Halide Developer Takes a Deep Dive Into iPhone XS Camera and Skin Smoothing Rumors

Sebastiaan de With, the developer behind photography app Halide, has taken an in-depth look at the front and rear-facing cameras in the iPhone XS and XS Max, providing some insight into complaints about a possible skin smoothing "beauty mode" that results in less realistic selfies than prior iPhone models.

A soft filter on selfies "doesn't exist," says de With, with the smoother look attributed to more aggressive noise reduction techniques and the merging of exposures that eliminates sharp light and dark contrasts where light hits the skin.

iphonexsmaxskinsmoothing

Camera differences between iPhone X and XS Max demoed by a Reddit user

Both the front and rear-facing cameras in the iPhone XS and XS Max are using computational geography to improve photo quality, a feature that takes multiple shots at once and then merges them into a single perfect photo.

Apple's iPhone XS website explains all of the different things that are going on behind the scenes when an image is captured, and part of the process involves taking shots that are underexposed, overexposed, and captured at different times, with the camera taking the best elements of each shot and combining them.

iphonexscamera

Apple says the iPhone XS performs 1 trillion operations per photo

According to de With, this results in a "whole new look" for photos that represents a "drastic departure" from images captured with previous-generation iPhones. As the Halide blog post explains, the small areas of contrast seen in photos from older iPhones can make images look sharper, but these areas of deep contrast have been eliminated in the iPhone XS models.

Using the exposure merging techniques, the iPhone XS reduces the brightness of the bright areas and the darkness of the shadows. While the detail is still there, we see it as less sharp because of this loss of contrast. Skin ends up looking smoother because the "light isn't as harsh."

The iPhone XS and XS Max are also using much more aggressive noise reduction techniques than in previous iPhones. de With says this is because the iPhone XS models prefer a faster shutter speed and a higher ISO level, capturing photos quicker but resulting in more noise. Taking care of that noise sacrifices some detail and contrast.

iphonexsnoisereduction

Noise in a RAW iPhone X image (left) compared to RAW iPhone XS image (right)

In the front-facing camera specifically, which uses a smaller sensor than the rear-facing camera, the heavy noise reduction paired with the image merging techniques leads to the noticeably smoother selfies that people have seen with the iPhone XS camera.

The tradeoff is that selfies, which traditionally are worse in mixed or harsh lighting (the majority of lighting!) are now no longer blown out, and in most cases it just looks better, if just a little on the smooth side.

According to de With, Apple can tweak these settings through software updates if the majority of people are unhappy with the selfie camera, so we may see a better compromise between noise reduction and the filtering of harsh lighting in the future.

All in all, de With believes the iPhone XS camera is better than the iPhone X camera thanks to its superior dynamic range, with some post processing able to re-add the contrast where necessary.

There are issues with RAW image capture because of the noise level. When taking RAW photos with an app like Halide, de With says it is a must to do so manually and to reduce the exposure. Otherwise, RAW images will end up looking worse than Smart HDR JPEGs.

To account for the changes to RAW image capture, Halide is gaining a new Smart RAW feature that uses the new sensor tech in the iPhone XS to get better images. It avoids Smart HDR all together to cut down on noise reduction and pull out more detail.

Halide's full blog post is well worth a read for anyone interested in an in-depth look at the camera changes Apple has introduced in the iPhone XS and XS Max. The Halide app can be downloaded from the App Store for $5.99. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

1050792 Avatar
34 months ago
Also known as beauty mode or wax mode... :rolleyes:


Attachment Image
Score: 49 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Pelea Avatar
34 months ago
Complete bs. U can say as many fancy words as u like, anyone with at least one brain cell should understand that these new phones sacrifice massive amounts of detail in exchange for an unnatural look to please 12 year old Instagramers.

All evidence shows that.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mariusignorello Avatar
34 months ago
Complete bs. U can say as many fancy words as u like, anyone with at least one brain cell should understand that these new phones sacrifice massive amounts of detail in exchange for an unnatural look to please 12 year old Instagramers.

All evidence shows that.
Ok prove it then. List all the evidence. We can wait.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BootsWalking Avatar
34 months ago
Apple is using the Bionic processor’s 600 billion operations per second to turn your photos into noise-reduction watercolor paintings.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ender21 Avatar
34 months ago
Aah, the lede was buried....

To account for the changes to RAW image capture, Halide is gaining a new Smart RAW feature that uses the new sensor tech in the iPhone XS to get better images. It avoids Smart HDR all together to cut down on noise reduction and pull out more detail.

Halide's full blog post ('https://blog.halide.cam/iphone-xs-why-its-a-whole-new-camera-ddf9780d714c') is well worth a read for anyone interested in an in-depth look at the camera changes Apple has introduced in the iPhone XS and XS Max. The Halide app can be downloaded from the App Store for $5.99.

So, long story short, this is an ad.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
34 months ago
It's the same principle as having your portrait taken by a professional photographer in a studio vs. some guy on Groupon. It looks better because it is better. It handles the light better.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
signal instagram ads3

Signal Shares the Instagram Ads Facebook Doesn't Want You to See

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:29 am PDT by
Encrypted messaging app Signal has had a series of Instagram ads blocked from the social media platform, after it attempted to show users how much data the Facebook-owned company collects about them and how it's used to push targeted ads. In a blog post, Signal described how it generated the ads to show users why they were seeing them, simply by declaring upfront the information that the...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
snapchat dark mode

Snapchat Rolls Out Dark Mode on iOS

Wednesday May 5, 2021 1:17 am PDT by
Nearly two years following the release of iOS and iPadOS 13, which included native, built-in, and systemwide dark mode, Snapchat, one of the world's most prominent social media networks, has finally rolled out a dark mode theme for iOS users. Snapchat began testing a dark mode theme of its app design late last year with a small group of iOS users. Now, Snapchat says that as of this week, it...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Brydge's 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Keyboard With Trackpad

Tuesday May 4, 2021 11:48 am PDT by
Brydge has been making keyboards for Apple's iPads for years now, and the newest model, the Brydge 12.9 MAX+, is compatible with the third, fourth, and fifth-generation iPad Pro models, so it works even with the new mini-LED iPad Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we checked out the new Brydge 12.9 MAX+ to see if it's a viable...
iphone 13 pro max dummy notch

iPhone 13 Pro Max Dummy Model Depicts Smaller Notch

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 13 models are expected to feature a slimmed down notch, marking the first major change to the TrueDepth camera system since it was introduced in the 2017 iPhone X. We're still months away from the launch of the iPhone 13, but Lewis Hilsenteger of Unbox Therapy managed to get an iPhone 13 Pro Max dummy model that represents what we can expect from the new 2021 device. Dummy...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
netflix sign up

Apple Discussed 'Punitive Measures' Against Netflix for Dropping In-App Purchases

Wednesday May 5, 2021 11:03 am PDT by
As the Epic Games v. Apple trial progresses into its third day, Apple's internal documents and communications with various companies are continuing to surface, giving us some insight into the dealings that Apple has had around the App Store. Back in December 2018, Netflix stopped offering in-app subscription options for new or resubscribing members and instead began requiring them to sign up ...
airtags

AirTag Owners Bemoan Inability to Let Others Track Their Items Via Family Sharing

Tuesday May 4, 2021 5:12 am PDT by
Apple's new AirTag item trackers have been making their way into the hands of customers since Friday, and while the company has tried to describe the ways that they can be used to find lost items, many users are still surprised and disappointed to learn that the location of an AirTag can't be shared with other family members. On the face of it, sharing the location of an AirTag via Apple's...