Apple iPhone 7 Plus – Camera Review – Part 1

So how good is the camera on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus? Is it worth upgrading just for the camera on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus? What’s my view versus the Samsung Galaxy S7/S7 Edge and Note 7? Read on for all the answers …

Firstly, let’s take a look at the photos I have snapped with the iPhone 7 Plus in a multitude of conditions. As before, if you want to view the original photo, click on it, select original or full size.

Low Light Conditions

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

Around Princetown at Night - Low Light Photography from the Apple iPhone 7 Plus

So the above 3 photos are a selection of photos testing the low light capabilities. The second shot uses the telephoto lens. Shortly after snapping the above church shots, darkness really started to set in. At this point, when I selected the 2x zoom for the telephoto lens, the iPhone actually decided to override my choice and used the wide angle lens. It did this as it knew the f/1.8 of the wide angle lens would produce a better result, even though it was using digital zoom. The results from the digitally zoomed photos were still excellent. At the end of the article is a link to the flickr album set where you can view more photos from all of the scenes shown.

Just to up the ante, I used a third party app, nightcap pro that allows awesome night shots, light trails, stars, meteors and more. This is the beauty of iOS with the wide selection of third party camera apps on offer that push the boundaries of what is possible with the camera. There are some exciting options in development too which I am testing.

The low light photos from the iPhone 7 Plus are excellent. When I tried this test with the Samsung S7, the white balance was all over the place. The S7/S7E/Note 7 can produce sharper shots in low light compared to the iPhone 7 and with less noise, but I actually prefer the iPhone photos as they are better balanced overall.

Daylight Conditions

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

The photos above are shot into the sun as is the photo below. The two photos above show the results with the wide angle lens and then the telephoto lens. The 2 x optical zoom on the telephoto lens makes a huge difference and I love the option to use this lens as the quality is so much better than using digital zoom.

Okehampton Castle ruins #iphone7plus

One of my favourite type of shots is shooting into the sun, with the sun caught between the tree branches. I was pleased with the result here.

All Saints Church #Okehampton #iphone7plus

Above is another great shot from the iPhone. Nicely balanced but based on my time with the S7/S7E/Note 7 I do think the dynamic range from these Samsung phones is better. However, the final post processed from the iPhone appears in my mind to be more realistic and natural. The Samsung post processing goes for a heavier saturated and contrasted shot.

Flowers & Close Up

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

The above shot is just using the normal wide angle mode. The new portrait mode is in beta, so I won’t be testing this until it is out of beta. However, from results shown over the internet from other people, used correctly, the portrait mode is fantastic and makes the 7 Plus even more compelling.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Now just be switching the the telephoto lens, the berries become even more appetising.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

The above shots are with the wide and then the telephoto lens. Again you can see the difference the telephoto lens makes to getting closer to the flower.

Flowers & Fruit #iphone7plus using the wide and telephoto lenses

Above, another shot with the telephoto lens.

Action Shots

In the 3 shots below of my labradors, it is worth noting the weather conditions were not the best for this type of action shot. The UK weather at the moment is dreadful. After taking these photos, Dartmoor had 33.4mm of rain in 4 hours. So not only was it overcast when snapping these, there was also a light mist too.

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

What you will see from the above 3 photos, which have all been marginally cropped to a 16:9 format, are some good photos considering the weather conditions. The iPhone 7 Plus was able to capture my dogs running extremely fast.

Happy dogs playing on Dartmoor- George , Fury and Tiggy in hot pursuit #iphone7plus

The above shot if you look closely has spots of mud on the photo. This was caused my Fury (black labrador) running so fast through the mud, that she was kicking it up as she went along πŸ™‚

So how do these action photos compare to the Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7? Well the Samsung phones have a slightly faster focus system, meaning more of the action sequences would have been snapped in focus. The Samsung faster focus system has benefits across all types of shooting photos as well. However, once again I prefer the post processing from the iPhone 7 Plus. It did a better job distinguishing my dogs and their 3 different colours, light, brown and black. Same story as all the other shots really, I prefer the post processing from Apple. But like everything in life, there are pros and cons with each choice of phone.

Shooting in RAW

I took several shots in RAW using ProCam 4 and Adobe Lightroom for iOS. Editing on the iPhone 7 Plus using snapseed and Lightroom showed how much more data the iPhone 7 Plus captured using RAW. For a special show I would always take on in RAW as well as using the standard camera app. There are 3 samples shots from RAW in my Flickr Album. Link at the bottom of the article.

Final Verdict

The Apple iPhone 7 Plus camera is a marked improvement from the iPhone 6 Plus. The 2 x optical zoom of the telephoto lens opens up many more options to photography without the need of carrying add on lenses. The new portrait mode is another benefit. Third party developers are already looking to add their software prowess to stretch the boundaries even further.

The telephoto lens is usable is all shooting modes too ie video, time lapse, panorama and more.

Compared to the Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7 it boils down to 2 key differences. Maybe 3. First is the fast focusing system from Samsung is faster than the iPhone 7 Plus. This will produce benefits in certain scenarios. The Samsung phones post processing leans more to a heavier saturated and contrasted shot. In certain scenarios these will make photos pop on the screen to stand out even more. However, so far I am preferring the more natural, realistic post processing coming out of the iPhone 7 Plus. This is a personal opinion/choice. Should you move from a Samsung S7/S7E/Note 7 to the iPhone 7 Plus? Personally, you really need to get a grip if you are even thinking about this! A phone is not just about the camera, it is about everything else. The phones are different, each has pros and cons. When it comes to very low light/night shots the Samsung phones have the slight edge using the default camera app. However, switch to a number of impressive iOS third party apps, and the advantage switches to iOS. Once again pros and cons.

Overall, I am very pleased with the camera results on the iPhone 7 Plus. Add this to everything else on offer and its a compelling device.

Part 2 will focus of video and will be live in due course.

Useful Links
My Apple iPhone 7 Plus Flickr Album
Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Cases on Amazon
Apple iPhone 7 / 7 Plus Screen Protectors on Amazon

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2 thoughts on “Apple iPhone 7 Plus – Camera Review – Part 1

  1. Hi Gavin….fantastic article and photos as always. I am glad Apple has at least updated the camera enough to be in legitimate comparison with the Galaxy / Note 7’s. With the iPhone 6splus I felt it was a significant camera quality compromise to stick to with IOS. While the Galaxy 7 series still may be better, at least now the compromise seems MUCH less. Loving the iPhone 7Plus so far! Thanks Gavin!

    Liked by 1 person

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