iPhone 7.

What’s New and Improved for the Camera?

As compared to the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, the just-released iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have:

  • A larger aperture (f/1.8 compared to f/2/2 of the 6S series), which allows the camera to function better in low-light conditions.
  • An improved image/signal processor that identifies faces, bodies and other subjects in order to speed up focusing time, along with other technical adjustments like white balance, tone mapping, and noise reduction.
  • An improved Quad-LED True Tone flash that some claim is up to 50% brighter,
  • Optical image stabilization to balance out shaky hands shooting stills and video


What about the Dual Cameras?

The function that’s stirring up the most commentary is the new, dual camera on the iPhone 7 Plus. It has the 28-mm, wide-angle lens you’re accustomed to on an iPhone, albeit upgraded with a larger aperture (f/1.8) than years past (f/2.2). And this year, Apple adds a 56-mm telephoto lens (f/2.8). Both shoot at 12 MP.

The dual camera system has photographers celebrating two specific qualities.

Depth of field: Though at this writing, it’s technically still in beta, the Portrait option on the Camera app can emulate the bokeh effect in still photos. Bokeh is achieved when the subject is in clear focus, and the background is blurred or artistically out of focus. On DSLRs, it’s achieved by manipulating the depth of field. On the new iPhone 7 Plus, shots by each of the two lenses are “married” to achieve something similar.

Optical Zoom: Apple finally added an optical zoom instead of the digital zoom that we all try not to use. Though “telephoto” is a bit of a technical misnomer, the new, second lens does have a 2x optical zoom. Since 2x isn’t going to buy you a lot of zoom, there’s an additional 10x digital zoom available if you really need it. The good news is that with the initial boosting power of the 2x optical zoom, any ensuing digital zoom will already be at a higher quality than if you’d begun exclusively with digital.

What Does it All Mean for Videos?

Overview: The bigger aperture for low light conditions, the enhanced stabilization and the optical zoom (on 7 Plus only) will all benefit your video shoots. When compared to the 6S and 6S Plus, the other technical video capacities of the new iPhones remain unchanged. So the 4K, 1080p HD, and 720p HD video recording specs are all the same. An excellent camera, especially for a phone, has only been improved.

There are a few points to keep in mind when utilizing the new zoom feature (7 Plus) in video mode.

Fun fact: The optical zoom can be used while shooting in (regular) video mode, Slo-Mo, and Time Lapse.

Quality: The 2x optical zoom works with video, though the additional digital zoom is limited to 6x, and the quality will deteriorate quickly as you swipe in closer.

Timing and cinematography: The 2x optical zoom is achieved by the touch of a button, while the digital zoom is achieved by sliding your finger across the screen. This creates two effects to be aware of while zooming in video mode.

  • Since the optical zoom is instant after clicking the touchscreen button, the perceived “jump” is jarring to the viewer. Unless you’re aiming for an artistic statement, you may opt not to zoom mid-action.
  • The camera automatically adjusts the aperture based on the light sources from the initial focal point to the zoomed focal point. Since this is video mode, the viewer sees the changing light. It’s easier to manage this in a studio setting with one light source, but it’s something to be aware of when shooting outside and/or with multiple light sources.

As always, have fun filming and let ProEditors turn your raw footage into your own personal works of genius.