Top 5 iPhone Camera Settings for Better Looking Photos

Unlock your iPhone's potential by discovering the top 5 settings to enhance photo quality and make every shot Instagram-worthy.

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Anyone can snap way with their iPhone out of the box, but taking the images to another level is a whole different ballgame. Whether you’re shooting for Instagram, capturing precious family moments, or simply documenting everyday life — getting the most out of your iPhone’s camera is essential. Lucky for you, all Apple devices come with a few neat (and sometimes hidden) settings and features that can drastically improve the quality of your photos. Below are the tips that have helped us, and many other professional mobile creators, effortlessly elevate their mobile photography. And if you need a similar article for better-looking iPhone videos, you can read that here.

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1. Use RAW Format

Shooting in RAW gives you more editing flexibility in post-processing. It captures more detail, allowing for better highlights, shadows, and color adjustments. Every professional photographer who uses their phone refers to RAW image data to get the most out of editing their images, whether you use VSCO, Adobe Lightroom, or another app of choice. It might take some time to get used to the editing adjustments for RAW files, but it's way easier than you think, and it's not scary — we promise!

How To Do It:

  • Open Settings > Camera > Formats.
  • Enable "Apple ProRAW" (available on newer models).
  • You can also shoot RAW images in the Moment Pro Camera App for even greater manual control.

Pro Tip: Remember, RAW files are larger than JPEGs! Ensure you have enough storage or regularly back up your shots. If you need a breakdown of what RAW files mean, check out this article for greater education.

2. Grid & Rule of Thirds

A well-composed shot can make all the difference. The Rule of Thirds is a photography principle that helps balance your image, making it more appealing. It splits your frame into nine even parts using horizontal and vertical lines. You craft a more harmonious and captivating image by aligning your primary subject or crucial elements on these lines or where they meet. This method is a favorite among photographers to steer the viewer's gaze and infuse depth and layers into the composition.

How To Do It:

  • Go to Settings > Camera.
  • Toggle the "Grid" switch.

Pro Tip: When taking photos, align your subject or key elements with the grid lines or where they intersect for a more aesthetically pleasing result.

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3. Turn Off HDR Auto

This is a big one. While HDR can enhance your shots by blending different exposures, sometimes it can make photos look unnatural. The newer iPhone models tend to have a high-clarity appearance, making the images look overly pixelated or manipulated. It's a clinical-type look that many digital cameras replicate. Many professional photographers agree that the intention of this effect doesn't look great, so we suggest turning the HDR off for a cleaner, true-to-life tone.

How To Do It:

  • Navigate to Settings > Camera.
  • Toggle off "Smart HDR" or "Auto HDR" (depending on your model).

Pro Tip: Manually use HDR when dealing with challenging lighting situations where you want to capture detail in both the shadows and highlights (I.e., low-light scenes).

4. Adjust Exposure Manually

Auto-exposure doesn’t always get it right, even on expensive camera rigs. Adjusting yourself can help capture your scene just as you envision it. Doing this can greatly affect the mood of your image and make for an easier time in the editing room (I.e., not having to worry about blown-out highlights).

How To Do It:

  • Open the Camera app.
  • Tap the screen to focus, then swipe up or down on the sun icon to adjust the exposure.
  • Option #2: Manual exposure on Apple's native camera app only goes so far, that we suggest downloading the Moment Pro Camera App for better control over ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, and much more. Learn about those functionalists here and discover a whole new world of mobile shooting.

Pro Tip: If you're in a situation where you're moving between light and dark areas, lock the focus and exposure by pressing and holding on to the screen until you see "AE/AF Lock.”

5. Preserve Camera Settings

Remember when you tweaked a few settings, took a perfect shot, and wanted to recreate it later? Only to realize the camera had reverted to its default settings? Luckily, there's a way to preserve all your previous settings, so it always opens to your preference.

How To Do It:

  • Open Settings > Camera.
  • Scroll to "Preserve Settings".
  • Here, you can choose to keep your last mode (like Video or Pano), the last-used filter, or the Live Photo setting.

Pro Tip: Use this if you often switch between specific modes. It’ll save you time and keep you from missing a shot.

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