How to use the hidden features of your smartphone camera

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What may very well be extra essential to images as we speak than smartphone cameras? It is at all times there, prepared in moments, and the know-how behind it makes it simple to take nice pictures in most conditions. Nonetheless, I recurrently meet people who find themselves unaware of the various fundamental features of the built-in digicam app.

The fundamentals of a smartphone digicam lengthen far past merely “urgent the large button”. Some instruments show you how to arrange the shot, and a few provide you with extra management over publicity. A number of are simple and handy. Nonetheless, these options aren’t at all times simple to search out. That is the place we come to.

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

iOS 16 vs Android 13

However first, for these examples, I am utilizing the 2 telephones I’ve available: the iPhone 13 Professional working iOS 16 and the Google Pixel 6 Professional working Android 13. I additionally focus solely on the built-in digicam apps; For extra handbook management, you’ll find third-party apps within the app shops. Many digicam options overlap between iOS and Android, and it is potential that a few of them will not be out there on older fashions, or will be accessed otherwise. In the event you see one thing right here that does not match what you see, crack the information – I imply, search Google – and see if it is out there to you.

rapidly launch the digicam

Most individuals do the standard dance of unlocking the cellphone, discovering the digicam app, and tapping to launch it. By then, the second you have been making an attempt to seize could also be over. There are sooner methods.

On the iPhone lock display, swipe from proper to left to go on to the digicam app with out ever unlocking the cellphone. You can too faucet the digicam icon on the lock display. In your Pixel machine, double press the Energy button from any display.

When the cellphone is unlocked, some extra choices can be found. On each telephones, press and maintain the digicam app icon to deliver up a listing of taking pictures modes, comparable to opening the app with the entrance dealing with digicam activated.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Press and maintain the digicam app icon to show some photograph mode shortcuts (iPhone 13 Professional on the left, Pixel 6 Professional on the best). Jeff Carlson

I additionally like the power to double-click a file Again From the cellphone to activate the digicam. On the iPhone, go to Settings > Accessibility > Contact > faucet Again and select Digicam for the double faucet (or triple faucet) choice. On Android, go to Settings > System > Gestures > Fast faucet > Open the app and select Digicam.

use the quantity buttons to function the shutter

In the event you miss the haptic suggestions of urgent the precise shutter button, or if urgent this system button creates a number of vibration, press the quantity button as a substitute.

On each telephones, urgent both quantity button triggers the shutter. Urgent the button begins video recording, simply as should you have been holding your finger on the digital shutter button.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Press the quantity button to begin the shot to expertise the haptic digicam. Jeff Carlson

On iPhone, you can too set the Quantity Up button to launch a number of pictures in burst mode: Go to Settings > Digicam > Use Quantity Up in Burst.

rapidly alter publicity and focus

Digicam apps do a fairly good job of figuring out the suitable publicity for any given scene — should you overlook that “acceptable” is a loaded time period. You’ve gotten extra management, although, even when the interfaces do not make it clear.

on iPhone

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Press and maintain to lock publicity and deal with iPhone. Jeff Carlson

On an iPhone, faucet anyplace within the preview to set focus and scale publicity based mostly on that time. Even higher (and this can be a function that I discover many individuals do not find out about), contact and maintain on a spot a lock Focus and publicity (“AE/AF LOCK” badge seems). You possibly can then transfer the cellphone round to regulate the configuration and never danger the app resetting mechanically.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Drag the solar icon to regulate publicity with out altering focus lock on iPhone. Jeff Carlson

When you alter or lock focus and publicity, carry your finger off the display and drag the solar icon that seems to the best of the goal field to manually improve or lower publicity. One click on elsewhere resets focus and publicity to automated mode.

on Pixel

On a Pixel, faucet some extent to regulate focus and publicity. This spot turns into a goal, and stays closed even whereas transferring the cellphone to recreate the scene. Clicking additionally shows sliders that you should utilize to regulate white steadiness, publicity, and distinction. Faucet the dot once more to take away the lock, or faucet some place else to deal with one other space.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
The Pixel 6 Professional shows sliders for publicity, white steadiness, and distinction management once you faucet the meter and deal with an space. Jeff Carlson

zoom in with confidence

We consider the “digicam” on our telephones, however actually, on most trendy telephones, there are a number of cameras, every with its personal picture sensor behind the lens meeting. So once you faucet the “1x” or “3x” button to zoom in or out, you are switching between cameras.

Each time potential, follow preset zoom ranges. Stage 1x makes use of the principle digicam (what Apple calls the “vast” digicam), Stage 3x makes use of the telephoto digicam, and so forth. These are optical values, which suggests you will get a clearer image as a result of the sensor data gentle immediately.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Whenever you drag the digicam choice buttons, this zoom dial seems to extend the telephoto as much as 15x. However should you’re not at 0.5x, 1x or 3x ranges, you are sacrificing picture high quality for digital zoom. Jeff Carlson

However wait, how about utilizing the two-finger pinch gesture to zoom in or out? Or you possibly can swipe left or proper on the zoom choose buttons to disclose a carousel management (iPhone) or a slider (Android) to allow you to configure your scene with out having to maneuver, and even methods to zoom in to 15x or 20x.

It is vitally handy, however attempt to keep away from it if potential. All these between the values ​​are numerically calculated: the software program distorts what the scene will seem like at this zoom degree by artificially enlarging the pixels. Digital zoom know-how has improved vastly over time, however optical zoom continues to be the most suitable choice.

rapidly swap digicam modes

Talking of switching, the digicam apps function many alternative taking pictures modes, comparable to photograph, video, and portrait. As an alternative of clicking or making an attempt to pull a row of mode names, on each iOS and Android, simply swipe left or proper in the midst of the display to modify between modes.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
Swipe anyplace in the midst of the preview to modify between taking pictures modes. Jeff Carlson

use grid and degree for stronger mixtures

Whether or not you subscribe to the Rule of Thirds or simply need some assist protecting your prospects degree, the built-in networking options come in useful.

On iOS, go to Settings > Digicam > Community and activate the choice. On Android, you possibly can select from three sorts of community by going to Settings within the Digicam app, tapping Extra settings, and selecting a community sort (comparable to 3×3).

The grid on the iPhone, and a associated setting referred to as Framing Hints on the Pixel, additionally permits the panorama airplane. Whenever you maintain the cellphone parallel to the ground or desk, a + image seems in the midst of the display on each fashions. As you progress, the cellphone’s accelerometer signifies you are not evenly horizontal by displaying a second + icon. Maneuver the cellphone in order that each icons line up to make sure the digicam is within the horizontal airplane.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
When the cellphone is parallel to the bottom, a pair of + symbols seems to point its degree. Line them as much as get the extent shot. (iPhone is proven right here.) Jeff Carlson

management the flash and “night time” modes

Each digicam programs are nice at offering extra gentle in darkish conditions, whether or not that is turning on the built-in flash or activating Night time Mode (iOS) or Night time Sight (Android). Nonetheless, the interfaces to regulate it are minimal.

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

On a Pixel cellphone, faucet the Settings button within the Digicam app, and underneath Extra Lights faucet the flash icon (one other lightning bolt).

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
A crescent moon icon signifies that the Pixel 6 Professional is utilizing its personal Night time Sight mode. Jeff Carlson

The Pixel features a Night time Sight mode within the Extra Gentle class. When enabled, Night time Sight prompts mechanically in darkish conditions – you will see a crescent moon icon on the shutter button. You possibly can quickly deactivate this by tapping on the Night time Sight Auto button that seems to the best of the digicam modes.

The iPhone’s night time mode is managed by a separate button, which appears to be like like a crescent with vertical stripes indicating a darkish facet of the moon. Faucet it to show night time mode on or off. Or faucet the carat image (^) and faucet the night time mode button to disclose a slider management that permits you to select an publicity time past simply automated (as much as 30 seconds in a darkish setting when the cellphone is steady, for instance in a tripod).

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
The yellow night time mode button signifies that the present most gentle is about to 2 seconds. Jeff Carlson

Put the enjoyable into your smartphone fundamentals

As with each digicam – smartphone or conventional – there are many options that can assist you get one of the best shot. Make sure you discover the app’s settings and different buttons (like setting self-timers or altering the default facet ratio) in order that when the time comes, you already know precisely which smartphone digicam function to modify to.