How to use the iPhone camera’s built-in manual controls

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Manual control can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Manual control can be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

For most photos, the iPhone camera proves perfectly adequate. You just hold up your phone, point it, and shoot. The exposure and focus are almost always correct, or at least correct enough. But on occasion, you need to take control.

For instance, maybe that beautiful dark blue sky keeps getting washed out because the iPhone insists on correctly exposing the face of the human in the foreground, when you’d prefer to see the person in silhouette. (Or vice versa.) Or perhaps the iPhone insists on focusing on that tree in the foreground, instead of the person half-hidden behind it?

Both of these can be fixed using the manual controls built right into the iPhone’s own Camera app. They’re pretty well-hidden, so you might never have even noticed them. But rest assured, they are there — and they are very easy to use!

Best add-on lenses for your iPhone

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Add-on lens feature image
iPhone add-on lenses are a bonus for iPhonographers who crave creative variety from their iPhone cameras.
Photo: Amir

For a huge percentage of mobile photographers — from amateur snappers to creative artists — the iPhone is the camera you always have with you. Every iPhone packs an undeniably great camera. But, as with DSLRs or mirrorless cams, the more you shoot, the more variety you crave.

Swapping out lenses at will helps you create a vast mélange of visual adventures with your iPhone. Our roundup of the best iPhone lenses shows you how to find the right external lens or lens kit for your needs.

Get in on the new Oilist 2.0 beta right now

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Oilist 2 can pop out some startling results.
Oilist 2 can pop out some startling results.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

You may remember Oilist, a iOS app that takes your photos and turns them into paintings. This isn’t your usual lame-o filters app, either. Oilist actually makes images that really do look like they’ve been painted — with brushwork, paint texture, and more.

And now, the developer is working on version 2.0 of this great app, and he wants you to help.

How to add extra filter packs to the iPhone’s Photos app

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filter packs iPhone
Captured, edited, and filtered, all inside the Camera and Photos apps.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

One lesser known ability of the Photos app on your iPhone is that is can use third-party filter packs. If you install a photo-editing app that supports them, then you can apply that apps filters without ever leaving the Photos app. This makes it super quick to add sophisticated effects to your pictures, and you can revert to the original photo at any time in the future.

Today we’ll see how to use these filter packs, and look at a couple of great apps that have them.

Pro Tip: One-tap scroll back to the bottom of the camera roll

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scroll photos
Ever scroll to the top of your photos by mistake? Don't worry.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

Pro Tip Cult of Mac bug Ever tap the top of the screen in your Photos library and find yourself looking at pictures from way back in 2005? Did you swipe something the wrong way and end up stranded, viewing photos from years ago?

You probably sighed to yourself, then set to scrolling back to the bottom of the list to get to your latest photos. Big, angry swipes, just to show your iPhone how mad you were.

Well, after today, you’ll never need to to that again, because there’s a shortcut to scroll back to the very bottom of your Photos camera roll.

How to use Portrait Mode on iPhone X and 8

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iPhone 8 Plus portrait lighting camera
Portrait Lighting can make a movie star out of almost anyone. Almost.
Photo: Ste Smith/ Cult of Mac

Portrait mode is an iPhone 7 feature that has been supercharged in the iPhones X and 8, with the addition of Portrait Lighting. Both features use depth data from these iPhones’ dual cameras, either to separate the subject of the photo from its background, or to completely re-light the photo to add drama. Here’s how to make the most of them.

How to create long-exposure effects with iPhone

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long exposure sea
Long exposures turn moving water into creepy mist.
Photo: Charlie Sorrel/Cult of Mac

One of the neatest tricks you can do with a standalone camera is the long exposure trick. You may have seen it used to turn the tail-lights of a car into long streaks of red curving through the dark behind a ghostly car, or to blur turbulent waters into a peaceful, misty-looking lake. In a regular camera, you have to finagle the shutter speed to get the level of blur just right, and there’s no second chance. On the iPhone, it’s way easier.

Best iPhone X and iPhone 8 camera accessories

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8_Roundup_Camera
The new iPhone 8 and X cameras are incredible. These accessories make them even better.
Photo: Moment

The iPhone’s camera is good enough that it can be most people’s only camera — including professional photographers. The iPhone is a multi-purpose computer, though, not just a camera, so it can sometimes do with a little help when it comes to ergonomics, or to adding a little extra reach with a telephoto lens. These are the iPhone 8 camera gizmos you should buy: