Studio Lighting on the iPhone 8 Plus is really something else

One of the coolest new features of the latest iPhone (Plus model only) is that we now have “studio lighting” options in portrait mode. These include 4 different types of lighting you can have simulate over a subject’s face1. Apple touted this as one of their examples of using machine learning to create the effect, and I have to give them credit, this feature is very cool.

Below are examples of all 5 lighting options (4 special ones + the standard shot), and I think this example shows the differences in options quite well. The one and only problem with these shots is that the depth sensor just missed the AirPod in my left ear, so the effects don’t really touch that. You can really tell on the stage light examples at the bottom.

Regular Portrait (no studio lighting)

This is the same type of lighting that you already knew and loved in portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus. AKA no lighting effects.

Studio Lighting

Studio lighting will place a light directly on your face. It really makes me look a little paler than I am, but the effect could be helpful for some shots, especially where you want to make the person’s face “pop” a little more without just cranking up the brightness on the image.

Contour Lighting

This is a little more dramatic, as it adds a more overhead light that appears to be pointed down on me. I think this is my favorite, as it enhances contrast and adds some drama to the shot. This is so cool!

Stage Lighting

Now we’re getting to the most dramatic lighting, and stage lighting cuts out the entire background and leaves only me. This is using the same contour lighting as the previous image, and dropping the background entirely makes this look even cooler. This may or may not be your style, but you can’t deny the effect is striking.

Stage Mono

We finally have stage mono lighting, which will do the same thing as regular stage lighting, but it will also turn the image black and white.


  1. This can work with non-faces too, but don’t expect great results. This is built to work on faces only.