The Apple iPhone 7 Plus Is the Best New Adventure Camera
To review the camera in the new iPhone 7 Plus, I chased Outside editors up rivers, down dusty singletrack, through the woods, and into classic New Mexican burrito joints. Over four days of in-the-field testing, I’ve found it to be the best small, lightweight camera you can get for the money, ideal for shooting outdoor adventures when you don’t want to lug around pounds of heavy equipment. Here, senior editor Axie Navas rides a berm on the La Tierra trails near our Santa Fe office.
The new iPhone 7 and the 7 Plus won’t replace your DSLR or mirrorless cameras: those shooters still take, bigger better pictures—and you’ll need one if you’re pitching an Exposure shot to our magazine. But the 7 is a definite improvement over the 6s, and a great camera to have in your pocket. Case in point: Yesterday I stopped at a favorite burrito spot after an early morning fishing trip and I came across the guitarist with the local band Felix y Los Gatos, whom I photographed in the parking lot. I immediately noticed that the 7 does a much better job capturing details in the shadows and highlights than the 6s, and the color is much more accurate and vivid.
The new iPhone 7 and 7 Plus can shoot in RAW through third-party apps like Lightroom. RAW files aren’t compressed like JPEGs, which means you get more detailed files that are easier to tone and crop. Pictured: An old, very big ponderosa near the Embudo river in northern New Mexico.
You’ve probably read by now that the 7 Plus comes with two lenses—a 28mm and 56mm. (The 7 just has the 28mm lens.) The 56mm lens has a f2.8 aperture that you engage by clicking a button in the camera app. I used it to get closer to my subject without relying on a digital zoom, which is basically just cropping your photo and reducing resolution. The second lens is referred to as a zoom lens, but that’s a little misleading: most photographers would only use the word “zoom” in reference to a lens bigger than 85mm. I’d call the 56mm a great portrait lens. Pictured: Ogles’s dog Bertie.
The 12-megapixel sensors that come in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus aren’t the best for capturing billboard-size advertisements. But Apple does a nice job marrying the sensor to its proprietary software, which helps maximize the camera’s capabilities. The resolution will be plenty high enough for printing off 11-inch x14-inch pictures. This is senior editor Jonah Ogles walking to the Embudo river with his dog, Bertie.
Both the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus get a 28mm lens with a f1.8 aperture that allows up to 50 percent more light onto the camera sensor than iPhone 6s. This means you get stunningly vibrant photos in full daylight and much better shots in low light. Here’s Navas on the trails near our office.
Apple calls the 7 and 7 Plus splash and water resistant. That means the phones will be fine if you drop them in a river. They’ll also be fine if you’re shooting in a rainstorm, or snowstorm, which is an important upgrade for people like me who shoot outside most of the time. You shouldn’t, however, take the phone swimming and keep it submerged for long periods of time because they’re only rated to one meter of water for 30 minutes. Pictured: Ogles and Bertie on the Embudo river in northern New Mexico.
I shot mostly during the day, but both the 7 and 7 Plus come with optical stabilization, which helps you take stable, non-blurry photos in low light. Here I shot a brown trout with the 56mm portrait lens.
Ogles and Bertie in a channel of light.
On Monday, I shot with the iPhone 7 Plus from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., taking several hundred photos of our editors playing outside. I didn’t charge the battery once and still had 25 percent of power left at the end of the day. It seems significantly more powerful than that of 6s Plus. Pictured: associate editor Matt Skenazy running in the foothills outside of Santa Fe.