The New iPhones’ Feature Isn’t Portrait Lighting Mode, It’s Slow Sync Flash That Makes Pictures Better Than Ever


Apple announced three iPhones at the beginning of September in the form of iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and the iPhone X, boasting about their new larger camera sensors, a faster processor and new software tricks including Portrait Lighting Mode. But a feature that could prove to be one of the biggest upgrades to the camera flash in years, has been flown under the radar.


The iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X comes with a new feature called “Slow Sync Flash” that makes photos taken with a flash actually look good. It improves picture quality when relying on the camera flash. It’s a simple change, but very effective.

Normally, when the iPhone takes a photo with flash, as explained by, it shines the rear LED and captures the image at the same time. When taking a photo of a person in a room, this results in a subject that appears well-lit with plenty of detail. But if the person is standing in a much darker room, the background can sometimes appear pitch black. It’s fine for capturing faces, but especially in photos taken at dimly-lit parties, the surrounding context is lost in the process.

Slow sync flash fixes this. The new iPhones take a photo at a slower shutter speed (Flashes normally use a higher shutter speed, which, in a low-light situation causes the zombie on a dark background effect) while firing the flash quickly. With the shutter open longer, the background is exposed more making it brighter.

Look at this comparison shot taken by Patrick Holland, associate editor from CNET, that really shows off the power of this feature.


Slow-sync flash is nothing new, in fact, it’s been around for years in digital cameras, which involves setting the flash off at a slower shutter speed. This lets in more light, including from the background, which evens out the light differences.

Hence, with the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X, you will be able to take better photos than ever with flash.

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