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Tested: Apple’s Portrait Lighting feature is DEFINITELY in beta

The iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X both step up the use of machine learning to improve photos. We saw these smarts used for portrait mode, but Apple has since turned its algorithms loose on ‘Portrait Lighting’.

The Cupertino company makes a point of slapping the beta tag on the feature — at least on its website — and it certainly shows.

We took a few shots with our iPhone 8 Plus review unit, using all the Portrait Lighting options at our disposal (natural light, studio light, contour light, stage light and stage light mono).

The results? Check my awkward mug out below (click on the images to view them properly), but it’s safe to say that the stage light options can be ridiculously rough right now. Still, the potential is clearly there when it works well.

iPhone 8 Plus Portrait Lighting
left right

Portrait Lighting Natural

A standard Portrait Mode shot, using the Natural Light option.

Portrait Lighting Studio

The Studio option looks good.

Portrait Lighting Contour

A switch to the Contour Light option seems to work well enough.

Portrait Lighting Stage

The Stage Light option cuts off the ears, some hair and my cheek/jaw area.

Portrait Lighting Natural

We opted for a wall in the background in this series. Here's the Natural Lighting option.

Portrait Lighting Studio

A move to the Studio Light yields positive results.

Portrait Lighting Contour

Contour Light is another tentative hit for Apple here.

Portrait Lighting Stage

My ear gets clipped badly with Stage Light mode. But it's not nearly as bad as the other Stage Light sample.

Portrait Lighting Stage Mono

Much like the standard Stage Light shot, we get a clipped ear. But an otherwise solid shot.

Author Bio

Hadlee Simons
Terrible puns make Hadlee Simons difficult to work with, but he brings over seven years of tech journalism experience to the table. When he's not at work or watching motorsport, he's in the foetal position on a jiu jitsu mat. More