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The way to use your smartphone digicam’s hidden options


This text was initially featured on Fashionable Images.

What could possibly be extra elementary to images immediately than our smartphone cameras? They’re ever-present, prepared in moments, and the expertise behind them makes it straightforward to seize nice images in most conditions. And but, I repeatedly encounter people who find themselves unaware of most of the core features of the built-in digicam app.

Smartphone digicam fundamentals lengthen past simply “push the large button.” Some instruments enable you to arrange the shot, and a few provide you with extra management over the publicity. A number of are simply plain handy or cool. Nevertheless, these options aren’t at all times straightforward to search out. That’s the place we are available in.

[ Related: “Make the most out of your iPhone’s back tap feature” ]

iOS 16 vs. Android 13

However first, for these examples, I’m utilizing the 2 telephones I’ve at hand: an iPhone 13 Professional working iOS 16 and a Google Pixel 6 Professional working Android 13. I’m additionally focusing simply on the built-in digicam apps; for much more handbook management, you could find third-party apps within the app shops. Most of the digicam options overlap between iOS and Android working methods, and it’s attainable that some is probably not obtainable on older fashions, or are accessible differently. Should you see one thing right here that doesn’t match with what you see, escape the handbook—I imply, search Google—and see if it’s obtainable for yours.

The way to quick-launch the digicam

Most individuals carry out the standard dance of unlocking the cellphone, discovering the digicam app, and tapping to launch it. By that point, the second you had been attempting to seize is likely to be gone. There are sooner methods.

On the iPhone’s lock display screen, swipe right-to-left to leap straight to the digicam app with out unlocking the cellphone in any respect. You may as well press the digicam icon on the lock display screen. On the Pixel, double-press the ability button from any display screen.

When the cellphone is unlocked, a number of extra choices can be found. On each telephones, press and maintain the digicam app icon to deliver up a menu of taking pictures modes, resembling opening the app with the front-facing selfie digicam lively.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
Press and maintain the Digital camera app icon to show some photograph mode shortcuts (iPhone 13 Professional at left, Pixel 6 Professional at proper). Jeff Carlson

I additionally like the flexibility to double-tap the again of the cellphone to launch the digicam. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Contact > Again Faucet and select Digital camera for the Double Faucet (or Triple Faucet) choice. In Android, go to Settings > System > Gestures > Fast Faucet > Open app and select Digital camera.

The way to use the amount buttons to set off the shutter

Should you miss the tactile suggestions of urgent a bodily shutter button, or if hitting the software program button introduces an excessive amount of shake, press a quantity button as a substitute.

On each telephones, urgent both quantity button triggers the shutter. Holding a button begins recording video, simply as should you maintain your finger on the digital shutter button.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
Press a quantity button to set off the shot for that tactile-camera expertise. Jeff Carlson

On the iPhone, you too can set the amount up button to fireplace off a number of photographs in burst mode: go to Settings > Digital camera > Use Quantity Up for Burst.

The way to alter the publicity & focus shortly

The digicam apps do a superb job of figuring out the right publicity for any given scene—should you neglect that “correct” is a loaded time period. You do have extra management, although, even when the interfaces don’t make it apparent.

On the iPhone

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
Press and maintain to lock publicity and deal with the iPhone. Jeff Carlson

On the iPhone, faucet anyplace within the preview to set the main target and meter the publicity degree based mostly on that time. Even higher (and it is a characteristic I discover that many individuals don’t find out about), contact and maintain a spot to lock the main target and publicity (an “AE/AF LOCK” badge seems). You’ll be able to then transfer the cellphone to regulate the composition and never threat the app mechanically resetting them.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
Drag the solar icon to regulate the publicity with out altering the main target lock on the iPhone. Jeff Carlson

As soon as the main target and publicity are set or locked, carry your finger from the display screen after which drag the solar icon that seems to the proper of the goal field to manually enhance or lower the publicity. A single faucet anyplace else resets the main target and publicity again to computerized.

On the Pixel

On the Pixel, faucet a degree to set the main target and publicity. That spot turns into a goal, which stays locked at the same time as you progress the cellphone to recompose the scene. Tapping additionally shows sliders you should utilize to regulate white stability, publicity, and distinction. Faucet the purpose once more to take away the lock, or faucet elsewhere to deal with one other space.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
The Pixel 6 Professional shows sliders for publicity, white stability, and distinction management if you faucet to meter and deal with an space. Jeff Carlson

The way to zoom with confidence

We consider “the digicam” on our telephones, however actually, on most fashionable telephones, there are a number of cameras, every with its personal picture sensor behind the array of lenses. So if you’re tapping the “1x” or “3x” button to zoom in or out, you’re switching between cameras.

Each time attainable, stick with these preset zoom ranges. The 1x degree makes use of the principle digicam (what Apple calls the “extensive” digicam), the 3x degree makes use of the telephoto digicam, and so forth. These are optical values, which implies you’ll get a cleaner picture because the sensor information the sunshine instantly.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
While you drag the digicam choice buttons, this zoom dial seems for an as much as 15x telephoto enhance. However should you’re not on the 0.5x, 1x, or 3x ranges, you’re sacrificing picture high quality for digital zoom. Jeff Carlson

However wait, what about utilizing the two-finger pinch gesture to zoom in or out? Or, you may drag left or proper on the zoom choice buttons to disclose a round management (iPhone) or slider (Android) to allow you to compose your scene while not having to maneuver, and even zoom means into 15x or 20x.

It’s so handy, however attempt to keep away from it if attainable. All these in-between values are calculated digitally: the software program is interpolating what the scene would seem like at that zoom degree by artificially enlarging pixels. Digital zoom expertise has improved dramatically over time, however optical zoom continues to be the best choice.

The way to change digicam modes shortly

Talking of switching, the digicam apps characteristic many alternative taking pictures modes, resembling Picture, Video, and Portrait. As an alternative of tapping or attempting to tug the row of mode names, on each iOS and Android, merely swipe left or proper in the midst of the display screen to change modes.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
Drag anyplace in the midst of the preview to change between taking pictures modes. Jeff Carlson

The way to use the grid & degree for stronger compositions

Whether or not you subscribe to the “rule of thirds” or simply need some assist holding your horizons degree, the built-in grid options are useful.

In iOS, go to Settings > Digital camera > Grid and switch the choice on. In Android, you may select from three forms of grids by going to the settings within the digicam app, tapping Extra Settings, and selecting a Grid Sort (resembling 3 x 3).

The grid on the iPhone, and a associated setting known as Framing Hints on the Pixel, additionally allow a horizontal degree. While you’re holding the cellphone parallel to the bottom or a desk, a + icon seems in the midst of the display screen on each fashions. As you progress, the cellphone’s accelerometer signifies if you’re not evenly horizontal by displaying a second + icon. Maneuver the cellphone in order that each icons line up to make sure the digicam is horizontally degree.

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
When the cellphone is held parallel to the bottom, a pair of + icons seems to point how degree it’s. Line them up for a degree shot. (iPhone proven right here.) Jeff Carlson

The way to management the flash & ‘Evening’ modes

Each digicam methods are nice about offering extra gentle in darkish conditions, whether or not that’s turning on the built-in flash or activating Evening mode (iOS) or Evening Sight (Android). The interfaces for controlling these are fairly minimal, although.

On the iPhone, faucet the flash icon (the lightning bolt) to toggle between Off and Auto. For extra choices faucet the carat (^) icon, which replaces the digicam modes beneath the preview with buttons for extra options. Faucet the Flash button to decide on between Auto, On, and Off.

On the Pixel, faucet the Settings button within the digicam app and, underneath Extra Gentle, faucet the Flash icon (one other lightning bolt).

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
The crescent moon icon signifies the Pixel 6 Professional is utilizing its Evening Sight mode. Jeff Carlson

The Pixel consists of its Evening Sight mode within the Extra Gentle class. When it’s enabled, Evening Sight mechanically prompts in darkish conditions—you’ll see a crescent moon icon on the shutter button. You’ll be able to briefly deactivate this by tapping the Evening Sight Auto button that seems to the proper of the digicam modes.

The iPhone’s Evening mode is managed by a separate button, which seems to be like a crescent moon with vertical stripes indicating a darkish aspect of the moon. Faucet it to show Evening mode on or off. Or, faucet the carat (^) icon after which faucet the Evening mode button to disclose a sliding management that allows you to select an publicity time past simply Auto (as much as 30 seconds in a darkish atmosphere when the cellphone is stabilized, resembling on a tripod).

Your smartphone camera has great hidden features—here’s how to find them
The yellow Evening mode button signifies that the present most publicity is ready for two seconds. Jeff Carlson

Put the enjoyable in smartphone fundamentals

As with each digicam—smartphone or conventional—there are many options that can assist you get the very best shot. Make sure you discover the app settings and the opposite buttons (resembling setting self-timers or altering the default side ratio) in order that when the time comes, you recognize precisely which smartphone digicam characteristic to show to.



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