British Ad Industry Regulator Upholds Apple's iPhone X Claim of 'Studio-Quality' Portraits

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A British advertising regulatory body has overruled objections to an Apple television ad in which the company claims iPhone X is capable of "studio quality" portraits (via AppleInsider).

The TV ad in question, which began airing in March, showcases the smartphone's "radically new cameras with Portrait Lighting" and uses the phrasing, "Studio-quality portraits. Without the studio."

iphone x portraits ad
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was compelled to review two complaints filed by viewers "who believed that the phone could not achieve studio quality photography, and challenged whether the claim 'Studio-quality portraits' was misleading and could be substantiated."

In overruling the objections, the ASA said it had "considered consumers would understand the term 'studio-quality portraits' to mean that the lighting effects on the phone allowed the user to imitate a portrait photograph when taken in a studio".

We acknowledged that the camera on the iPhone X featured a focal lens commonly found in studio photography and understood that the images shown in the ad were photographs taken with the phone. We considered that the lighting effects that could be used when capturing and after having captured an image allowed the user to mimic a photograph similar to those taken in a studio.

We recognized that there were many effects, techniques and tools used in studio photography which played a vital role in capturing high standard images, many of which were not available to someone solely using the iPhone X. However, we recognized the emphasis was placed on the significance of the lighting effects on achieving the quality of image the ad demonstrated, and we understood that those images shown were a true reflection of the capabilities of the iPhone X’s camera. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was not misleading.

In Apple's response to the finding, the company pointed out that there was no industry standard definition of "studio-quality portraits" and that there "were wide variances between techniques, equipment, lighting and talent," which led it to understand the term as a subjective one.

Apple stated that the 50 mm focal lens in the iPhone X was one of the most popular professional studio portrait lenses and the lighting options available on the phone mimicked what could be done in a studio.

Clearcast stated that they met Apple at the time the product was released for a demonstration of the product and found that the images in the ad were a fair reflection of the camera’s capabilities. They stated that “Studio-quality” was not an official, measurable term and that the quality of the photographs, to some extent, depended on the skill of the photographer.

This isn't the first time the British watchdog has looked at viewer complaints regarding Apple ads. In 2008, Android users took umbrage at an Apple ad that claimed "all parts of the internet are on the iPhone".

The reasoning behind the complaints was that Java and Flash content aren't supported on iPhone, therefore the claim was misleading. The complaint was upheld and the ad was banned in the U.K., as was another Apple ad that was adjudged to have exaggerated the speed of the iPhone 3G.

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Top Rated Comments

keysofanxiety Avatar
33 months ago

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was compelled to review two complaints filed by viewers "who believed that the phone could not achieve studio quality photography, and challenged whether the claim 'Studio-quality portraits' was misleading and could be substantiated."

I'd bet the complaints came from two salty Android users with nothing better to do.

"Studio-quality?"

Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kevmclane Avatar
33 months ago

I’m relaxing with my home-made professional-quality coffee, thinking that all this complaint and class action crap really has gone down the rabbit hole.

Hmm, I don’t believe you could possibly make professional quality coffee in a home. I’m filing a complaint :cool:
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kevmclane Avatar
33 months ago

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) was compelled to review two complaints filed by viewers "who believed that the phone could not achieve studio quality photography, and challenged whether the claim 'Studio-quality portraits' was misleading and could be substantiated."

Haha I bet these two viewers are real fun at parties.

*Calls up ASA*
...
“I’d like to file a complaint on Apple.”
...
“Illegally selling water without a permit.”
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ApfelKuchen Avatar
33 months ago

I would hazard a guess that a very good photographer with an iPhone X could surpass some of the studio work I’ve seen. As always, being a professional simply means you are getting paid to do something. It does not always mean that you are good at what you do. That being said, I would never pay someone to take pictures with a phone. I have actually heard of “photographers” showing up to take family pictures with a phone. Unacceptable IMO.

The customer gets what he/she pays for. In the end, they're paying for great photos, not equipment rentals.

Apple certainly has paid professional photographers to shoot with iPhones, and a number of major publications have engaged pros to use iPhones for cover shoots and major pictorials (no doubt with Apple's encouragement). There's a fair amount of professional video out there shot with iPhones and iPads - assuming the only definition of "professional" involves payment, those YouTubers are certainly making money

The thing is, professionals use "non-professional" tools all the time. They use the tool that works. Sometimes the only significant difference between pro gear and consumer gear is durability. Other times, pro tools may deliver a broader range of capabilities and controls - if you don't need those extra capabilities, maybe you're wasting your money (or lugging too much weight) by carrying pro hardware. There are also times when pro tools deliver greater degrees of precision ("technical quality"). Again, it's not always necessary. An "adequate" consumer tool in the hands of a skilled pro can deliver far better results than many consumers can deliver with the shiniest pro equipment.

When it comes down to it, when the customer is hiring a pro, the customer feels better when that pro uses recognizably professional tools. On the customer's end, it reinforces their decision to use that professional (say, when an ad agency brings their client to a shoot/recording session). They're paying for the best, after all. On the pro's end, it helps justify the paycheck. "My stuff costs a lot more, so I naturally have to charge a lot more."

I can legitimately call myself a professional photographer, though I'm not a full-time working pro (I was a full-time audio pro for decades). Some of the most personally satisfying, creative shooting I've done over the past few years has been with my iPhones. They've been the right tools for the job (either by capabilities or by simply being the camera I have on hand at all times). I don't make excuses when I show iPhone images. More likely, I'll boast that I was able to take such a good shot with "just" an iPhone. I think it says more about my skills than if I had been shooting with a $5,000-$20,000 bit of pro gear. Still, when I'm on official shoots, the iPhone usually stays in my pocket. People still expect a professional photographer to use a "professional" camera.

As for that last little bit,

I have actually heard of “photographers” showing up to take family pictures with a phone. Unacceptable IMO.

Gotta tell ya, a huge part of taking good candids is that the subjects be relaxed around the camera/photographer. When people spy big, pro gear, they tend to become self-conscious. On the other hand, nobody thinks twice about being captured by an iPhone - it's such a constant of life, people don't make conscious note of it. (Nikon with huge telephoto = paparazzo. iPhone = fan.) So, when a stranger shows up for the party, an iPhone can turn out to be the perfect disguise. Understanding this is as much a part of being a pro as knowing how to compose a shot, how to anticipate action, how to get a competent exposure, or what shots you need in order to properly document the event.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kabeyun Avatar
33 months ago
I’m relaxing with my home-made professional-quality coffee, thinking that all this complaint and class action crap really has gone down the rabbit hole.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0947347 Avatar
33 months ago

Hmm, I don’t believe you could possibly make professional quality coffee in a home. I’m filing a complaint :cool:

And I will join you. You know that it takes two (according to ASA)
Home made professional Quality brew my a@se :)
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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