Latest update brings more amazing functionality to your iPhone camera
One of the most exciting benefits of iPhone photography is each iOS version upgrade. This article provides 25 of the most relevant and powerful hidden features
Your iPhone is now an even more impressive and capable camera for photo enthusiasts and businesses wanting to capture their memories and communicate their stories.
- Hidden, secret camera level
- New camera filters
- Camera filters shortcut access
- New space saving photo and video file format
- Select a still image from a Live Photo
- Trim the start and end of Live Photos
- Loop your Live Photo - never-ending video
- Bounce your Live photo – similar to Boomerang
- Long exposure image – using Live Video effect
- Send Live Photos to Android users as a GIF
- Portrait mode hides the normal photo – how to find it
- Portrait mode now allows the flash
- Portrait mode optical image stabilisation (OIS)
- Portrait mode now allows HDR
- Some 3D touch options are available to everyone
- More flashlight control for fill-in light
- Magnifier for close up photos
- Capture a photo during a Facetime call
- New file manager app to access all your cloud storage
- QR code scanner built into the camera
- Drag and drop images to re-arrange in the album
- Document scanner and signature annotation built into the camera
- Screen record on your iPhone
- Invert colours
BONUS TIPS – previous secret, hidden features
- Tap the screen to set the area to focus
- Long press the screen to lock the focus
- Swipe up or down to increase/decrease the brightness
- Capture an image pressing the volume minus on the iPhone and earphones
- Hold your finger on the shutter button to capture a burst of images
Related: eBook 'Get the most out of your iPhone and iPad camera - 2019'
Let’s get straight into them..
1. Hidden Camera Level
If you take photos from above for that top-down perspective - you are going to love this little known iOS 11 hidden feature.
You can now hold your iPhone parallel to the ground and move it slightly until the two sets of cross-hairs combine to indicate that you are perfectly level.
To access this feature – you need to enable the grid feature that is normally associated with rule of thirds, placing a four line overlay across the screen. Enable the grid, by going into Settings – General – Camera – Grid.
This is also handy for scanning or taking photos of artwork from directly above. The problem with having a slight off-set angle, is that objects closer to the lens look bigger. Hence, why photographing a symmetrical piece of paper, needs to be from directly above.
2. New Camera Filters
I must admit, I am not a great fan of live filters. That said, the Mono filter is great for looking at your surroundings in real time as black and white. This gives you a real appreciation of how light bounces and absorbs in different scenarios. You will notice that you now have a couple of new filters, Vivid and Dramatic. Filters are not available on the iPad - you can stop looking for it!
You can even access these new filters in portrait mode on the iPhone 7 Plus.
3. Quick access to Camera filters
You can still access the filters, tapping the icon on the top of the screen. Additionally, you can swipe up in the image and reveal the filmstrip of filters at the bottom of the screen.
Remember, don’t tap the screen first. If you do, when you swipe up – the screen will increase in brightness. So confusing..
4. New file formats – HEIF and HEVC
Quite a lot has been reported about the new file format. In essence, it is a new file compression that retains all the data and saves a lot of space on your iPhone.
The new photo format High-Efficiency Image Format replaces Jpeg images and is said to save twice as much space and sync faster with iCloud. Go to Settings – Camera – Format. If your device does not display Format, then it is not compatible. When you tap the share icon, it will share a Jpeg to avoid any conflict issues.
High-Efficiency Video Coding saves up to 40% of video space and still has the file extension .mov. You will most likely not notice any difference at all – however, is going to be necessary as more of us are shooting in 4K resolution.
5. Select a still image from Live Photos
Unless you make use of the burst feature (holding the shutter button down), then capturing the perfectly timed photo can be a bit hit and miss. We can now tap on the Edit icon, drag the white photo frame along the film strip to the exact image you want. Release your finger and tap Make Key Photo and Done to select the perfect image!
This iOS 11 hidden feature allows you to select the exact action shot. The resolution does drop a little from 3024x4032 to 2744x3662 (iPhone 7). This is not a significant drop in quality – as you can still print 9x12 inches in higher print 300dpi quality.
6. Trim Live Photos
One of the issues I have had in the past with Live Photos, is that I forget that I have it. Consequently, I have many Live Photo recording of my picking up the iPhone, taking a photo and lowering it again. Now, we can trim the start and finish of the Live Photo.
Tap on the Edit icon, press either end of the slider and drag it to where you wan the new start and finish to be. Tap Done to finish and save a new Live Photo. Similar to photo filters, you can tap on revert to return to the original Live Photo.
7. Loop your Live Photo
This is another hidden feature that you would only discover by accident. Go to Photos, select the Live Photo then swipe up. This accesses a new feature Effects. Tap on Loop to watch the Live Photo play over and over similar to a GIF, displaying a dissolving transition between each repetition.
8. Bounce your Live Photo
Are you familiar with Boomerang – the Instagram feature where the image bounces back and forth, playing forward then reverse, forward, reverse and never ends! Similar to Loop – access this effect by swiping up on the Live Photo in Photos.
9. Long exposure on the iPhone
This is my favourite iOS 11 hidden feature!
Now, you can achieve a similar result using Live Photos. Similar to the loop and bounce effects, you can select long exposure. This can create really visually stunning images, where the subject is blurred against a still background or visa versa.
10. Send Live Photos to Android users as a GIF
Previously, when you sent a Live Photo to an Android user, they would receive a still image. Before you get too excited – the Live Photos needs to have one of the effects (bounce or loop) applied and you need to use the Mail app. However, your Live Photo will be received as a GIF. Sending to another iPhone user as a Live Photo will still require using iMessage.
11. Hidden normal photo in Portrait mode
You can no longer select to keep the normal photo. It is, however still there and taking up space on your phone! I personally, don’t understand why you would want to keep it.
To access the original, go to Photos – select the image – Edit – then tap on the Depth icon at the top of the image. This reveals the original. Tap done and it will stay as the original. Similar to filters, this can be reversed by tapping the Depth icon again..
12. Portrait mode flash
One of the real struggles previously with the Depth effect mode was low light. You would receive an on-screen warning and the result would be very noisy, grainy and blotchy. Now, you can turn on the flash and introduce light to give yourself a much better chance at Portrait mode working. Prior to this update, I have been using the torch on a second smartphone to introduce lighting. That has worked so well, that I will likely still use this technique.
13. Portrait mode OIS
Smartphones have historically struggled in low light conditions. This is because, well they are small and have a tiny sensor inside. To achieve a useable image in low light, the camera slows down (shutter speed) to let more light in to the sensor. Inevitably any camera movement results in a blurry image. You have captured those images! The new optical image stabilisation (OIS) helps reduce this negative effect and is always on – so you don’t have to even think about it.
14. Portrait mode HDR
Another standard feature that was disabled in previous iOS versions. During my in-person workshops and speaking opportunities, I always ask the audience what HDR stands for. Every single time – they start off confident saying High Definition then taper off and quietly say Resolution. No, no it stands for High Dynamic Range. This feature does not magically create a higher resolution image. In some circumstances, it can definitely create a much better result. When turned on or the auto activates, the iPhone captures three images capturing different lighting in the image and blends the best of all three to create an image similar to what our eye interprets. The biggest advantage is that you can see the clouds, instead of just a white background. Now, you have this fantastic feature available in Portrait mode.
15. 3D Touch within Control Centre
If like me, you don’t have an iPhone with 3D touch – we can now use this feature on some apps that you add to the Control Centre.
Anyone can now 3D touch (long press) the camera icon to instantly be able to select between Take Selfie, Record Video, Record Slo Mo and Take Photo. This also works with the flashlight.
My favourite smartphone food photography tip is to avoid using the flash! My recommendation is to use the torch on a second phone as a fill-in light. You can move it closer for harsher shadows, away for softer light and hold it at different angle.
Once you add the flashlight to the control centre – you can 3D touch (long press) on the flash icon to access the torch intensity. Previous iOS had a light sensitivity up to three bars – which has remained as the default. Now you tap on the forth bar to achieve a higher intensity
Your iPhone camera can now zoom in really close to subjects using the magnifier feature. The normal camera needs to be a certain distance before it can no longer focus. The easiest way to access this feature is to add it to the Control Centre. Enter the Settings – Control Centre – Customise Controls – then tap the + next to Magnifier.
Now in the Control Centre – tap on the magnifier symbol to access. You will notice that you cannot hold the camera lens any closer, however the slider allows you to zoom very close. Experiment with the filters and torch (flash symbol), then tap the capture button to create a an image review. If you want to keep the image – you will need to take a screenshot by simultaneously holding the power and home button.
This is not really a tool that many iPhoneographers would consider. However, I am using this all the time now. In day two of my free smartphone photography course, I talk about where to find inspiration to grow your creativity. When I discover an image I love, I capture a screenshot and take advantage of the new feature to markup (draw) on the image.
Simply hold down the power and home button at the same time. Swipe the new thumbnail at the bottom of the screen to quickly save or tap to access an editor providing a range of pencils, colours and shapes to highlight or add to the content. You can also pinch and zoom before tapping done to save the screenshot. There is also a + icon where you can add text, a gimmicky magnifying glass and a signature!
19. Capture photos during FaceTime
Initially, my reaction was why? Then, someone pointed out to me that you can have someone showing you something or someone special during a FaceTime call and you can take your own happy snap right there and then. We have been able to do this previously capturing a screenshot – however, this option makes it more convenient.
This works exactly the same way as taking a still image during a video and it will also record the image at a lower video recording resolution.
A couple of negatives though, both users need to have IOS 11 and the Live Photo does not record any audio. Additionally, and this is not a negative – both parties in the FaceTime call will see a notification that a photo was captured.
Want to avoid your photo being taken? Go to Settings – Facetime – and uncheck FaceTime Live Photos.
20. File Manager App
This fantastic app allows you to quickly access all your files stored on most third-party cloud storage services, including Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc. I have personal and business photos stored in various online and offline locations. This is a quick way to access most of my photos.
21. QR Scanner built into the camera
Quick Response (QR) codes have not really become popular in the past because you needed a QR reader. Not anymore – scan the graphic directly using the native camera app and the iPhone will be prompted to do the assigned task.
I use an app Visual Codes by Benjamin Mayo Say to produce my QR graphics to access my Get Started webpage, Email Mike and Connect to my Wi-Fi. This is really handy for in-person workshops where attendees do not have data. They can use my hotspot without me having to supply the password.
22. Drag and drop photos to re-arrange the order in the album
Can you believe we had to wait this long for this feature? Now, it is here and we can actually organise photos to appear in the exact order that we want to display them.
NOTE: This only works in Albums that you have created. You can do this by tapping on the + symbol on the top left. Add the photos you want, then long press on an image and drag it to between two images. Pause until the two images separate and leave space for you to let go of your finger and drop the photo.
23. Scanner and annotation in Notes
Another feature that is not directly related to photo enthusiasts. For professional photographers, this is a great feature. You can now scan a ‘model release’ form in your Notes app and have your subject sign directly on your iPhone.
It is a little tricky to use. I’m sure a newer update will be better. Create a new note in the Notes app – tap + icon – Scan Documents - take the photo – drag the corners – Keep Scan – Save. Next, tap on the actual scan – Share icon – swipe right to locate Markup – tap + icon, then Signature. The benefit of using this option instead of the pencil, is that you can move and resize the signature to fit the form and even duplicate it without having to repetitively sign. Tap done, then the share icon to select Create PDF.
24. Screen Record on your iPhone
Another feature that is not directly related to photography – however, I am going to be using this in my photography regularly. I will be able to conveniently and efficiently record photo editing tutorials and talk through composition while setting up a photograph.
You can now record the screen and your voice as you do anything on your iPhone. This is a fantastic feature that Apple appear to have been reluctant to release for a long, long time. This hidden feature is accessible via Settings – Control Centre – Customise Controls and tap the + icon next to Screen Recording. Enter the Control Centre and locate the circle with the dot inside. Long press this icon to turn on the Microphone Audio. Tap start recording and it will start a three second timer to access what ever you are recording. At the end, tap on the red bar at the top of the screen. You can use the normal video editor to trim the start and finish of the recording, while you become familiar with the controls.
25. Invert colours
This is not a new feature – however, there is a new smart invert feature. I am concentrating on the older method that is now called Classic Invert. Have you found yourself outside on a sunny day photographing something really bright like a sandy beach. It is near impossible to see the screen and set up the image.
With the recent addition of True Tone, Night Shift and now Smart Invert – I just ask Siri to “Invert colours”. Give it a try when you are outdoors. It will just look really weird when you are inside. Point it at the bright sky and you will see the temporary benefits to help achieve that photo that may otherwise not have been captured.