Google and Apple Are Killing It With Photo Tech

When it comes to hardware phone makers are bored because there is not much left to improve. However, when it comes to the camera in your phone, Apple and Google still have a lot to do on the software side. On this front, the two companies are killing him absolutely.

Portrait mode is the best new photography feature since camera phones

If Portrait Mode was the only innovation that Apple and Google added to their phones, I would still be impressed. For those who have not seen it, this mode creates a shallow depth of field, focusing on the subject's face while adding a slight blur to the background. It isolates the subject and makes it stand out much more. It sounds like a simple thing, even boring until you see it in action. Once you've tried it, your selfies will never be the same again.

Apple and Google have different approaches to this feature, but they have the same effect. Apple iPhones use a dual lens camera to analyze your images from two slightly different angles and apply a false blur. Google's Pixel 2 has only one lens, instead using image recognition software to detect the subject on a photo, then scramble everything else. The disadvantage of this method is that it is mistaken sometimes, blurring part of the ear, or perhaps the tip of your hat. Apple's technology has a slight edge on this front, but both phones can immediately give your photos a stunning look.

Live photos capture pleasant moments before and after your photos

Your photos are not just pictures. These are moments. Freeze images in time from a memory that was at least important enough to warrant taking your camera out of your pocket and preserving it. Live Photos (or Motion Pictures, as Google calls them) take a small video that covers the second or two before taking a photo a second or two later. You can see the picture by itself, or you can press a button to see this little video.

That does not seem so interesting in itself until you see the little moments you miss. For example, the image above was taken at a wedding of friends. My girlfriend wanted to take a nice picture because the evening slowly drifted towards dusk. I wanted to touch her buttocks. Motion Photos let us divide the difference. The full size photo is beautiful, romantic and quaint, but seeing the few seconds around this one picture tells a very different story from that moment.

Slow motion video is finally available to all

Do you know those YouTube videos where record ridiculous things with an incredibly expensive slow motion camera? Well, now you can do the same thing with your cat. The phones of Google and Apple are capable of shooting in slow motion up to 240 frames per second. Sometimes the image quality drops a little because the phone has to capture twice or even four times the number of frames per second with the same material, but you can capture entirely new moments like your kids play sports or antics.

Now, this is not going to be quite the same quality as the professional videos that you usually see online. These cameras are capable of 1000fps, or even 10,000fps for really fast things like a ball. Comparatively, 240fps is not as slow. So, if you are recording a hummingbird, you may not be able to see a single wing flapping, but you will still be able to have a very good overview of the bird passing in front of your bird feeder .

Oh yeah, you have a 4K camcorder now

This year, it was finally starting to be a good time for buying a 4K TV . However, the phone you got two years ago could already record videos in 4K. Starting from the iPhone 6S / 6S Plus / SE and the Nexus 5X / 6P, Google phones and Apple phones contain 4K video cameras. This is a big problem though, no doubt, especially if you do not have a 4K TV.

For starters, when you reduce 4K video to normal HD (or 1080p), the video looks generally better . All these extra pixels also give much more image stabilization functions to work on, so you can stabilize your shaky phone sequences. You can even capture unique images from a 4K video, which are roughly the equivalent of an 8 megapixel photo. This will not make a huge picture by any effort, and taking a picture properly will almost always be better. However, if you want to make a photo album from the images in your video, you have all the pixels you need to do it.

Phone cameras are becoming so powerful that we no longer have to judge them in megapixel numbers or sensor quality. Of course, the extra megapixels are excellent, but the real magic lies in all the little features that Apple and Google continue to add, features that make it easy to take great pictures and make fantastic videos.

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