My favorite new iPhone feature isn't Portrait Lighting Mode
The newest iPhones -- the 8, 8 Plus and X -- all have a feature called Slow Sync Flash that makes photos taken with a flash actually look good.
Patrick HollandManaging Editor
Patrick Holland has been a phone reviewer for CNET since 2016. He is a former theater director who occasionally makes short films. Patrick has an eye for photography and a passion for everything mobile. He is a colorful raconteur who will guide you through the ever-changing, fast-paced world of phones, especially the iPhone and iOS. He used to co-host CNET's I'm So Obsessed podcast and interviewed guests like Jeff Goldblum, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Merchant, Sam Jay, Edgar Wright and Roy Wood Jr.
Patrick's play The Cowboy is included in the Best American Short Plays 2011-12 anthology. He co-wrote and starred in the short film Baden Krunk that won the Best Wisconsin Short Film award at the Milwaukee Short Film Festival.
There are two types of people in this world. Those who use the flash on their phone and those who don't. I fall in the latter category and do everything in my power to avoid using my phone's flash.
A flash is distracting, and can make subjects look like a glowing white light zombie standing against a dark background. Flashes normally use a higher shutter speed, which in a low-light situation causes the zombie on a dark background effect.
addressed this on the iPhone 8,
and X with a feature called Slow Sync Flash. The name sounds technical, but it's a term borrowed from photography.
Basically the iPhone takes a photo at a slower shutter speed while firing the flash quickly. With the shutter open longer, the background is exposed more making it brighter. And with the flash going off for a shorter amount of time, it's less distracting to those around you. The results are to quote Larry David, "pretty pretty pretty good."
Check out the photos below taken with the flash inside a bar. The one from the
has a darker background and lots of nasty harsh light on the subject. There's even a little red-eye happening. The 8 Plus blends the light from the flash with the background. The overall image looks good.
Slow Sync Flash is definitely my favorite feature on the new iPhones even more so than Portrait Lighting Mode. And the best part? You don't have to anything but enable your flash. The iPhone takes care of the rest.