Halide Developer Takes a Deep Dive Into iPhone XS Camera and Skin Smoothing Rumors

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    [​IMG]


    Sebastiaan de With, the developer behind photography app Halide, has taken an in-depth look at the front and rear-facing cameras in the iPhone XS and XS Max, providing some insight into complaints about a possible skin smoothing "beauty mode" that results in less realistic selfies than prior iPhone models.

    A soft filter on selfies "doesn't exist," says de With, with the smoother look attributed to more aggressive noise reduction techniques and the merging of exposures that eliminates sharp light and dark contrasts where light hits the skin.

    [​IMG]
    Camera differences between iPhone X and XS Max demoed by a Reddit user

    Both the front and rear-facing cameras in the iPhone XS and XS Max are using computational geography to improve photo quality, a feature that takes multiple shots at once and then merges them into a single perfect photo.

    Apple's iPhone XS website explains all of the different things that are going on behind the scenes when an image is captured, and part of the process involves taking shots that are underexposed, overexposed, and captured at different times, with the camera taking the best elements of each shot and combining them.

    [​IMG]
    Apple says the iPhone XS performs 1 trillion operations per photo​

    According to de With, this results in a "whole new look" for photos that represents a "drastic departure" from images captured with previous-generation iPhones. As the Halide blog post explains, the small areas of contrast seen in photos from older iPhones can make images look sharper, but these areas of deep contrast have been eliminated in the iPhone XS models.

    Using the exposure merging techniques, the iPhone XS reduces the brightness of the bright areas and the darkness of the shadows. While the detail is still there, we see it as less sharp because of this loss of contrast. Skin ends up looking smoother because the "light isn't as harsh."

    The iPhone XS and XS Max are also using much more aggressive noise reduction techniques than in previous iPhones. de With says this is because the iPhone XS models prefer a faster shutter speed and a higher ISO level, capturing photos quicker but resulting in more noise. Taking care of that noise sacrifices some detail and contrast.

    [​IMG]
    Noise in a RAW iPhone X image (left) compared to RAW iPhone XS image (right)​

    In the front-facing camera specifically, which uses a smaller sensor than the rear-facing camera, the heavy noise reduction paired with the image merging techniques leads to the noticeably smoother selfies that people have seen with the iPhone XS camera.
    According to de With, Apple can tweak these settings through software updates if the majority of people are unhappy with the selfie camera, so we may see a better compromise between noise reduction and the filtering of harsh lighting in the future.

    All in all, de With believes the iPhone XS camera is better than the iPhone X camera thanks to its superior dynamic range, with some post processing able to re-add the contrast where necessary.

    There are issues with RAW image capture because of the noise level. When taking RAW photos with an app like Halide, de With says it is a must to do so manually and to reduce the exposure. Otherwise, RAW images will end up looking worse than Smart HDR JPEGs.

    To account for the changes to RAW image capture, Halide is gaining a new Smart RAW feature that uses the new sensor tech in the iPhone XS to get better images. It avoids Smart HDR all together to cut down on noise reduction and pull out more detail.

    Halide's full blog post is well worth a read for anyone interested in an in-depth look at the camera changes Apple has introduced in the iPhone XS and XS Max. The Halide app can be downloaded from the App Store for $5.99. [Direct Link]

    Article Link: Halide Developer Takes a Deep Dive Into iPhone XS Camera and Skin Smoothing Rumors
     
  2. BootsWalking, Oct 1, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2018

    BootsWalking macrumors 6502a

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    Apple is using the Bionic processor’s 600 billion operations per second to turn your photos into noise-reduction watercolor paintings.
     
  3. givemeanapple macrumors Demi-God

    givemeanapple

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  4. Baymowe335 macrumors 68040

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    It's 5 trillion and it can be tweaked if necessary.
     
  5. Pelea macrumors 6502

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    Complete bs. U can say as many fancy words as u like, anyone with at least one brain cell should understand that these new phones sacrifice massive amounts of detail in exchange for an unnatural look to please 12 year old Instagramers.

    All evidence shows that.
     
  6. mariusignorello macrumors 65816

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    Ok prove it then. List all the evidence. We can wait.
     
  7. djlythium macrumors 6502a

    djlythium

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    Seems like a great empirical examination of the XS's processes. Good work, de With!
     
  8. givemeanapple macrumors Demi-God

    givemeanapple

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    Because showing your veiny face is very important when uploading a picture Online.
     
  9. Occamsrazr macrumors 6502

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    This is silly. Anyone obsessing this much over their selfies is the exact market segment that Apple is trying to pacify with the "beauty filter"
     
  10. macduke macrumors G3

    macduke

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    #10
    It's the same principle as having your portrait taken by a professional photographer in a studio vs. some guy on Groupon. It looks better because it is better. It handles the light better.
     
  11. AndyDiamond macrumors 6502

    AndyDiamond

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    yup all those 12 year olds with $1000+ phones - those ones?
     
  12. ThunderSkunk macrumors 68030

    ThunderSkunk

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    #12
    We’re comparing image quality...
    of jpegs?
     
  13. joueboy macrumors 65816

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    In layman's term it's called "Beauty Mode"! They can explain the technology behind how the skin is being smoothed out on their selfie photo but almost all their customer would never ever understand about it. Call it beauty mode and be done with it, besides the photo is no longer sharp because of blurriness that applied to it.
     
  14. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

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    As someone who needs good selfies, I DO NOT WANT AUTO SKIN SMOOTHENING ANYTHING!
     
  15. ender21 macrumors 6502

    ender21

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    Aah, the lede was buried....

    To account for the changes to RAW image capture, Halide is gaining a new Smart RAW feature that uses the new sensor tech in the iPhone XS to get better images. It avoids Smart HDR all together to cut down on noise reduction and pull out more detail.

    Halide's full blog post is well worth a read for anyone interested in an in-depth look at the camera changes Apple has introduced in the iPhone XS and XS Max. The Halide app can be downloaded from the App Store for $5.99. ​

    So, long story short, this is an ad.
     
  16. Hieveryone macrumors 68040

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    I mean you can see the photos right?

    I don't know the technical details, but this "beauty mode" is totally unacceptable to me.
     
  17. neuropsychguy macrumors 65816

    neuropsychguy

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    #17
    No, HEIC images. JPEGs have been off by default since iOS 11.
     
  18. bladerunner2000 macrumors 68020

    bladerunner2000

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    #18
    Wouldn't this be the instagram narcissists favourite feature?
     
  19. ender21 macrumors 6502

    ender21

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    #19
    The myriad of posts on many sites providing evidence are, you know, evidence.

    YOU can wait. Don't presume to speak for others.
     
  20. TwoBytes macrumors 68030

    TwoBytes

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    This isn't a big deal, just some very minor skin smoothing on a camera that is primarily used as a selfie camera. It's a good thing, leave it on.
     
  21. Delgibbons macrumors 6502a

    Delgibbons

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    #21
    Yay for less accurate photography! Courage
     
  22. EugW macrumors 601

    EugW

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    The article criticizes people for complaining about too much smoothing, but then goes on to make the same conclusion that the iPhone XS / Max camera is being noticeably more aggressive with noise reduction.

    News flash, that was most people's complaint in the first place: Too much noise reduction.
     
  23. ender21 macrumors 6502

    ender21

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    #23
    If I was describing it in layman's terms to someone with no knowledge I might go this route, but in reality, the difference you're describing is one of lighting. Good portrait photography would have a shallow depth of field and lighting that results in a lower contrast, "softer" looking image, yet all the detail is still present. Take the well-lit, flatter portrait image and grade it with higher contrast and one could make all the details pop more.

    In the iphone XS's case, the evidence seems to suggest that the detail isn't there to be brought back. de With is suggesting that a combo of noise reduction plus multi-image compositing is effectively filtering it out.
     
  24. BootsWalking macrumors 6502a

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    The article contains a comparison of raw images.
     
  25. PickUrPoison macrumors 68020

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    #25
    This beauty mode you quote does not seem to beautify. People are complaining the pictures are less beautiful.

    Apple will likely tweak the noise reduction to actually make the pictures more beautiful, they usually iterate new features to improve them. I guess we’ll have to wait for an update for the “beautiful mode”. But then people will probably complain about the “ugly filter” lol.
     

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