Apple’s iPhone 8 Portrait Lighting lets mobile photographers mimic studio effects

Apple has a new feature for its iPhone 8 camera called “Portrait Lighting” that works in addition to its existing Portrait Mode. The feature uses machine learning to analyze in real time the images taken with the camera, letting you change the lighting effects either in preview, or after you’ve taken the photo using the Photos app.

This is another step Apple has taken to make advanced photography effects available on the camera you have with you everywhere. Portrait Mode last year allowed for users to create a sense of depth of field with a simulated bokeh effect, which blurs the background, and the new mode goes further — allowing lighting tweaks that would ordinarily not be possible either outside of a studio setting or with expensive pro lights.

Apple stresses that this isn’t the application of a filter after the fact; it’s analysis of the scene and automatically making adjustments to actual image information like exposure and highlights in different areas to result in the dynamic lighting effects.

They ran through a demo that showed the ability to do things like contour lighting, highlight facial features or mono stage lighting, isolating a face in grayscale and letting everything else fade to black.

It’s a super cool effect, which uses the iPhone 8 Plus’ dual camera to work, and will probably result in a much nicer Instagram feed for just about everyone once the phone is out and widely available.