More than a filter: How to use iPhone Photo Styles

The iPhone 13 launch event saw the Photographic Styles feature highlighted by Apple as an important new feature in their latest smartphones. But many have wondered how different this is from the hugely popular filters. Understanding how photography styles differ and how to take advantage of this new iPhone feature is the goal of this tutorial.

At first glance, Photographic Brushes apply the same hue, temperature, and saturation changes as traditional filters. But just like Cinematic Mode, the feature takes advantage of iPhone hardware to deliver a different result compared to existing methods.

How iPhone 13 Photography Styles Work

Photographic styles take advantage of the Apple A15 SoC’s ISP (image signal processor) as it selectively applies effects to the image, unlike filters, which modify the entire image. While filters work in a similar way to analog photography (where negatives, photo prints, the filters themselves, and other factors influence the end result), Photographic Styles offer another step up in computer photography. .

This feature takes advantage of the ability of modern image processors to identify different elements in a scene – people, objects in different planes, sky, etc., and then apply different effects to each of them, such as what a photographer or image editor would do in the post-processing stage.

Photographic Styles apply effects separately to each element of the scene / © Apple

One of the benefits of this technique is that it has the power to maintain natural skin characteristics, for example, while increasing color saturation on objects around the person(s) in the foreground.

Photographic Styles are available in four preset options: Rich contrast, Vibrant, Hot, and Cold, which can be customized in terms of hue and color temperature. For comparison, the iPhone’s Standard mode is touted as “balanced and realistic”.

iPhones compatible with Photo Styles

Although Apple claims the feature is enabled by the A15 Bionic processor, the manufacturer did not mention Photographic Styles’ compatibility with the iPad Mini (2021), which is also equipped with the A15 Bionic SoC, although it only has one camera on the back. So, here are the iPhone models compatible with the latest feature:

How to use Photo Styles

New to the iPhone 13 range can be accessed through the iOS camera app itself, by pressing the ^ (at the top of the screen) and followed by the function icon (with three parallel images). Alternatively, you can access the function in Settings > Camera > Photographic Graphic Styles.

Once activated, simply swipe the screen sideways to preview the effect in real time. Just below the available effects, you can customize the Your and Heat, adapting them to the scene accordingly. To reset the styles to default settings, just tap the circle icon that’s next to the settings (just above the button to switch between cameras).

Here are some examples of displaying the different styles in the camera app using an iPhone 13.

Discover the result of the effects applied to the photos (click on the images to view them in their original resolution):

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Although similar to filters currently available on any smartphone on the market, Photographic Styles are an evolution of the concept, taking advantage of the image processing capabilities of modern SoCs. In the hands of the most demanding photographers, the feature can save time post-processing images in Adobe Lightroom or Apple Photos, for example.

With the adjustments offered, the effects can be customized to achieve a more natural result, similar to that highlighted by editor Benjamin Lucks in his review of the Sony Xperia 1 III, or the characteristic saturation of photos captured on Samsung phones. Basically, it largely depends on the personal preferences of the photographer.

And of course, nothing prevents other manufacturers from implementing similar functionality on their devices. Xiaomi, for example, announced in early 2021 that its ROM found in the Mi 11 will feature smart filters that can apply watercolor effects or draw background elements. Samsung, meanwhile, harnesses the processor in its high-end devices to create custom filters that mimic the style of your favorite images.

xiaomi smart filters

Apple’s Photo Styles follow a similar process to Xiaomi’s Smart Filters (above) / © Xiaomi

In addition, I could not fail to mention the controversial filters that modify the features of a face to enlarge the eyes, refine the face and modify the features of the nose and chin, among other parts of the body, like one undergoes plastic surgery digitally without having to worry about insane surgical costs or unpleasant side effects.

All of these examples take advantage of ISPs’ potential to save time when editing photos, resulting in images ready to be shared with friends and loved ones via instant messaging apps like WhatsApp or on social media.

In the case of Photographic Styles, Apple has bundled this image processing potential for the photographer to customize smart filters that can be applied to other photos. It’s not hard to imagine the company offering future variations of the technique, including the functionality demonstrated by Xiaomi, or perhaps options that use AI features to alter the appearance of the sky. , similar to those found in professional tools.

This article was written in collaboration with our editor, Camila Rinaldi.

Michael E. Marquez