DSLR vs iPhone 7+

When they introduced the iPhone 7+, I was annoyed.

2X OPTICAL ZOOM? PORTRAIT MODE?? These all seemed like exactly the gimmicky things it would take for me to upgrade my phone I'd had less than a year. The main thing that keeps me upgrading each year is the camera, and this year was no exception.

The phrase about photography that has the most impact on me over the years is simple - "The best camera is the one you have with you." It's true, it doesn't matter if you have the Nikon ONE MILLION Plus if it's not on your shoulder when you see a bunny trying to eat cotton candy. With the advancements in phones today, the camera we carry around every day is lightyears ahead of the point-and-shoot cams we were toting around in high school.

This week, Apple introduced "Portrait Mode" to the world (in beta form). So I decided to test the software bokeh effect against my DSLR.

The specs? I'm working with an iPhone 7+ (in rose gold, le duh) using the new Portrait Mode in beta, comparing it to my Nikon D5200 using a 1.8f 35mm lens. I do want to note my one mistake - I shoot completely in RAW on my DSLR, so I had to process those through Photoshop, which did affect the color and exposure slightly. If I were to do this test again (and I likely will when the program is out of beta), I'd shoot in jpeg to best replicate the same effect. That being said, I think you're going to be blown away by the results.

Pic 1: Bobby Close Crop

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

I candidly shot a few pics of my husband while we were warming up and was shocked at how well the iPhone set up. There's a clear difference from the regular iPhone to the Portrait Mode - it creates a solid bokeh effect while keeping BB in focus. Since Portrait is still in beta, it still has some difficulty discerning clean edges on a subject, but it did a great job in this photo. The biggest difference in the iPhone bokeh and the DSLR is that the DSLR creates a "real" bokeh effect - showing the edges of the light - whereas the iPhone just creates a blurred background. Study the light coming through the trees and you'll see what I mean.

Pic 2: Bobby Full Body

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

One of the biggest selling points of the iPhone 7+? The idea that I'd be able to blog with it when I didn't have my DSLR handy. However, taking outfit photos means taking a full-body look. The iPhone struggled a little more with the background on a shot that was further away, but still did a pretty decent job of creating a natural blur. The effect looks like a full f-stop above the 1.8 I shot the DSLR, but still creates a differentiation between the subject and background.

Pic 3: Brick Wall, Close Up

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

So what about my normal brick wall? I've taken hundreds of blog photos in this spot, so how would it fare with portrait mode? Well, we ran into some problems. You can see that my hair gave the software some problems, which might easily be fixed when the program comes out of beta. Even still, the colors and depth are impressive for a phone when you're at this range! I think it's worth noting how much the portrait mode softens the photo overall compared to the original, too. Sort of like you're putting yourself through a filter.

Pic 4: Brick Wall, Full Body

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

Let's back up and try that again. The iPhone loses some detail, and gets confused with my legs. Honestly, I look thinner using the DSLR (NO idea why though). But the two are close when it comes to background blur, even though iPhone got picky and wouldn't let us back up too far.

Pic 5: Street Photo, Close Up

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

After examining the results from the other photos, it became clear that the more distance you can put between your subject and background, the better. The differences between the Portrait Mode and DSLR are almost identical! Here's where I can admit the iPhone may have a slight advantage: You can still see the clear lines of the ridges in the jacket sleeves, but it blurs out flyaways completely. That means less Photoshop and a more polished look, so the iPhone's inability to read every last strand ends up working for me.

Pic 6: Street Photo, Full Body

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

You can really see how putting more distance between the subject and background helps in these photos! The biggest difference you'll see in the iPhone vs DSLR is in the foreground - the DSLR blurs the wall and grate a lot more than the iPhone does. However, around the face and shoulders you see a lot of similarities. If I were to apply the same color correctors and exposure work to the middle photo, you'd have almost identical photos.

The Verdict? YES.

Yes, you can take blog photos with the iPhone 7+ and portrait mode! While the software will never truly be able to perfectly replicate a DSLR with a prime lens, it does an amazing job of mimicking the effect. To lesser trained eyes, you can definitely use portrait mode to capture great outfit photos. Just remember these few key tricks:

  1. Make sure you have enough light. The phone will won't let you take a photo without proper light, but the better the light, the better your photo. Try to take photos outdoors, in an evenly lit, shady spot. If you can face the light but stay in the shade, you'll get the best lighting.
  2. Put a lot of distance between your subject and the background. While the portrait mode can do some magic against a wall, you'll get a more natural bokeh effect when you have more space behind your subject. Try positioning them on a long street, across a park, or on a balcony for ultimate blur effect.
  3. Add some contrast. Wearing all black? Try standing on a lighter background. The more contrast there is between the background and your outfit, the easier the camera can figure out what to keep in focus.
  4. Listen to your phone. Don't get frustrated when it gives you instructions! The software is created to help you get the best pics EVER, so move forward, backward, and look for the light to get your best photos.
  5. When in doubt, get closer. As impressed as I am with the full body portraits, there's no doubt that the closer photos just look that much better.  Just make sure that you check the edges of every photo before you post it to Facebook, and re-take anything that looks a little weird. The most accustomed you become to the weird nuances of portrait mode, the easier it'll be to fool everyone!

PS: Does it work for still shots? YEP.

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

iPhone 7 Regular // iPhone 7 Portrait Mode // Nikon D5200

At the end of my experiment, I decided to play with a little still life. While portrait mode is intended for human faces (and programmed to recognize them), it can create some beautiful blurred effects for objects! Just make sure you put enough distance between the camera and the subject, and make sure you have plenty of light. So why would someone use the iPhone over a DSLR in this case? Notice how much more of the plant is in focus in the middle photo - using the iPhone portrait mode over a DSLR could give a bokeh effect without completely taking the subject out of focus, which could be very useful for product shots.

Who else has played with Portrait Mode? I'd love to see your photos and hear more about what you think of the beta! Honestly, I'm impressed and can't wait to incorporate this Apple magic into my blog when I can't lug my Nikon everywhere. Oh, Apple. What will they think of next?

The Non-CommitTal Girl's Guide to Blinging Your Closet

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ScotchClothingEssentials #CollectiveBias

I really admire those DIY people who can make something amazing out of random stuff around their house.

I am not that type of girl.

I love a good DIY, of course; I've been making my own graphic tees since middle school using sponge letters and cheap craft paints. But I think we can all agree that after the materials, patience and effort, sometimes you just end up ruining stuff.

So the idea of today's blog post? We're gonna use Scotch Essentials to jazz some stuff up without completely ruining it. I'm a big stud fan, and thanks to Valentino these shiny little rockstars aren't going anywhere. So I grabbed Scotch™ Essentials Hem Bonding Strips - they were the exact size I needed for this bag -  and set out to stud this boring clutch.

What You'll Need:

  • Clutch or Bag to be studded
  • Studs (I got mine at a craft store)
  • Scotch™ Essentials Hem Bonding Strips or Wardrobe Tape

Step One: Decide on a pattern.

I didn't want to completely knock off the original, so I decided I wanted to make one large studded stripe down the middle. I determined how wide I wanted the whole strip to be and laid out my tape on the clutch.

Step Two: Stud it!

I didn't want the tape to show through, so I made sure the studs were nice and cozy on the tape as I tacked them on.

Step Three: Yeah, that's it, you're done.

What WAS just a plain black purse now had the jazzy exterior of a far more rocker-chic piece. Where's my easy button, because THAT is a DIY I can get behind.


Step Four: Stick other things to things.

The possibilities for temporary embellishment are endless with these products! Here are a few ideas:

  • Tack colorful patches to a denim jacket
  • Customize t-shirts with cloth or embroidered letters
  • Rhinestone the heck out of your makeup bag
  • Add studs to the collar of a blazer
  • Bling out a bootie with a chunky heel

Scotch™ Essentials isn't just for wardrobe DIYs, though. They've got little multi-purpose stickies, a sweater pill remover, even an eraser to get rid of deodorant marks. The whole collection is a girl-on-the-go's dream! I've used the Hem Bonding Strips for fixing a loose hem, to keep the buttons on my shirt from popping open, and to make a wrap dress a little more modest. Check out the full collection here, and drop by your local Walmart to find it!

AJ Wears :: A Faux Suede Skirt

People, I think I've found it. JustFab sent me the perfect transition piece for fall. Since it's faux suede, it's light enough for these days the weather still goes up to 80° . 

Skirt, c/o JustFab (Shop more suede skirts on Shopbop).
Heels, c/o JustFab.
Sweater, Forever 21 (similar - I'm wearing large).
Bag, Clare V (shop all of her clutches!).

PS!! My Shopbop Sale order came in and I am in L-U-V.

So I have a bit of a Stuart Weitzman problem, I admit it. But these Stuart Weitzman booties are just the perfect basic bootie, especially for fans of the Highland who don't always want to squeeze their calves into those. I'm also a big lover of the Nudist Heels - I bought it in one of the nude shades a few years ago - so buying it in black seemed like the next logical step. I wore them with jeans and a flannel on Saturday night and felt much cooler than I actually am. Anyone else get some gems from the sale?