Getting to Know the iPhone Camera

Learning the Fundamentals

It’s now down to just a couple of days before I depart on my business trip to Monaco (with a brief stop-over in Thailand) and I am standing firm on my decision to leave my camera kit at home. In my previous blog – I’m Not Taking My Camera With Me, I outlined the reasons for this decision and listed the pros and cons. 

Despite the decision to leave my camera at home and rely on my iPhone Camera, I still want to give myself the best opportunity to capture images I will be happy to post and share. Of course that means I need to spend a bit of time getting to know how to use the iPhone Camera and the range of advanced features that it offers. 

iPhone Camera Basic SettingsiPhone Camera Settings

The best place to get started was to set up a few basic settings that will assist me in capturing the best quality images. The first feature I turned on was the Grid. This will assist in ensuring your horizons are straight in the image.

The Formats settings allow you to choose between JPEG and the new High Efficiency (HEIF) format. The HEIF format captures more image quality information with about the same image size as a JPEG. I set my camera to capture images in the HEIF format.

The good news is when you send your images to your social media platform, the iPhone automatically creates a JPEG copy to export – nothing for you to do.

The last setting to explore is the Auto HDR setting. I turned this on, so every image is captured in HDR – that is 3 images are taken and combined in camera in an effort to capture a wider range of tones in the image. This can assist in overcoming the dynamic range limitations of the iPhone’s small image sensor.

You can also choose to keep the non-HDR images that are blended by enabling the Keep Normal Photo feature.

iPhone Camera Shooting Modes

The iPhone Camera offers 4 basic image formats to choose from:

  • Photo – the standard camera mode
  • Portrait – (iPhone X, 7 Plus, 8Plus) Portrait mode uses the dual cameras to create a depth-of-field effect — letting you compose a photo that keeps your subject sharp with a blurred background. It also offers a range of lighting effects to apply studio quality lighting to your images.
  • Square – allows you to shoot a square image which is ideal for posting directly to Instagram
  • Pano – makes taking incredible high-quality panoramic pictures really easy without adding any additional apps to your iPhone.

There are a range of additional shooting features that are presented in the menu at the top of the camera screen. This include:

  • Flash – a new quad LED True Tone Flash with Slow Sync results in more uniformly lit backgrounds and foregrounds.
  • HDR – allows you to turn the HDR feature on and off. It will not be displayed if you have set Auto HDR on in the Settings.
  • Live Mode – This feature actually captures a 1.5 second video of your subject which allows you to select the actual frame you like. You can also use the Live Mode to create Long Exposure images such as movement in waterfalls.
  • Timer – Allows you to choose a 3 or 10 second delay before taking the image. The camera will actually take a burst of 10 images when using the timer. If you also turn the flash on, the camera will only take one image.
  • Filters – You can select from a variety of filter effects that will be applied to the image when you take the photo.

iPhone Waterfall

 

Focus and Exposure

The iPhone will do its best to select what it believes to be the main subject in your photo and adjust the focus and exposure to capture the subject correctly. If you would like to manually select the subject, simply tap on the subject in the screen and a small yellow box will appear. Once the box has appeared you can also adjust the Exposure Compensation by dragging your finger up and down on the screen. This will adjust the brightness of the exposure. If you press your finger on the subject and hold, the camera will lock the focus and the exposure, which can be confirmed by the AE/AF LOCK that appears on the top of the screen. This allows you to recompose your image to achieve a better composition. The Exposure Compensation also works with the Af/AE Lock on. 

A couple of final tips

You can also use the volume keys on the iPhone as the shutter button – very useful when trying to take selfies! You can also use your ear buds as a shutter release cable, pressing the volume keys on your earbud also acts as a shutter release. Pressing and holding the volume key will take bursts of photos. 

Final Verdict

Now that I have taken the time to explore the iPhone Camera and learn how to use the various features, I am quite impressed. It takes good quality photos and is quite simple to use. It is really the same as using a 12mega pixel point and shoot camera but doesn’t really compare to my Canon DSLR. Saying that, it still has all of the benefits that I described in the previous post. There is the ability to push the camera a bit further by using a third-party camera application. In my next post I will explore 2 Camera applications – Camera+2 and Lightroom CC (Mobile)

Stay tuned for Part 3 – Exploring 3rd-Party iPhone Camera Apps….Getting More Control

Would you like to learn how to shoot better images with your iPhone Camera? The Complete Pixel 1/2 – day iPhone Photography Workshop can get you up and shooting better iPhone images quickly.

 

 

 

 

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Brian Bird

Brian is an avid photographer and educator that enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience with others. His love of photography coupled with more than 25 years experience in teaching technology to technical & non-technical people has put him in an ideal position to pursue his passion of helping other photographers improve their photography skills and technique both in the field and in post production.
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