Infographic: 10 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Camera Could Do

How To  /  Photography
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In the elevator, the checkout line, (gulp) traffic: anywhere you look, people are staring at smartphones (assuming you’ve looked up from your own). By 2017, more than a third of the global population – 2.6 billion souls — will own a smart phone.[i]  And if the sheer number of digital photos projected for that year[ii] is any indication, a goodly number of us are using our phones’ built-in cameras.

I have an Apple iPhone 6 and use its camera as much as my Nikon DSLR because my smartphone’s with me 24/7, its camera app is super handy, and it produces pretty darned good pictures. Since there are nearly 100 million more like me in the U.S. alone[iii] I thought I’d do my part to help us up our iPhone photography game.

Infographic: 10 Things you didn't know your iPhone camera could do.

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1) Open the camera from lock screen

Photos are moments, and moments come quickly, so you need to be fast on the trigger. To immediately access your camera app from the iPhone lock screen, look for the camera icon in the bottom right corner, place your finger on it, and swipe up. Done.

2) Multiple shutter release options

Did you know the volume buttons on the side of your iPhone also serve as a shutter release buttons? Yep. Either one will work. The same can be done using headphones that have inline volume controls on the cable – kind of like the pros using a shutter release cable on a big DSLR. These options aren’t just convenient; they also help reduce camera shake. Next level: Bluetooth wireless shutter triggers, as found on some selfie sticks, or Bluetooth headphones with volume controls.

3) Self-timer

iPhones offer two self-timer options for set-and-scramble photography: three- and ten seconds. Prop your camera on something sturdy, tap the timer icon on the upper right of the screen, then hustle. This feature is also useful for reducing camera shake if you’re shooting something still like a landscape or architecture.

4) Focus, exposure, exposure compensation

Tapping on your screen in camera mode produces a yellow square around that point. This doesn’t just set where you want to focus the image, but also sets the picture’s exposure, prioritizing whether it should be brighter or darker. A common scenario: shooting people with the sun at their backs. Normally, the camera would expose for the bright light, and you’d get silhouetted faces. But tapping their faces in advance sets the exposure for that area (bonus tip, iPhone’s auto-face recognition focuses on faces by default, so you don’t have to).

Fine tuning? The yellow vertical line with sunburst to the right of that square is an exposure compensation tool, used to further adjust exposure manually. Drag the sunburst up to make things brighter, or… you get the picture.

5) Lock focus + exposure

Sometimes you’ll want creative leeway to lock the focus and exposure in your scene. If you tap the screen – and this time hold your finger there – on a specific area, you’ll notice a “burst” of larger rectangles and a yellow “AE/AF LOCK” message on your screen. This action locks the exposure and the focus so that even if you move the camera around your scene, the exposure and focus remains where you tapped. To unlock them, simply tap anywhere on the screen.

6) Burst mode!

This feature — not to be confused with Beast Mode[iv]— is for capturing several images rapid-fire. Keep holding down the shutter button of your choice (see #2), and your iPhone will capture images over and over at its fastest frame rate — up to 10 photos per second. To view your burst shots, open your camera roll, tap Select, scroll through your series of shots, tap the ones you worth saving (you’ll see a check mark in lower right corner), then tap Done. An option will come up for you to save all the photos from your burst or just the ones you selected.

7) Rule of Thirds grid

We’ve covered basic photo composition guidelines in the past[v]; your iPhone camera can help you learn the Rule of Thirds by placing a 3×3 grid on the viewfinder. To turn it on: Settings > Photos & Camera> CAMERA header> Grid.

8) High Dynamic Range (HDR)

One press on the shutter release with this feature on, and the camera will shoot three photos at three different exposures, then blend the best of each into a single image that really pops. To set: at the top of your screen in camera mode, tap HDR and then Auto. (Auto means your camera will use HDR when it senses the moment is right.) To save the normally exposed shot in addition to the HDR version, too: Settings > Photos & Camera> Keep Normal Photo.

9) Panoramas

Time was, you needed a special camera, or a ton of skill and software to create a panorama picture. No longer. Here’s how: open the camera app, swipe left twice at the bottom of the screen to change modes to PANO. You’ll then see a small preview window that shows the slice of image being captured, along with a yellow line and an arrow. The line defines the width of the picture, and the arrow defines the direction in which you’ll need to pan the camera (you can switch this). The arrow moves as you move the camera, tracking where in the panorama you are. Keeping the arrow aligned with the line makes sure you have a smooth image capture; the camera will also give you text cues to slow down if you’re panning too fast. Press the shutter once to start the image capture, again to complete it. You can shoot up to a 240-degree image this way.

10) Filters & Post-processing

Did you know there are built-in filters on your iPhone that will apply effects as you shoot? Yes! In camera mode, tap the three overlapping circles in the bottom right corner, then choose your filter effect. If you get filter remorse, not to worry: find the photo on your Camera Roll, tap Edit, and change filters (or remove them entirely). Bonus: while in Edit, you can do all sorts of other enhancements, like adjust Light, Color, and B&W.

Happy Shooting!

Content by Daniel Evans, the Newbie Photographer
Infographic Design by Chea Yeam




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