Apple just introduced the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. The latter will ship with a long-rumoured dual camera — the first of its kind on an iPhone.
There are a number of reasons to get excited about this new iPhone camera: Specs in line with the top-of-its-class Samsung Galaxy camera, the ability to generate attractive bokeh for image backgrounds, and even the ability for tech-savvy photographers to shoot raw DNG images. (I explore all that in this article.) But nothing on that list is so innovative that we have never seen it on an Android.
The one truly new, innovative feature on the iPhone 7 Plus? Its zoomed-in telephoto lens.
I’m thrilled about this unexpected development.
As I’ve written before, the biggest problem with smartphone cameras right now is that they’re all boring, wide-angle shooters. If you have only one lens to carry with you everywhere, a wide angle is the way to go. It’s good for group shots, landscapes, and close-up action.
But wide-angle lenses have some major limitations. They have odd, cartoonish perspectives that tend to exaggerate people’s features. The result? Unflattering smartphone portraits.
So far, the few dual-lens smartphone cameras to hit the market have missed the opportunity to include a longer, portrait-friendly lens. Apple’s telephoto is the first we’ve seen. Apple has said it’s twice as zoomed in as the existing lens — I’m guessing that means about the equivalent focal length of a 50 mm lens from a DSLR, which is a perfectly respectable portrait length.
The obvious benefit of a telephoto lens is taking better photos of farther-away things. But expect people to realise it makes their faces much more appealing on Instagram (or Snapchat or wherever you post) as well.