iPhone 11’s Deep Fusion Creates Composited HDR Images

With the beta of iOS 13.2 arriving with the new iPhone 11, Apple is previewing Deep Fusion, the company’s name for machine learning-aided computational photography to enhance details. The trick of snapping multiple exposures that are then composited into an ideal photo might not sit well with professional photographers, but the A13 Bionic-enabled iPhone 11 will do just that, beginning to shoot before the shutter button is pressed and then picking the best bits of the photos to create the best one possible.

VentureBeat reports that “if you accept high-dynamic range (HDR) images as ‘photography’ rather than art — using three or seven exposures to create one image with idealized shadow, highlight, and color detail — you can’t really object to the use of similar techniques to enhance sharpness.”

The article showed two comparison images, both of which were 100 percent crops from larger photos. “You can clearly see stronger pixel-level details in the skin and metal,” the source mentioned, adding that, “the wood is sharp rather than soft.”

It found that Apple’s claim that Deep Fusion would render fabrics and other textures “more crisply” is true. But, it adds, “when you zoom out … [the viewer would] be hard pressed to tell me which of the following two images used Deep Fusion without assistive captions.”

Although only those obsessed with details will likely care about the difference Deep Fusion can provide, “Apple’s decision to exploit its super-fast A13 processor for AI trickery will surely divide some traditional photographers from the modern masses.”

VB notes that “well before there was a #nofilter movement — currently at 261 million posts on the filter-focused app Instagram — many photographers argued that adulterating a photo by compositing, Photoshopping, or even post-processing colors in it was cheating.”

Even for the non-professionals, Apple’s iPhone 11 will, by default, auto-composite HDR images “with properly balanced highlights and shadows … clean up its raw image sensor output for noise, and apply sharpening and/or anti-lens distortion filters to produce cleaner images.” For users that opt not to use Deep Fusion, the iPhone 11 still will “offer noticeable camera detail improvements over their predecessors.”