Your iPhone has a powerful camera. But do you know how to take full advantage of your iPhone camera settings?
In this article, we’ll show you 11 iPhone camera settings that will change the way you take photos.
11. Adjust the Focus
The iPhone has a large depth of field. This means it’s good at keeping both the foreground and background sharp. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to focus anymore. If you don’t, you might end up with a blurry image you can’t use.
Whenever you take photos with your device, don’t press the shutter button right away. Instead, tap the subject you want to be sharp and wait for a white box appears.
Don’t remove your finger from the screen until the square turns yellow. Once it does, that means it has locked its focus and you can take a photo.
Sure, it sometimes takes a moment to focus on your subject. But at least it guarantees you’ll have a sharp photo in the end. Make a habit of tapping that screen before you place your finger on the camera button.
10. Set the Exposure Manually
Your iPhone automatically adjusts the exposure for you. But it won’t get it right all the time. What should you do when this happens?
The answer is to use the Exposure Slider. This tool lets you override your iPhone’s exposure settings and adjust it yourself.
You can use the Exposure slider for a variety of reasons. The most crucial is using it to correct the brightness. But you can also over/underexpose your shots to achieve specific effects such as the silhouette you see in the photo above.
Finding the Exposure Slider only appears when you tap on the screen to select a focusing area. So make sure you see that white box before you could make any adjustments.
Once the white box appears on the screen, a sun icon also pops up beside it. When the square turns yellow, move your finger up or down to change the exposure.
You’ll see the scene darken or brighten in real-time so you know how much you need to adjust.
9. Take Advantage of Gridlines
Some beginner photographers find composition to be difficult. And it can be especially challenging to explain composition. It’s not a physical skill you can learn.
Thankfully, there are easy composition guides you can follow such as the Rule of Thirds.
By dividing the frame into a 3 x 3 grid, the Rule of Thirds shows you where to place your subject in the photo. Following this guide should be easy enough, but what if you can’t imagine the lines in your head?
The good news is, you have the grid lines as one of the iPhone camera settings to help you nail the shot. Once you activate them, they’ll show up on the screen right in front of the scene you want to photograph.
All you have to do is position your main subject wherever any of those lines in the grid intersect, and that’s it!
8. Elevate Your Image with Filters
Like most people, there’s a good chance you use Instagram/VSCO filters a lot more than the ones your iPhone offers. But using your native app to edit the hues of your photos does have a few advantages over third-party apps.
The first advantage is that you can use iPhone filters even when you’re in Live Mode. That means you can apply your favorite preset in real time while taking pictures.
First, open the camera app and tap the icon with three overlapping circles at the top right corner of the screen. Then, all you have to do is choose from dozens of available selections and start taking pictures!
The Photos app also lets you change the preset of your image at any time without affecting its quality. To do this, go to the Photos app and tap the icon with the three circles. Next, select from a dozen filter options to replace the one you already have.
Unlike third-party apps, it doesn’t overlay a filter over the one you already applied earlier. That way, you don’t end up with an over-saturated photo with unnatural colors.
7. Burst Mode
Getting the timing right when you’re taking photos can be challenging when you have a moving subject.
So how do you make sure you don’t miss the moment as it happens? Well, you can either hold your breath and hope you press the shutter at the right instant… or you can use Burst Mode.
You don’t have to change any of your iPhone camera settings to activate the Burst Mode. All you have to do is press and hold the shutter button.
Your device will then keep taking photos as long as your finger touches the screen.
You can use Burst Mode for action shots where movements happen quickly. But you can also try it when taking candid photos where you capture moments as they arise.
6. Use the Self-Timer
Another very useful iPhone camera settings is the self-timer. You can use it for different purposes such as taking self or group portraits. But you can also activate it when shooting landscapes or nighttime photos to prevent camera shake.
You’ll find the iPhone’s self-timer at the top right area of the screen. Once you tap it, it will show you the 3-second and the 10-second timer options.
When shooting a self-portrait or a group photo, choose 10 seconds. Doing so gives you enough time to get into the frame before the shutter goes off.
If you’re shooting landscapes and nighttime shots, the 3 second option works fine.
If you think you’ll be using the self-timer a lot, consider bringing at least a mini tripod with you. That way, you don’t have to worry where you can prop up your phone while shooting.
5. Choose an Aspect Ratio with the Crop Tool
In the age of social media, you can’t limit yourself to the rectangular 5:4 or 4:3 photos anymore. These days, you’ll need the flexibility to try a 1:1 square format and other aspect ratios as well. And the easiest way to do that is by using the crop tool.
First, open your photos app and choose the image you want to edit. Next, tap the crop tool (a square icon with arrows surrounding it). You can trim the file manually, but the easier way is to choose the aspect ratio you want, instead.
There are a variety of options when it comes to your selection of aspect ratios. The most common ones are 5:4, 5:3,4:3, and 3:2 for rectangular images.
For panoramic photos, your choices are 7:5 and 16:9. And if you want a square picture for Instagram, then pick 1:1.
4. Learn How to Use Photo, Square, and Pano
The downside is that cropping can decrease the quality of your files. To maintain iPhone camera resolution, choose the aspect ratio you want via shooting modes.
At the bottom of the screen, you can choose from Photo, Square, and Pano among others. The default setting is Photo, which produces 5:4 size images. For Instagram, pick the Square mode which has an aspect ratio of 1:1. And for 16:9, you can select Pano.
Your phone will then adjust the screen size on Live view to reflect the aspect ratio you prefer.
Unfortunately, if you still want to reduce your panorama photo from 16:9 to 7:5, you’ll need to use the crop tool. And the same goes with cutting down 5:4 images to 4:3 or 3:2.
Of course, the iPhone offers more shooting modes than the Photo, Square, and Pano. But we grouped them together because they’re the ones you’ll need if you don’t want to crop your images.
Sometimes, you’ll encounter conditions where neither automatic or manual adjustments will get you the correct exposure. Such situations often involve high-contrast lighting such as overcast scenes, sunrises, and sunsets.
Whenever you find yourself in tricky lighting conditions, make sure to turn on your HDR (high dynamic range) at the top of the screen. Activating it prompts your phone to take three photos with different exposure levels.
The first one is normal, while the next two are brighter and darker respectively.
Your device then composites them together to create a vivid image with the correct exposure.
2. Use Portrait Mode for Depth of Field Effect
One impressive feature that iPhone 7 Plus and newer models have is the Portrait Mode. It allows you to take photos with blurry backgrounds by using its dual cameras as well as clever software.
To try the Portrait Mode, open your camera app and tap Portrait at the bottom of the screen. The camera automatically then detects the background and blurs it.
If the app tells you that you’re too close to the camera, move until you’re at the proper distance.
Unfortunately, iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus camera settings lack the Portrait Mode. But if you want to try bokeh in your photos, you can opt for third-party apps such as Tadaa SLR, instead.
1. Adjust Portrait Lighting
In Portrait Mode, you also get to change the lighting in your photo through Portrait Lighting. By tapping the screen, you can make your image look like you took it in a stage or even a studio.
To use Portrait Lighting, you first need to select Portrait Mode in the camera app. You’ll find the following lighting effects at the lower part of the screen:
- Natural Light
- Studio Light
- Contour Light
- Stage Light
- Stage Light Mono
If you don’t want to add any lighting effects, then choose the default iPhone setting Natural Light. To create moody portraits, you can try Contour Light. On the other hand, if you want professional-looking results, you can select Stage or Studio Light, instead.
The iPhone’s camera evolves all the time. So always take your time to learn about the new features your device offers and how to use them effectively.
Remember that there’s almost no limit with what you can do when you combine photography skills with technology.