Portrait Modes Have Improved a Ton

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 2 min read

Here's a side-by-side comparison of a photo taken with my iPhone 13 Pro Max and then with my Canon EOS RP, including a few detail close ups:

Don't mind the color differences, I tried to make them similar, but I'm not an expert in matching colors between photos.

For some technical context:

  • The iPhone has a 78mm equivalent lens at 12MP. The photo is not cropped or edited.
  • The Canon has a 50mm lens at 26MP. I cropped in pretty significantly to match the framing (see below) as I took both photos from the same physical spot. The cropped photo is 12.7MP. Outside of color correction, this is straight out of the camera.

All that out of the way, I think there are a few things that stand out to me:

  1. The iPhone and Canon photos look so similar that without zooming in I had to double check to make sure I was identifying them correctly.
  2. The iPhone got the small area under the arm, which is traditionally a major challenge for smartphones. It's not perfect, but you only really notice when comparing it to the other photo.
  3. Without zooming in, the iPhone shot looks more detailed, which is due to the sharpening applied to the image which was not done on the Canon photo. When you zoom in, you can see a bit more detail in the Canon photo which could be applied in a photo editor to get a similar look. There are almost an identical number of pixels for each photo, so it's not a resolution advantage, it's just more accurate data on the much-larger sensor.

All that said, I think the iPhone did a really good job here and it's consistent with my general experience with portrait shots over the past year or two: they're just night and day better than they were a few short years ago, and I'm happy that more people get to create these images without needing to buy $1,000+ cameras.