January 27, 2021

Portrait Mode

Is portrait mode on smartphones a useful feature?

Is it worth using portrait mode?

As you may or may not know, I am a portrait photographer. Therefore, I also love to take portraits of my kids with my smartphone :) In addition, it is also an easy way to obtain an interesting photo effect for social media.

Today's smartphones are equipped with the portrait mode, which I encourage you to use :) As for, it is very useful and I love it! It is not a complicated mode and there is nothing difficult to use in everyday photography. The only thing I recommend is to consider the portrait photo itself. The effect we get by using the portrait mode will surely be satisfactory and will diversify our family album. In addition, we get the effect immediately and we don't have to spend even a minute editing the photo.

Some technical explanation: The main feature of portrait mode is blurring the background. This effect is achieved at the interface between the hardware and software layers. Yes, the above-mentioned techniques are used to create a depth map, but tiny lenses with small matrices are not able to blur the background in a natural, physical way. The bokeh effect is achieved by software, which is simply by artificially blurring what is further according to the depth map data.

Below, there are photos from last days when we had some snow. I used only a portrait mode without any retouching. I usually adjust my photos and in our smartphone we could also find few very useful editing options. As you can see the the background is quite blurry, thus distinguishing the portrayed person.

The first attempts with artificial blurring of the background looked very artificial, but today the blur can look very credible, especially if we are viewing a photo in the Internet size. I have no doubt that in a few years the average viewer will not be able to distinguish the natural blur of the proffessional camera from the smartphone's blur.

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