These features made me love the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera


What I want most from a smartphone camera is versatility, so I can be creative and have fun with it. The iPhone 13 Pro achieves this, and I wish you could enjoy the phone’s photo features the same way I did. Since its launch, I’ve been using the iPhone 13 Pro and have compared it to the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and iPhone 12 Pro, taking hundreds of photos and lots of videos along the way.

Here’s what I like most about it, and some tips on how you can do the same things with your phone.

Macro mode

The iPhone 13 Pro is the first iPhone with a dedicated macro photography mode, which uses the ultra-wide camera to focus on objects as close as 2 centimeters – wondering how to activate it? Don’t do it, because the iPhone does it automatically. In Photo mode, when you get close to something, the camera automatically switches to ultra-wide, which means you don’t have to do anything at all.

It is both useful and boring. This is useful because it speeds up and simplifies the process of macro shooting, but annoying because you won’t always want macro mode to be on, and there’s no way to turn it off just yet. It will come iOS 15.1 when it was released, however. The iPhone 13 Pro‘s macro mode has autofocus, so you can tap the screen to select the focal point, and it even works with video and the iPhone’s night mode.

The results can be surprising. While the shots aren’t from another world like the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s microscope camera, they’re much better compared to junk photos taken with a 2-megapixel macro camera found on many other sites. many other phones. Of course you can take pictures of anything in the house, but I had a lot of fun going out and seeing how close I could get to the bugs. The autofocus allows you to be fast, which is essential for this kind of photo.

You won’t be using this feature as often as the three main cameras, but it does something unique in comparison, adding another dimension to the iPhone 13 Pro’s camera. The best news is that despite auto-activation, it works great.

Kinematic mode

Arguably the new flagship feature of the iPhone 13 Pro, Cinematic Mode adds a blurry bokeh background effect to video, but intelligently knows when to automatically shift focus to a new subject, ready to give your shots. videos look similar to a professionally shot movie. It works with the main, wide-angle and telephoto camera and the selfie camera, which makes it very versatile.

Before you start, you need to know if you want to use the auto-recentering feature; other people have to be involved. It won’t automatically refocus on an object, but you can force it to do so by tapping the screen. He is able to recognize people and certain things, but not landscapes in general. For example, the video below, shot using the selfie camera, refocuses on vehicles with no problem.

This is the Cinematic mode of the iPhone 13 Pro using the selfie camera. You can adjust the focus manually and it will recognize the objects. It maintains focus on the subject very effectively and edge recognition is solid!
Apologies for my cup in the demo video.

– Andy Boxall (@AndyBoxall) 12 October 2021

Edge recognition is surprisingly efficient and looks quite natural at a glance. Look closely and you will see that he has some issues with my glasses when I move, but he seems to understand that my cap should be treated as part of my head. What I really like about Cinematic Mode is how much it encourages experimentation. The more you train with it, the better the results, and it’s a lot of fun.

Once you’ve shot the video, you can change the depth effect of the editing suite, which includes re-centering the camera. There is always a risk that this kind of feature will be too difficult to use, not efficient enough to be worth it, or too restrictive. Cinematic mode avoids this because it is simple to use (just press save), looks great most of the time, and can be used on its own or with other people and with all the cameras on the phone.

3x optical zoom

Beyond the 2x optical zoom of the iPhone 12 Pro, the 3x telephoto camera of the iPhone 13 Pro allows you to get even closer to your subject without any loss of quality. While phones like the The Galaxy S21 Ultra offers two different optical zoom levels, if you want to have a phone with only one level then 3x is an ideal point. It offers more creative possibilities than a 5x optical zoom, which tends to get a bit too close for normal use but has a bigger impact than a 2x optical zoom.

You probably already know how to activate it in normal Photo mode, where the 3x icon is clearly indicated at the bottom of the viewfinder window, but did you know that you can also use it in Portrait mode? Switch the camera to Portrait and you’ll see a 1x icon at the bottom left of the viewfinder window. Press to switch to 3x optical zoom mode. The iPhone’s portrait effect is superb, with very precise and natural edge recognition, which is only accentuated when you use it in combination with the 3x zoom.

Play around with the different portrait lighting effects, cropping, and filters to create photos that don’t look like they came from a phone. I used the rear camera to take the Portrait mode selfie in the gallery here, added the Contour Lighting effect, cropped to 3×2, and added the Black filter. It all only takes a few moments to do, but drastically alters the photo.

Use photographic styles

Photographic styles are a bit of a hidden feature, and while I’m not quite convinced how effective they are yet, they can change the look of your photos in a slightly different way than just applying a filter. To find them, tap the arrow icon at the top of the viewfinder to bring up the submenu at the bottom of the screen, then tap the icon that looks like multiple stacked windows.

Photographic styles on the iPhone 13 Pro.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

You have the option of using the standard view or switching to different filter style views called Rich Contrast, Vibrant, Warm, and Cool. Because this is a live view, you can see how each parameter changes the appearance of the scene, but what is different from a normal filter is how you can adjust the tone. and heat individually to tailor the look exactly to your liking. Apple says Photographic Styles smartly keeps skin tones and the sky looking natural, and it certainly seems to be.

Your settings are remembered even when you exit the Camera app, so you’ll have to manually switch back to standard view if you prefer in most situations. If you want to reset any changes you make to heat and tone, look for a reset button next to the sliders you used to change them; otherwise, they are a permanent change.

This is important because, like a normal filter, there is a time and place to use Photographic Styles, and the edits will not be suitable for all the photos you take. You may also find that using photo editing mode will change the photo more to your liking, but this is only available after taking the photo. Photographic styles can immediately give you the look you want, which is worth it. Don’t overdo it.

Photo editing and iMovie

Apple’s iOS has one of the best and most comprehensive photo editing suites built in, and you really should be using it. While I think the interface is a bit convoluted, especially for cropping or changing the aspect ratio, there’s no denying its ability. Almost every aspect of your image can be edited, and changes can be observed in real time. I often like my photos to look special, and it’s really easy to get them right on the iPhone.

The suite also has a capable video editing mode, but don’t forget about iMovie. Cutting videos using the editor is great for getting started, but iMovie pulls them together into a professional-looking final video, potentially without any input from you. It’s really handy when you want to share videos quickly. It took me five minutes to put together the multiple clips of the Cinematic Mode demo video above. You can go further than just letting iMovie do the work if you want to, either rearranging individual videos, changing the look, changing the length, duplicating clips, or adding titles and audio.

All of this completes the experience on the iPhone. The iPhone 13 Pro’s A15 Bionic processor means everything goes really fast too, and I haven’t found any situation where it feels other than snapshot, whether it’s shooting cinematic videos or edit them all together in iMovie later.

While using the iPhone 13 Pro, all of the above also apply to the iPhone 13 Pro Max. I really enjoyed going out and using the camera and all of its new features and hope you do too.

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