Apple iPhone 8 Plus Camera Review

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Camera Review  - We put the Apple iPhone 8 Plus through its paces to see how good the dual and selfie cameras perform.

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Apple iPhone 8 Plus in Camera Phones



1/60 sec | f/2.8 | 35.0 mm | ISO 400

 

The Apple iPhone 8 Plus was released at the same time as the £1000 iPhone X and as well as sharing an announcement date, the two smartphones also share quite a few features. But, as the iPhone 8 Plus is almost a £200 cheaper than the iPhone X there has to be a compromise somewhere so we're putting it to the test to find out what the differences are and to check if the iPhone 8 Plus is a tool that photographers can rely on. 

 

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Features

As we're a website for photography fans, let's start by looking at the iPhone 8 Plus' cameras. The iPhone 8 Plus' rear camera is the same 12MP camera you find on the iPhone X and it also features the same two lenses: wide-angle (28mm equivalent) and telephoto (56mm equivalent). Optical image stabilisation is built in but it's not Dual, as you find on the iPhone X, and the telephoto lens isn't quite as bright, offering a maximum aperture of f/2.8 when it's f/2.4 on the iPhone X. Even though it's not quite as bright, low light performance should still be better than past iPhones could offer.

As well as the large sensor which Apple says has been re-engineered, there's a new image signal processor built in to improve the quality of colours and textures in images. There's also a new A11 processor, a glass back design which allows for wireless charging and the same portrait lighting modes found on the iPhone X (currently in BETA). WIth Portrait Mode, you can create 'bokeh' in the background of your portraits, adjust the lighting of the scene or 'cut' your subjects out so they appear on a black background. 

 

1/25 sec | f/4.0 | 20.0 mm | ISO 800
 

The front 'selfie' camera on the iPhone 8 Plus as 7-megapixels as well as an aperture of f/2.2, retina flash and it can be used to capture video in 1080p HD. Unlike the iPhone X, Portrait Mode and the Lighting effects can't be used with the front camera on the iPhone 8 Plus as it doesn't offer the 'TrueDepth' feature the X does. It doesn't have Face Recognition either so you can't smile to unlock your phone. Instead, it's touch ID enabled so you use your fingerprint to gain access. 

Other modes found in the very basic camera app include panorama, slo-mo and square aspect ratio. There are also 9 digital filters built in so you can add effects to your shots and these can be applied live.

As smartphones don't have viewfinders, you need a decent screen for setting up shots and viewing images and the iPhone 8 Plus features a 5.5" retina HD screen which is bigger than the 8 (4.7'') but slightly smaller than the X which features a 5.8'' HD retina display. The bezel isn't as small as that found on the X but it's not massive in any way and the phone is water as well as dust resistant. 

Those who capture video can now do so in 4K up to 60fps and optical image stabilisation can be used to keep footage steady. The optical zoom is also useable when shooting video, as is the digital zoom but this is best avoided. Slo-mo video support for 1080p at 120 fps or 240 fps and stabilisation can also be used when capturing time-lapse footage. 

As with previous iPhone models, there's no headphone socket but this shouldn’t present much of an issue for most photographers, unless they are using accessories which require the headphone jack, as an adaptor is provided in the box to allow you to attach any headphones/accessories as you choose.

Iphone 8 Plus (1)

The iPhone 8 Plus is available in space grey, rose gold or silver, features a glass back and front and comes in 256GB or 64GB options. The iPhone 8 Plus is available now for £799. The iPhone 8 is also available for £699 which is slightly smaller in size and it doesn't feature the dual rear cameras. 

 

Key Features

  • 12mp rear camera sensors
  • Wide-angle f/1.8 lens, with OIS
  • Telephoto f/2.8 lens, with OIS
  • 7mp selfie camera with f/2.2 aperture
  • Quad LED True Tone Flash with slow-sync
  • Portrait lighting effects
  • 4K video at 60fps
  • FullHD slow motion at 240fps
  • 5.5-inch widescreen LCD
  • A11 processor, iOS 11
  • Wireless charging
  • Water and dust resistance

 

Apple iPhone 8 Plus Handling

1/20 sec | f/4.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 800
 

The iPhone 8 Plus is very similar in design to the iPhone 7 Plus with its rounded corners, similar bezel and familiar shape in the hand. It is a pretty large phone but with phablets now common, it probably won't seem overly large to most. Of course, a big phone does mean you get a big screen which is great for viewing photos on and while we're talking about the screen, it's worth mentioning that it's clear and sharp. Colours are also very well rendered and the brightness can also be adjusted so the screen is easy to view outdoors and viewing angles are also good. 

Due to the phone size, some may struggle to operate the phone one-handed but we had no problems navigating the iPhone 8 Plus one-handed but we do recommend using two hands when taking photos just for added stability.

Apple products always look the business and the iPhone 8 Plus is no different with its sleek glass design and solid build. It's quite a weighty phone but in a reassuring 'I'm built really well' way not an 'I'm going to weigh you down' annoying kind of way. If you do want to talk actual CMs and grams, the 8 Plus is heavier than the 8 and X (202g, 148g and 174g, respectively) and it it's bigger than both, too.

The front and back glass design is nice but it does make it more prone to cracks if dropped so a case is recommended. It will also stop fingermarks appearing all over the glass back which can be really annoying. 

Buttons seem to be something phone designers avoid nowadays but unlike the iPhone X, you do still have a home button. However, it's not 'real', it just mimics the feel of a real button and uses touch to activate it rather than a press. There's also a phone lock on the right side and volume controls to the left side of the phone which can also be used to capture an image. 

You don’t actually need to press any buttons if the phone is locked to capture an image as if the display is on, you just need to swipe right to left to be taken to the camera app. As well as taking photos, you wil also be able to preview the images you've captured but not the images you've taken previously. To preview these, you need to unlock the phone and open 'Photos'. 

 

1/30 sec | f/4.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 800
 

The phone unlocks really quickly with fingerprint recognition and the camera app can be loaded just as fast. If you don't want to use your fingerprint to unlock the phone you can input a code instead. When using the camera app, focusing is also very quick in good light, as well as the shutter response.


 

 

As mentioned already, the basic camera app built into iPhone smartphones is very basic and it really doesn't offer anything for photographers to go 'wow' at. 

To access the limited camera functions you swipe left or right and there's a digital shutter button you press to capture a photo (you can also use the volume keys found on the side to capture an image). To use the 'selfie' camera, you press the camera icon that has arrows inside it. Towards the top are options for adjusting the flash, shooting live photos (photos which move), setting the self-timer and for adding filters. You can also hold down the virtual button to take a burst of images at roughly 10 frames per second.

The default photo mode is probably the option you'll use most of the time but there are options for capturing square, portrait and panorama images. Plus, there are time-lapse and slo-mo options as well as the basic video mode. There isn't an HDR icon anymore as the iPhone 8 Plus captures HDR images by default but you can switch this off in the main setting menu. 

To switch between the telephoto and wide-angle lens you just need to tap the small icon that sits towards the bottom of the camera app's screen. When it says '1x' you're using the wide-angle lens while '2x' is the telephoto. A 10x digital zoom is built in but as you'd expect, it's generally best avoided as it's terrible. As you can see from the below image, it just turns images into oil paintings with smudgy lines and no detail.

 

The Digital Zoom is very poor
The Digital Zoom is very poor

 

Under the 'Portrait' option, you'll find various portrait lighting modes (some of which are under BETA still) which use both rear camera lenses to create a “depth map” or, in other words, fake bokeh. 

It's a nice feature that works well in most situations  but it does have some limitations: not close enough to your subject and you get a warning message, too dark and you'll get the “more light required” warning but if you manage to get both scenarios right (which most of the time you will), you will see the background fall nicely out of focus live which is cool. There are a few more portrait modes but we'll discuss these in our performance section of the review. 

That's pretty much it for the incredibly basic camera app. If you do want to access more advanced functions such as the ability to shoot in RAW, shutter speeds, ISO, white balance etc, you have to use a third-party app to do so. There are some really good free apps out there but they're not as convenient to access as the native camera app is which can be simply opened from the home screen with a swipe. These advanced features are also something many of Apple's competitors are now offering as standard (the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is bursting with them) in their own native camera apps so it's slightly annoying Apple hasn't built them in yet. 

Even though the camera app is very basic, it's really easy to use with reasonably obvious options and operation. In fact, the whole phone is easy to navigate, quick in response and simple to use. Even Android users shouldn't find it too hard to get to grips with. 

Iphone 8 Plus (3)
 

We ran a number of benchmarks to see how the Apple iPhone 8 Plus compared to some other premium smartphones:

AnTuTu: 217,385
Geekbench: 4216 (single core), 10185 (multicore) 

Both scores are impressive and in fact, the Geekbench benchmark scores are better than the iPhone X! The iPhone 8 Plus also beats the Huawei Mate 10 Pro as well as the Samsung Galaxy S8.

 

Battery life - The built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery will last for about the same amount of time as the iPhone 7 Plus. We’ve been able to get at least a full day’s worth of charge when using the phone - however, we have only been using it as a camera, rather than using other applications which will drain the battery much more quickly. The battery is also non-removable so you will need to use an external charger if you run out of power on the move so consider purchasing a portable battery charger if you want to ensure the phone lasts all day and you won’t have access to a wall charger.



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Comments


13 Mar 2018 11:47AM
iPhones still have heavy handed processing with detail looking like a water color painting if one looks closer, their jpeg output is not top tier, wish they (Apple) would dial back the processing as Samsung have done over the last 2 or 3 years. Until then the tiny pixels (1.12 micron) vs the Pixel (1.55 micron) and the way better Google processing will continue to divide the IQ quite easily.

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