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Is the new iPhone a Photoshop users best phone camera?

  • Published on September 8, 2016
Is the new iPhone a Photoshop users best phone camera?

When Apple announced the iPhone 7 yesterday, they made a great effort to promote its photo capabilities. Cutting through the exaggeration and marketing speak that is expected with any product launch, there are several improvements that creative professionals, photographers, and Photoshop users are likely to appreciate.

iPhone 7’s Dual Cameras

The iPhone 7 plus includes two cameras, both capture images at 12-megapixels. While they both capture the same amount of data, they are different lenses. One is designed to capture items further in the distance, as it is a 56mm f2.8 lens. While Apple is labeling this as a telephoto lens, it is more like an intermediate lens, perfect for things like capturing a portrait photograph, as it won’t create distortion that occurs on wide-angle lenses. It is twice the magnification of the second lens, which is a more traditional smartphone camera with a lens at 28mm f1.8. With two camera lenses, the iPhone can use either camera or both to capture an image.

iPhone 7 HDR: High Dynamic Range

Photoshop users that capture multiple exposures and merge them together are likely already familiar with High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography. Apple is bringing HDR to the masses, enabling users to capture better images in situations with varied lighting, such as a sunny image that also includes areas with dark shadows. The HDR enables two separate pictures to be captured and blended together so that all items are visible, not just those in the light. Similarly, with HDR the shadow details can be captured without blowing-out the lighter areas. You can learn more about HDR in the various photography courses offered at AGI.

iPhone 7 and Camera RAW for Photoshop Users

The iPhone 7 includes RAW image support, which more advanced Photoshop users will appreciate. To better understand this functionality, it’s useful to look at the way in which all images were captured, stored, and imported into Photoshop from previous versions of the iPhone. Images from the iPhone were always compressed using the standard JPEG format. Part of this compression involves processing and discarding data in order to reduce the size of the file. As phone camera lenses are pretty small, users didn’t always expect much detail from them, and the compression certainly didn’t help with this. Additionally, the image compression can discard some tonal variation – effectively the variety of colors, and some blotches may appear in a compressed image, which are generally labeled as artifacts. The Camera RAW support in the iPhone 7 avoids JPEG compression of both quality and color, and takes the straight image data from the sensors. This RAW data can then be imported into Photoshop or another image editing application using the standard DNG file format. This provides for more refined manual control over the image, as the DNG file can be post-processed by the user, not an algorithm. Working with Camera RAW images is covered in most advanced Photoshop classes. While JPEG is likely going to continue as the default method for capturing and storing images on mobile phones, Photoshop users and photo enthusiasts are likely to cheer the widespread availability of Camera RAW on the iPhone 7.

Photoshop for iPhone

Adobe already had Photoshop on the iPhone with their Photoshop Lightroom app. The new Camera RAW support is being included into the iPhone Photoshop Lightroom version, which makes it comparable to the Android version of the app where this functionality was already available.


About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, XD, and Balsamiq. She also works extensively in the fields of presentation design and visual design.