Get The Most Out Of The Built-In iPhone Camera App

iPhone Camera UI
Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 4.27.19 PM

You can buy lots of apps that will extend your iPhone camera’s capabilities, but for most people, the built-in app that comes with the iPhone is more than adequate.

Some of the iPhone camera’s special features, like Deep Fusion (Apple’s new computational photography software) only work when you are using the built-in iPhone Camera App. So it makes sense to learn how to coax the best pictures you can from what you already have. And oh yeah, it’s free so why not start there?

The good news is the Apple Camera app comes as standard on all iPhones. It makes it very easy to capture very high-quality stills and video, right out of the box. A majority of the time, it will help you make photos that are fun, fast and easy.

Just because it’s free, don’t think it’s a lightweight.

Whether it’s panoramas, time-lapse or slow-motion video, portraits or landscapes, the iPhone Camera app has lots of built-in features that will help you make images which rival those coming from dedicated digital cameras.


There are many stand-out features on the built-in app. One of our favorites is Portrait mode. This lets you create stunning portraits that look like they were made in a studio. You can simulate lighting effects, and even shoot in black and white. You can automatically photograph your subjects against a white or black background, no matter what they happen to be standing in front of. This is one of the many computational photography features on the iPhone that make it the most popular camera in the world.

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 2.51.19 PM

People who are lucky enough to own an iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, XS, XS Max, or XR, will find Portrait mode even more powerful.

You can blur the background on any photo from an iPhone with Portrait mode but on these newer iPhones, you can control the strength of the background blur. Owners of iPhone 7 Plus, 8 Plus phones will need to purchase third-party apps to make such an adjustment and in the coming weeks, we’ll profile many such apps. But for now, back to the Apple app…


With the advent of iPhone 11, there is a new low-light camera capability that makes the iPhone a better choice than some interchangeable lens cameras if you are making pictures at night. Again, computational photography makes it possible to capture vibrant colors and lots of detail without unpleasant digital noise and without making the photograph look like it is fake.

iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro turn on Night mode automatically when the camera detects low-light situations. The Night mode icon at the top of the display turns yellow when the feature is active.


The built-in Camera app also has a variety of additional features you might explore.

For instance – Pano mode is used for capturing ultra-wide panoramic photos.

Using the Live Photo option lets you create spectacular moving images that bring your photos to life.

Screen Shot 2019-10-29 at 4.28.41 PM

You can manually focus iPhone by simply tapping anywhere on the image preview and thus make sure the area you want is sharp and in focus.

It’s easy to use the app to adjust exposure.

Sliding the shutter button left turns on burst mode. It’s great for capturing action shots.


If you have any of the iPhones with a dual or triple-lens, you can easily switch between lenses and zoom in and out using the Wide, Ultra Wide, and Telephoto Lenses. (Three lenses on iPhone 11 models and up.)


The iPhone Camera app is a full-featured, photography tool that will accomplish most of the things that you need. Some advanced features require a third-party app, but before you spend money on anything else, make sure you study the features of the free iOS Camera app and make sure you are getting what you paid for.

There are occasions when advanced photographers will want to manually adjust shutter speed, ISO, or white balance. That’s where third-party camera apps come in and in a future post, we’ll discuss our favorites.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on google

Scott Bourne

Scott Bourne (ASINWP) is a professional wildlife photographer, filmmaker, author and lecturer who specializes in birds. He’s been involved with photography for more than four decades and his work has appeared in more than 200 publications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

person holding iphone taking photo of white and blue lighted christmas tree
Doug Daulton

What is a Mobile Creator?

We serve mobile creators. But, what exactly is that? What is it now? How will that role be defined in the future? Let’s explore the answer.

Dr. Clyde Huston family on front porch of their home 1907
Doug Daulton

Memories Of Quarantine

“Porch Portraits” are becoming a thing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they come with inherent problems. Here are a few ways to scratch that itch while staying safe.