How to use the hidden features of your smartphone camera

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What may very well be extra vital to images right now than smartphone cameras? It is all the time there, prepared in moments, and the expertise behind it makes it straightforward to take nice photographs in most conditions. Nonetheless, I usually meet people who find themselves unaware of the various primary capabilities of the built-in digicam app.

The fundamentals of a smartphone digicam prolong far past merely “urgent the massive button”. Some instruments make it easier to arrange the shot, and a few offer you extra management over publicity. A number of are straightforward and handy. Nonetheless, these options should not all the time straightforward to seek 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 operating iOS 16 and the Google Pixel 6 Professional operating Android 13. I additionally focus solely on the built-in digicam apps; For extra handbook management, you will discover 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 obtainable on older fashions, or could be accessed differently. 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 obtainable to you.

The best way to rapidly launch the digicam

Most individuals do the same old dance of unlocking the telephone, discovering the digicam app, and tapping to launch it. By then, the second you had been making an attempt to seize could also be over. There are quicker methods.

On the iPhone lock display, swipe from proper to left to go on to the digicam app with out ever unlocking the telephone. You may also faucet the digicam icon on the lock display. In your Pixel gadget, double press the Energy button from any display.

When the telephone is unlocked, some extra choices can be found. On each telephones, press and maintain the digicam app icon to deliver up an inventory of taking pictures modes, corresponding to opening the app with the entrance going through 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 picture mode shortcuts (iPhone 13 Professional on the left, Pixel 6 Professional on the precise). Jeff Carlson

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

The best way to 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 whole lot 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 if you happen to had 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 start out the shot to expertise the haptic digicam. Jeff Carlson

On iPhone, it’s also possible to set the Quantity Up button to launch a number of photographs in burst mode: Go to Settings > Digital camera > Use Quantity Up in Burst.

The best way to rapidly regulate publicity and focus

Digital camera apps do a reasonably good job of figuring out the suitable publicity for any given scene — if you happen to neglect that “acceptable” is a loaded time period. You could have 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 give attention to iPhone. Jeff Carlson

On an iPhone, faucet wherever within the preview to set focus and scale publicity primarily based on that time. Even higher (and it is a function that I discover many individuals do not learn about), contact and maintain on a spot a lock Focus and publicity (“AE/AF LOCK” badge seems). You’ll be able to then transfer the telephone round to regulate the configuration and never threat the app resetting routinely.

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 regulate or lock focus and publicity, elevate your finger off the display and drag the solar icon that seems to the precise 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 telephone 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 give attention to 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 while you faucet the meter and give attention to an space. Jeff Carlson

The best way to zoom in with confidence

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

At any time when potential, keep on with preset zoom ranges. Stage 1x makes use of the principle digicam (what Apple calls the “extensive” digicam), Stage 3x makes use of the telephoto digicam, and so on. These are optical values, which suggests you may get a clearer image as a result of the sensor data mild instantly.

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
While you drag the digicam choice buttons, this zoom dial seems to extend the telephoto as much as 15x. However if you happen to’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 the right way 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 appear like at this zoom stage by artificially enlarging the pixels. Digital zoom expertise has improved drastically over time, however optical zoom continues to be the best choice.

The best way to rapidly swap digicam modes

Talking of switching, the digicam apps function many various taking pictures modes, corresponding to picture, video, and portrait. As a substitute of clicking or making an attempt to tug 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 wherever in the midst of the preview to modify between taking pictures modes. Jeff Carlson

The best way to use grid and stage for stronger combos

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

On iOS, go to Settings > Digital camera > Community and activate the choice. On Android, you possibly can select from three kinds of community by going to Settings within the Digital camera app, tapping Extra settings, and selecting a community kind (corresponding to 3×3).

The grid on the iPhone, and a associated setting known as Framing Hints on the Pixel, additionally permits the panorama airplane. While you maintain the telephone parallel to the ground or desk, a + image seems in the midst of the display on each fashions. As you progress, the telephone’s accelerometer signifies you are not evenly horizontal by displaying a second + icon. Maneuver the telephone 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 telephone is parallel to the bottom, a pair of + symbols seems to point its stage. Line them as much as get the extent shot. (iPhone is proven right here.) Jeff Carlson

The best way to management the flash and “evening” modes

Each digicam methods are nice at offering extra mild 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 manage 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 under the preview with buttons for extra options. Press the Flash button to decide on between Auto, On, and Off.

On a Pixel telephone, faucet the Settings button within the Digital camera app, and below 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 routinely in darkish conditions – you may see a crescent moon icon on the shutter button. You’ll be able to quickly deactivate this by tapping on the Night time Sight Auto button that seems to the precise of the digicam modes.

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

A smartphone camera has cool hidden features - here's how to find them
The yellow evening mode button signifies that the present most mild is ready 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 the perfect shot. You should definitely 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 understand precisely which smartphone digicam function to modify to.