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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Apple this evening uploaded a new "Portrait Lighting" video to its YouTube channel, which is designed to give a behind the scenes look at how the Portrait Lighting effects on the iPhone X were created.

Take a look behind the iPhone X and discover the process we went through to create Portrait Lighting. Combining timeless lighting principles with advanced machine learning, we created an iPhone that takes studio-quality portraits without the studio.
In the video, Apple explains that it worked with global image makers and some of the world's best photographers to combine timeless lighting principles with machine learning techniques.

The result was the Portrait Lighting feature available in Portrait Mode on the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 Plus. On iPhone X, Portrait Lighting is available for both the front and rear facing cameras thanks to the TrueDepth camera system, while on iPhone 8 Plus, it's available for shots captured with the rear camera.

Apple's Portrait Lighting feature is designed to use sophisticated algorithms to calculate how your facial features interact with light, creating unique lighting effects.

There are several Portrait mode lighting presets, including Natural Light, Studio Light (lights up your face), Contour Light (adds dramatic shadows), Stage Light (spotlights your face against a dark background), and Stage Light Mono (Stage Light, but in black and white).

Apple has also highlighted Portrait Lighting in several past video ads showing off iPhone X features.

Article Link: Apple Shares Behind the Scenes Look at How the Portrait Lighting Feature Was Created


macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2016
Videos. The more the merrier :)

Though wish we got to get some iMac (and I mean not iMac Pro, but general iMac line-up) video stuff / love too. If only a ‘full house’ video connecting all devices...


macrumors 68000
Oct 11, 2011
This is great as another over priced industry is gone.

I was just discussing this today. It used to be anyone with a DLSR would call themselves a photographer. Now since everyone with a new smart phone can take their own pictures (better than most “photographers”) the only surviving photographers will be the ones that are actually great. Darwinism of the photography industry.


macrumors regular
Mar 16, 2013
I actually really enjoy this feature and look forward to future revisions and new modes. It gets a little confused with more than one face, and it goes a little overboard in some lighting conditions. I think a slider to adjust the intensity would be a nice additive.
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macrumors newbie
Jul 28, 2017
So, one light and a reflector then. Yes, revolutionary. I'm sure professional photographers throughout the land are terrified that their livelihood is now moot, killed by a chap or chapess turning up with a multi-use communications device that you can't even physically remove the file from.

The example of "studio-quality photos" being taken demonstrably in a studio is a peculiar one, even for Apple.
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macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
The only portrait effect I use on my 8+ is the one they introduced with iPhone 7+
I think it is the only one that really works and if you look at the pics on a phone or a tablet they seem really good. I printed some of them and as long as you chose a small format they're fine. If you look to them on a mac or a pc you can immediately notice they're taken with an iPhone, but that's ok, the phone isn't a DSLR.
The effects with the black background never work for me. I can clearly see parts of the face cut, or part of the background still attached to the subject even without zooming the pic on my iPhone
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macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2014
Hamburg, Germany
To all the naysayers and false-advertising-claimers:

Sure, the feature is far from perfect. For me, Portrait Mode with the TrueDepth (front) Camera is seldom satisfactory. But keep in mind that Portrait Lighting is still officially in beta.

However I don't doubt a second that it works exactly as advertised, with the exact woman from the video, in that exact setting. And many other scenarios/persons. It's really your hair that makes or breaks it.

Also did you notice the usual "screen images simulated" or "additional software/hardware used" disclaimers were missing? What you saw on the iPhone in the video was legit.
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macrumors regular
Oct 29, 2006
You call this behind the scenes?
It‘s like showing Transformers Movie and after that a Kid playing with its Transformers toys.

It was a great laugh. Thanks :)
Last edited:

Jesse Waugh

Nov 10, 2017
New York City
The bulk of the kit set up on the left is what we call "the big show." Set up enough stuff and it'll look impressive—now the client knows they're getting their money's worth! This is really a one-light photo—and if you're doing it right, you don't even need the seamless.

Yeah - in my experience all that equipment doesn’t necessarily make for a better photo - just one that has aesthetics which people associate as “professional”. The best photos in my opinion were Hollywood golden age celebrity portraits, which I believe were lit fairly simply with one or two lights and maybe a reflector — that combined with soft lens effects and sympathetic developing.
This reminds me of when Apple brags about iOS 11 adoption rates.

Does no one at Apple see the quality problems?

Half the posters on MacRumors refuse to acknowledge Apple’s quality issues. Goodness knows how brainwashed Apple cult victims — oh sorry - I mean Apple employees - are when it comes to seeing the forest for the trees.
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