iPhone 7 Plus: Are two cameras really better than one?

iPhone 7 Plus: Are two cameras really better than one?

KEY FEATURES AT A GLANCE

12MP camera

12MP wide-angle and telephoto cameras (iPhone 7 Plus) Optical Image Stabilisation

7MP FaceTime HD camera

New Home button

Water and dust resistant

Stereo speakers

A10 Fusion chip

LTE Advanced up to 450 Mbps

Longest battery life ever in an iPhone

 

THE technology behind every shot taken on Apple's new iPhone cameras is mind boggling.

A single photo can involve a staggering 100 billion operations (yes, billion) in as little as 25 milliseconds.

Tone mapping, white balance, facial recognition, body detection, smile detection, the list goes on to capture the moment that makes a great photo.

The 12-megapixel camera on both iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus includes optical image stabilisation, a larger ƒ/1.8 aperture (to take in more light) and six-element lens enabling brighter, more detailed photos and videos.

Of course, the thing that sets the larger iPhone 7 Plus apart is a second 12 megapixel telephoto camera which offers two times optical zoom and up to 10 times digital zoom for photos and up to six times for video.

So how good is it?

Cruising past the Sydney Opera House, on a ferry, you can see the immediate benefits of even a smaller zoom.

The Sydney Opera House, taken with an iPhone 7 Plus.
The Sydney Opera House, taken with an iPhone 7 Plus.

At two times, the image of the iconic Australian landmark is far more impressive. At 10 times, the detail, and sharpness of the image is remarkable.

But that's in full sunlight and with the Opera House at a reasonable distance.

The Sydney Opera House comes up a treat with a little optical zoom on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.
The Sydney Opera House comes up a treat with a little optical zoom on the Apple iPhone 7 Plus.

Try to zoom in on a pelican, in fading light, at a great distance away, and you are likely to get a grainy shot, especially if you are trying to hold your camera still on a windy day.

Apple can't conquer basic photography physics. For super low-light shots you still need to use a tripod - or better still a DSLR which has a lens which can take in far more light.

But most budding phone photographers will be more than impressed with the new iPhones - and for many - it's probably just another reason why you might not need that Nikon or Canon after all.

What is particularly noticeable on both new phones is the range of colours you can capture and display. Shades of orange, for example, look amazing.

The low-light capabilities on the iPhone 7 are definitely improved, but I'm not sure they are as good as the Samsung Galaxy S7, which is exceptional in this area.

When it comes to speed, Sony's Xperia is faster while the 23 megapixel format obviously offers greater detail.

But Apple's zoom - and its new portrait feature, which will offer true DSLR capabilities, set it apart for smartphone photography.

A preview of the depth of field or bokeh effect shows portrait subjects literally 'popping' out of blurred backgrounds.

Apple says it will release the new feature later this year after it is perfected. That process involves sophisticated 'machine learning' technology where the iPhone is best figuring out what is the subject of the portrait and what is the background.

The iPhone 7 cameras also feature new 7 megapixel FaceTime HD camera which also includes image stabilisation for better selfies, while the true tone flash is 50 percent brighter than that on the iPhone 6s.

One of the best features of the new iOS10 in the photo department is memories which pulls together your best photos and video into a musical montage in a matter of moments.

Of course, if you are taking all these photos and video you will need a phone with better battery and storage capacity - something the iPhone 7 certainly offers.

The processor is also considerably improved, the phone now features stereo speakers which sound awesome in games, is water and dust resistant, while the new black finishes look and feel amazing.

So is this Apple's best iPhone? Without a doubt. Best smartphone on the market?  Arguably.

AirPods are pretty impressive at first glance

APPLE says its new AirPods will 'forever change the way you use headphones'.

While we only got the briefest introduction, we can see what they are saying.

They are super clever technology which combine optical sensors and a motion accelerator to detect when they're in your ears.

Put them in and the music starts. Take one out to talk to someone and the music pauses. It resumes when you put it back in.

Whenever they are out of the charging case they turn on and connect to your iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad or Mac. When you are talking, the beam-forming microphones filter out background noise and focus on the sound of your voice.

Powered by their own Apple W1 chip, they also feature Siri functionality which allow you to double tap to change the volume, change songs, make a call or get directions.

The AirPods, which will go on sale in late October for $229, offer five hours of listening time on one charge, while the case provides more than 24 hours. It takes just 15 minutes of charge to give you three hours' charge.

And of course if you want to check your battery level, just ask Siri.