ASA rules that Apple can claim the iPhone X shoots “studio-quality portraits”

Jun 28, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

ASA rules that Apple can claim the iPhone X shoots “studio-quality portraits”

Jun 28, 2018

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Back in March, Apple started showing an advertisement on UK TV for the iPhone X. It claimed “radically new cameras with Portrait Lighting. Studio-quality portraits. Without the studio”. Not everybody was impressed by this claim, and two filed a complaint with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.

They alleged that the claim “Studio-quality portraits” was misleading and could not be substantiated. Well, it seems it’s not all doom and gloom for Apple right now. After an investigation, the ASA have examined the complaints and ruled that yes, Apple can make that claim.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejbppmWYqPc

Apple’s counterargument stated that there was no industry standard definition of “Studio-quality” portraits. They said that there were wide variances between techniques, equipment, lighting and talent. Thus the term itself was a subjective one. So, basically, their argument was that “studio-quality” means nothing at all.

As to the Portrait Lighting feature, Apple says that it was “the result of studying light and depth and provided users those tools to easily create studio lighting effects in the camera”. They also justified the choice for the 50mm equivalent focal length lens.

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

The ASA did not uphold the complaints.

You can read more about the ASA’s investigation and ruling here.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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15 responses to “ASA rules that Apple can claim the iPhone X shoots “studio-quality portraits””

  1. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    It really doesn’t mean anything though. If the term was used in reference to audio it would be a different story.

    1. Motti Bembaron Avatar
      Motti Bembaron

      Why? They could claim studio audio quality without the studio. I am sure the court would have allowed that too. Money talks and Apple has lots of it.

      Besides, UK courts are not as forceful when it comes to US companies :-)

    2. lewisfrancis Avatar
      lewisfrancis

      There are tons of home recording products that are capable of “studio audio” and have been for years and years.

  2. Colin Andrew Woods Avatar
    Colin Andrew Woods

    There is actually alot more talent and skill involved, behind the scene of a great portrait shoot, not just technology or simple lighting. Pretty cool what technology is doing though, but the human touch and feel, will always be missing from tech alone.

  3. Білий Саша Avatar
    Білий Саша

    Well, what does “studio quality photo” mean today?

  4. lewisfrancis Avatar
    lewisfrancis

    Over the years plenty of people have done pro shoots using iPhones, their results making covers of major magazines. What did the claimants hope to gain from their complaints?

  5. Michael Miller Avatar
    Michael Miller

    “Studio quality” portrait doesn’t mean any more than the “buffet style” pizza they serve at gas stations.

  6. Galonii August Avatar
    Galonii August

    but the question is, what does a 24X36 print look like from a apple phone?

    1. RCC Avatar
      RCC

      Apple has printed iPhone photos much larger than that on billboards.

  7. Kryn Sporry Avatar
    Kryn Sporry

    Technically I’d have to concur. “Studio quality “ doesn’t mean a damn thing. It’s still misleading though, as most people associate “studio quality “ with “professional high quality “.

    1. Greg Barber Avatar
      Greg Barber

      Not sure how wide-spread the practice is… Here we get food products labeled as “lite” or “low-salt.” The labels have no standard to back them up. Once, a Little Debbie pie was labeled as “lite” because it had fewer calories than their regular pie. But, it was still very high in calories.

    2. Kryn Sporry Avatar
      Kryn Sporry

      It’s with everything.

    3. Greg Barber Avatar
      Greg Barber

      Hard to take “studio quality” iPhone pics without reasonable control over off camera lighting.

    4. Kryn Sporry Avatar
      Kryn Sporry

      well that’s exactly what they decided. You CAN claim “studio quality” without any control over any kind of light, natural vs artificial, on or off camera. It’s because people with a studio vary in their capability to control light. Unethical? Absolutely, but since there is no defined standard, mostly because of those without control, that means studio quality is as much worth as the statements “reduced something” like you referred to. Sux. And I think this should be a call for the industry to go define that standard.

    5. Greg Barber Avatar
      Greg Barber

      Marketing people gone AWOL