When I first purchased the Essential PH-1, I was blown away by everything but the camera app. It functioned, but was far from impressive. It took photos, none of which were really worth reporting on. In fact, I went so far as to say installing a third-party app, such as Manual Camera, was a better route than the stock app. A few short weeks later and Essential has done a masterful job of getting that camera up to speed with the competition. Is it a worthy contender to take down the Pixel 2 camera? Probably not. But at this point, the PH-1 camera should not be a reason for anyone to avoid this mid-priced, high-end, flagship device.

In light of the changes made to the Essential camera app, I thought it wise to demonstrate how to use the newly added portrait mode in the camera. It’s not difficult to use, and the end results can be an amazing way to help sell your products.

What is portrait mode?

First off what exactly is portrait mode? Portrait mode is a function that uses a large aperture to keep the background out of focus, while using a narrow depth of field, to keep the subject in focus. It’s a very effective method of artistically highlighting a subject.

After working with the Essential camera portrait mode, I can safely say the app works and works well (as shown in Figure A).

Figure A

How to use portrait mode

When you open up the Essential Phone camera app, it will default to Auto mode (Figure B). Tap on portrait mode to switch.

Figure B

Once in portrait mode, tap on the image you want in focus. It will need to be at least 12 inches from the background images. When you tap on the image, two sliders will appear (Figure C).

Figure C

The vertical slider raises and lowers the amount of light exposure. If the image is too dark, slide it up. If the image is too bright, slide it down. The horizontal slider adjusts the blur of the background. For more blur, slide it to the right. For less blur, slide it to the left.

Once you have the image exactly how you like, tap the round button in the center to snap the photo. You can then open Google Photos to share your newly-snapped portrait mode picture.

Obvious improvement

The improvements made on the Essential camera are impressive. Adding the portrait mode might not seem like a deal maker, but once you start using this feature, especially for highlighting products or other aspects of your business, you’ll see just how effective it can be.

It’s time to set aside your concern for the Essential camera experience. Although it may not be perfect, it’s come a very long way in a very short time. Portrait mode does a great job of proving that.