The iPhone camera and exposure
iPhone photography apps
My blogs about iPhone photography
My iPhone Photography
Photography has long been a hobby of mine and once I started with an SLR and a darkroom. I have a large collection of self-printed black-and-white photographs and color slides that I still need to digitize. Over time, however, my interest diminished and the doka stuff disappeared in a box in the attic. Until I bought one of the first 3 megapixel cameras and my enthusiasm was back again. At this moment, iPhone photography has my interest. The quality of the photos and lens I find very good for shooting in good lighting conditions. On my iPhone I can take RAW photos and many function-rich apps such as Snapseed and Lightroom CC are available for editing on my iPad.
I also have an SLR camera with a zoom lens and an external flash. Currently, however, I photograph a lot with my iPhone. This smartphone makes more than good photos, has a burst mode of 10 photos per second, can record in Ultra HD video and I have it always with me. And the iPhone is of course much smaller and lighter than my SLR camera.
I have immersed myself in the creative possibilities of iPhone photography and regularly write a blog about my experiments and results.
The iPhone camera has some limitations compared to an SLR camera. The aperture, with which the amount of light that falls on the sensor is determined, is not adjustable on the iPhone. The shutter speed, with which you control the exposure time, is no longer than 1/3 of a second on my iPhone 6s. An SLR camera can even illuminate indefinitely (Bulb mode). And the sensor of an iPhone is much smaller and gets less light. Therefore you get noise faster and the dynamic range is smaller.
How does the exposure of an iPhone work?
The exposure of a photo is determined by the ISO value, the shutter speed and the aperture. The ISO value indicates the sensitivity of the sensor to light. A high ISO gives more noise. In the standard camera app, the shutter speed and ISO are not adjustable. The iPhone’s standard camera app will always try to take photos with a low ISO (minimum ISO 25) and a high shutter speed (maximum 1/8000). Low ISO produces low noise and a high shutter speed prevents motion blur. If the light is reduced, the iPhone will first bring down the shutter speed to an exposure time, with which you still can take pictures hand-holding the iPhone without motion blur. Then the ISO will increase in steps up to a maximum of 2000 ISO. In dark conditions the photo will be taken with a low shutter speed and a high ISO.
Apps for manual exposure
There are apps that give you more control over the exposure with modes for shutter speed priority and ISO priority. The app will automatically select the correct ISO value at a manually set shutter speed and vice versa. There are also apps available that allow you to set the exposure completely manually.
This video explains until 2:30 how the exposure of the iPhone camera works.
The standard iPhone Camera app
The iPhone Camera app has features that a SLR camera does not (yet) have.
- The panorama mode for example, with which you can make beautiful widescreen photos.
- And you can make a time lapse video by taking a picture at fixed adjustable intervals.
- Live Photos that lets you capture the moment with a photo and 3 seconds of video with audio.
Download camera apps
And for the desired “SLR results” you can download camera apps from the App Store. For example, there are apps that allow you to simulate a long shutter speed, even bulb is possible. Other apps simulate the effect of a large aperture opening by blurring backgrounds of portraits.
I shoot my photos with an iPhone 6s and an iPhone 8 Plus and use a mini-tripod for long exposures. For landscape, city and interior photography I use a Black Eye external wide-angle lens. The apps for taking pictures are the iPhone Camera app, Slow Shutter Cam, Cortex Cam, Lightroom CC, ProCamera and Camera+. For editing photo’s I use the apps Lightroom CC, Snapseed and Handy Photo.
One of my first blogs is about black and white photography. When I started photography, black-and-white photographing and developing was the way for hobbyists to print photos themselves. At that time, many black and white photographs were also printed in newspapers. Now almost all photos are digital and therefore in color. Converting a color photo to black and white is a way to give extra attention to certain aspects, such as the shape of the subject and exposure. It can also give a special atmosphere to a photo. In this blog I tell you which app I use for the black and white conversion and I show you some examples.
Long exposure is a technique that was previously only possible with SLR cameras and with the help of special and expensive filters. You needed a lot of experience and patience to achieve good results. With special apps you can use this special technique with your iPhone for shooting waterfalls and landscapes. In this blog I tell you what you need and I show you some examples.
In this blog I show you a few examples and tell you which filters and presets the photos in Snapseed have been converted to black and white.
In this blog I explain what a raw photo file is and I tell you about the advantages of shooting in raw. Furthermore, I mention a number of apps that you need for shooting and editing in raw. I tell you what to look out for when photographing in raw and which photo editing apps I use. With examples I show you how to edit a raw photo and what the result is.
An example of a raw photo edited in Lightroom CC and Snapseed.
With the latest iPhones with dual cameras you can shoot beautiful portraits with a blurred background. The result is almost as good as that of an SLR camera. I have researched whether I can also make portraits with bokeh with my iPhone 6s with a single camera and tell about my findings in this blog.
Inspired by the night mode function of my Canon Powershot, I went looking for an app that allows me to take night shots with my iPhone without a tripod. In this blog I tell about the possibilities of the standard iPhone camera app and explain how the Cortex Cam app works. I have added a number of photos that I have made of Groningen at night without a tripod.
In this blog I explain how you can photograph with you iPhone fast moving subjects with motion blur. I tell you about the iPhone photograpy app you need and give examples.
The panorama mode I use especially on vacation for landscapes and sunsets. This function is also very useful for photographing large groups and buildings. In this blog I explain with examples what the possibilities are.
You can make Live Photos with with an iPhone 6s and later models. In this blog I tell about the possibilities.
I replaced my iPhone 6s with the iPhone 8 Plus and am very excited about the Portrait mode. Portrait photos have a background blur as if they were made with an SLR camera. I tested the Portrait Mode and the Dual Camera extensively and wrote a blog about it.
The iPhone Camera app is user-friendly and quickly accessible. The picture below is an HDR example and made with the iPhone Camera app.