Deep Fusion Demo: Trying Out Apple’s Computational Photography Tech

Apple has released iOS 13.2, debuting the ‘Deep Fusion’ computational photography tech that it showed off during the iPhone 11 keynote, and we decided to take it for a quick spin to see what all the fuss is about. Spoiler Alert: If you care about photography and own an iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max, update your phone ASAP.

Deep Fusion, which is only available on the latest iPhones, uses the smartphone’s powerful A13 Bionic Neural Engine to perform what Phil Schiller called “computational photography mad science” every time you take a photo in regular light situations. It essentially takes the iPhone’s Smart HDR tech a step further by intelligently combining multiple photos into a single frame with improved detail and overall clarity.

Or, in Apple’s own words, Deep Fusion is “an advanced image processing system that uses the A13 Bionic Neural Engine to capture images with dramatically better texture, detail, and reduced noise in lower light.”

As The Verge explains in this helpful deep dive, Deep Fusion comes on automatically in almost any situation when using the tele lens, and in medium to low light situations when using the Wide lens. The Ultra-Wide lens does NOT support Deep Fusion.

When active, the technology uses nine photos in total: four short frames, four standard frames, and one long exposure. First, Deep Fusion combines three standard shots and one long-exposure into one “synthetic long” frame, which it then combines with the sharpest of four short exposures, before analyzing and enhancing the result pixel-by-pixel.

The final product should be a photo with enhanced detail and decreased noise in all of the right places. This is why most of Apple’s own sample photos show people in textured sweaters:

Photo: Apple

But Apple’s own sample photos don’t answer the real question: just how much of a difference does this technology make compared to Smart HDR? Apple claims that the difference is noticeable, and the beta testers who have been posting Deep Fusion images online over the past couple of weeks seem to agree. But we decided to take a quick before and after shot of our own.

Both of these SOOC JPEGs were taken earlier today with the same iPhone 11 Pro using the 2x telephoto lens to ensure Deep Fusion would be active. The first was captured before installing the iOS 13.2 update, the second was taken afterwards (click for full resolution):

As you can see from the crops below, the difference in the level of detail in the pup’s fur, the texture on her snout, and even the texture of the couch fabric are definitely noticeable when you get in close. Both of these are 1600 x 1000 pixel crops that have not been resized or otherwise manipulated (click to enlarge):

Maybe the results aren’t mind-blowing—certainly the impromptu photos of this editor’s dog snoozing on the couch are nothing special—but Deep Fusion seems to offer a noticeable jump in texture and detail rendering that can only help improve what is already a very capable camera. If you own an iPhone 11, 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, there’s no reason not to update to iOS 13.2 right away.

The only real ‘downside’ is that, now that Deep Fusion is officially shipping, it’s only a matter of time before we see a fresh crop of those real camera vs iPhone comparisons everyone loves so much.

A Love/Hate Review: The Voigtländer 42.5mm f/0.95 for Micro Four Thirds

Photographer Felix Jäger just recently obtained to examine a lens that lots of Micro Four Thirds shooters have on their wishlist: the Voigtländer 42.5 mm f/0.95. While that scrumptious aperture number might set your heart to racing, don’t whip out your purse simply yet.

Jäger starts the testimonial quite simply, giving you the TL; DR up front:

Is this lens worth obtaining?

Yes, if you’re an enthusiast professional photographer who takes pleasure in sluggish and purposeful shooting. Yes, for filmmakers who want a motion picture image. No, for expert photographers that need to count on their equipment for money.

However we certainly suggest you watch past that factor. As Jäger clarifies, the Voigtländer 42.5 mm f/0.95 is a lens that “lends itself extremely well to buzz reviews” thanks to its extremely quick aperture. After all, as the summary reviews, it’s “one of a handful of superfast lenses available for the M43 system.”

Attaining that number needs several compromises, and actually using it is no stroll in the park– those two subjects are the emphasis of his video clip review.

The lens might be precisely referred to as a series of irritating compromises, which Jäger is good enough to listing. You’ll intend to actually view the review to see sample images that demonstrate all of this, and become aware of what these trade-offs indicate in reality, but below they are in checklist kind:

  1. It’s manual emphasis (poor) however has a fantastic focus ring (good).
  2. It’s extremely rapid (excellent) yet not really sharp vast open (negative).
  3. It can provide you an extremely shallow depth of field (excellent), yet the bokeh can obtain extremely ugly (poor).
  4. The aperture can be declicked (good), but the blades themselves are intrusive (bad).
  5. It has a very solid feeling as well as construction (excellent), yet it is not weather sealed (poor).

And yet…

… Watch the full video clip evaluation up leading to listen to all of Jäger’s ideas on this frustrating-but-fun lens that may simply deserve the $800 price if you do not have to depend on it to make a living.

(using Felix Jäger using Reddit)