Macro photography is the practice of taking photos or videos of small objects at close range. Some models of iPhone are better suited to macro photography, with lenses that are designed specifically for focusing at close range. Here’s what you need to know.
Which iPhone Models Support Macro Photography?
The iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max models launched in late 2021 with a brand new “professional” camera system that includes a reworked ultra-wide lens. This includes the ability to focus at a distance of only 2cm from your subject, vastly reduced from 10cm on previous models.
This is the first iPhone model that Apple has touted as being capable of macro photography, and it works in both photo and video modes. While older models still have much higher minimum focus distances, you may still get passable results especially if you crop your photo afterward, but the minimum focus distance will hamper your efforts.
Apple has built support for macro photography right into the native iOS Camera app so that macro mode should automatically “just work” when you’re close to your subject.
Point and Shoot
If you have an iPhone 13 Pro or another model with macro support, you can shoot photos at close range using the default “Photo” or “Video” modes by simply pointing and shooting. This isn’t immediately obvious, and no “macro” icon appears on-screen to let you know that you’re shooting in macro mode.
If you’re any closer than the minimum focus distance of 2cm then your subject may be blurry. As you move your device close to an object you should see the viewfinder’s perspective shift to that of the ultra-wide lens. There’s currently no way to change this automatic shifting beyond using a different app for shooting photos and videos.
If you want to ensure that you’re always in macro mode then you can tap on the “.5” toggle next to the shutter to select the ultra-wide lens. This can be handy in situations where you don’t trust the camera app to switch to the correct lens. An example would be when shooting reflective or transparent surfaces, like raindrops on a window.
Once you’ve shot a photo you can view it in the Photos app and tap on the “i” information button to see more information about the image. Macro images should be listed as using the “Ultra Wide Camera” alongside whatever ISO, shutter speed, and aperture the camera deemed necessary at the time.
Use Third-Party Apps for More Control
Apple’s Camera app is fine, but it lacks many features that power users may be looking for. Third-party apps like Manual, ProCam, and FiLMiC Pro can take advantage of the ultra-wide lens improvements too, and also provide greater control over exposure and focus if that’s what you’re looking for.
The ability to lock focus as close as possible can help you get the most out of your iPhone’s macro functionality. With focus locked, you can move the iPhone backward and forward to find the sweet spot where your subject is perfectly in focus.
For even better results (especially in low light) use a tripod to keep your device perfectly still and use a remote trigger like an Apple Watch or a pair of wired earbuds to fire the camera shutter.