7 Things You Didn’t Realize Your iPhone Camera Could Do


I don’t like the little red circle that appears on my settings icon whenever Apple releases a new operating system. I obediently update my phone whenever it pops up without paying much attention to the new features that might be included in the new iOS. Bye bye, red circle.

So, imagine my surprise when I went to take a picture, held the shutter button down a little longer than usual, and heard this: SNAP SNAP SNAP SNAP. What?! Did my iPhone just go into burst mode? I thought I had to use a separate app, like Fast Camera, to do that, but it seems that part of the iOS 7 update I had dutifully performed added that functionality straight to my camera. Sweet!

Most people don’t realize how many cool features are built right into their iPhone’s camera. When I discovered my phone’s new burst mode, I made it my mission to discover all the other hidden features of the iPhone camera. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far!

1. Burst Mode

Burst mode is a way to take multiple pictures in a short period of time. As long as you have iOS 7, you just need to hold down the white shutter button, instead of pressing and releasing like you would for a regular single photo. The result is multiple photos in quick succession – great for fast paced events like sports or for photographing children who may only smile at the camera for a split second.

You can then cull through the multiple photos and pick the perfect one. No more missing a magic moment! Just make sure you delete what you don’t need… all those near-copies sure fill up the space on your phone fast.

2. Turn on the Grid

If you are an avid photographer, you have probably heard about the rule of thirds. Instead of placing the subject of your photo smack dab in the middle of the frame, remembering the rule of thirds can turn your photo from basic to artistic. A little intentional composition goes a long way, and turning on the iPhone grid feature will make it even easier by giving you guiding lines.

This feature can be activated by going into “Settings,” then tapping “Photos & Camera,” then scrolling until you see “Grid” and tapping the slider to turn it on. Next time you open the camera, the grid lines will be there for you to use.


3. Panorama

In the iPhone 5 and 5C, the easy to use panorama photo setting will provide stunning outdoor photos, like this I took on a stormy day at an empty intersection. Open the camera app, and swipe to the left until you are in “Pano” mode. A yellow line and white arrow will appear in the middle of the screen. Tap the white shutter button and move the iPhone, following the guide of the arrow to make sure you are staying steady. When finished, tap the shutter button again.

If you have an older phone and not having panorama mode is a deal breaker for you, there are of course apps that make it easier, or you could sell it and treat yourself to a newer one that has this option built in. Your call!


4. Take Photos with the Volume Button or Earbuds

It can be hard to keep a steady hand while holding the camera and pressing the white shutter button on the iPhone screen. The result can be an out of focus or tilted photo.

Instead, hold the camera steady and simply use the volume buttons on the side of the phone – your fingers are already right there. If you’re wearing the official Apple earbuds, you can even press the middle of the headphone button when the camera is open to snap a photo.


5. Lock Autofocus/Exposure

When there is a lot going on within the photo frame, say a busy background and multiple subjects, your iPhone might keep refocusing on different parts of the picture. To lock in the autofocus and exposure, press and hold the screen until the yellow square flashes twice, then you’ll see a box that reads “AE/AF LOCK.” Then, either snap a photo or tap the screen again to turn off the auto lock.



6. View Your Photos on a Map

If you’re a traveler, or often look at a photo and think “Wait, where was that taken?” then this feature is for you. To use this, you first need to go to “Settings,” then “Privacy,” then “Location Services” and swipe the option “Camera” to turn it on – the toggle switch will turn green when it is on.

The best part? You can also open a map that will overlay your photos, so you can quickly see all of the cool places you’ve been throughout the country and the world! Here are some of my adventures in Pennsylvania last year, mapped out:


7. Take HDR Photos

When you have your camera app open and you’re ready to take a photo, you may have noticed the words “HDR Off” on the header next to the flash options. Ever use it? Maybe not, but you should!

HDR, or High Dynamic Range, takes two photos in quick succession at different exposures, then combines them. Use this setting especially when you aren’t crazy about the lighting or think the camera isn’t capturing what you are seeing with your own eyes. If your photo includes very bright and very dark components, HDR is for you. Just think, now your sunset photos or indoor shots that include a window are going to look brilliant!


These hidden features make it easier to capture special memories with professional looking photos. As the iPhone camera develops, I’m finding it less and less necessary to bring my bulkier camera to family parties and vacations. Like me, you were probably already impressed with all the features on your iPhone, and now you know seven more ways to take the best photos possible.

What tips or tools do you have for taking the best iPhone photos? Share your own secrets in the comments below!

Adrienne Erin is a freelance writer and designer from central Pennsylvania. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter or visit her blog to get in touch.


  1. Jodi says

    One thing I’ve noticed that a lot of people don’t know to do, is clean off the lens of the camera! So simple but makes a HUGE difference!

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