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Deep Fusion is a camera technology from Apple that aims to increase detail of a photograph snapped on iPhone. The Deep Fusion Camera feature is currently only available on the newest phones like iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max, but unlike many other new camera features for these iPhones, like ultra wide angle lens, zoom lens, or night mode, how do you use the Deep Fusion camera?
This is where things get a bit more interesting, as Deep Fusion is different from other camera features on iPhone.
Rather than having a button or an option to enable Deep Fusion on the iPhone 11 camera, instead Apple has designed Deep Fusion to happen automatically when it’s optimal, without user involvement.
Of course that doesn’t answer the question as to how to use Deep Fusion camera then, does it? That answer is a bit more nebulous since the feature enables itself automatically.
How to Use Deep Fusion Camera on iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro
According to Apple, Deep Fusion mode will become active when the standard camera lens is in use in medium to brightly lit environments.
Similarly, the telephoto zoom lens will only use Deep Fusion mode when the subject is very brightly lit.
The ultra wide angle lens does not currently use Deep Fusion at all, however, regardless of lighting conditions.
So essentially if you want to use Deep Fusion on iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro Camera, make sure you’re using the 1x camera in a well-lit environment, like a very bright room, or outdoors in the daylight. Likewise, you can use the 2x camera in a very bright setting, and Deep Fusion should enable automatically then too.
Thus the key to using Deep Fusion is lighting, as with many other aspects of photography.
Why is there no indicator that Deep Fusion is enabled on iPhone 11 Camera?
Apple apparently told Theverge.com that there’s intentionally no indicator anywhere about iPhone cameras using Deep Fusion because they don’t want people to think about how to get the best photo, instead they’d rather people just take pictures naturally and let the iPhone camera determine what the best level of detail and blending technology to use.
This has a side effect of making it a challenge to actually determine if a photo has used Deep Fusion technology at all or not. But generally speaking, if the camera was used in a bright environment, and the picture seems to have very high detail, it might be a good guess that Deep Fusion was used to perfect the photos appearance.
Additionally, you won’t even necessarily see any references to Deep Fusion in the EXIF and metadata of photos snapped on the iPhone camera (this disappoints some of us photo and data nerds, but given the intention of the feature it makes some sense).
What is Deep Fusion? And how does it work anyway?
When Apple launched the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, and iPhone 11 and spent some keynote time on the devices cameras, they discussed Deep Fusion and a bit about how it works.
In short, in proper lighting situations, the iPhone 11 camera will snap a series of nine photos of the same scene, then Deep Fusion uses machine learning to determine which of the combinations of the photos will result in the sharpest and best possible picture. That may mean blending components of those nine photos together to get the best possible resolution and quality of an image.
Deep Fusion is really a pretty cool camera technology, and presumably it will carry forward to all future iPhone models and advance further as time goes on and the iPhone cameras get more complex and more capable.
What do Deep Fusion photos look like?
A photo snapped on iPhone using Deep Fusion technology should basically show more detail with better and more realistic lighting including highlights and shadows.
Here’s an example photo taken on iPhone 11 Pro where Deep Fusion was apparently active, the picture is a relative close-up of animal fur and as you can see it’s highly detailed (click for larger size) :
As you can see the photo is very detailed, and that’s despite the photo being compressed into a web-friendly JPEG format at a lower resolution. In other words, the actual raw photo looks even sharper, crisper, and better than that example!
Because Deep Fusion photos are not marked in EXIF or metadata, it can be challenging to figure out which exactly are using the camera technology, but if a photo looks especially great and sharp, it’s a good bet it was snapped with Deep Fusion on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, or iPhone 11 Pro Max.