These days, I tend to use my iPhone more than my DSLR for photos and videos because it's always to hand. It takes pretty good photos but there's always room for improvement. Here are some tips on how to make sure you end up with images that are far better than mere snaps, as well as videos that look less amateur.
How to take better photos on your iPhone: add-on lenses
Smartphone cameras are getting better and better, but no matter how many megapixels manufacturers cram in you have one fixed lens to play with. Only a couple of smartphones have zoom lenses, such as the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, but what if you want a zoom on your iPhone? Here we explain how to do exactly that as well as offering some tips to take better photos.
You may not realise it, but you can buy lenses which clip over your iPhone. They include wide-angle, macro, fisheye and telephoto. You can even get miniature circular polarisers, so it’s possible to get many of the effects you can on a ‘proper’ camera without resorting to cheating in software.
Olloclip makes lenses for all iPhone models, including the 6 and 6 Plus. They’re not the cheapest, but as with DSLRs, you get what you pay for. We’ve found Olloclip’s lenses to be very well built and produce extremely sharp photos.
The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus lens is reversible and works with both the front- and rear-facing cameras, so you can use the wide-angle lens to take a ‘grouphie’ without needing a selfie stick.
When you unscrew the wide-angle or fisheye lenses, there’s a macro lens underneath offering 10x and 15x magnification.
Olloclip isn’t the only choice, of course. If you have 35mm lenses, you can buy adaptors to mount those lenses on your iPhone. One example is the Turtleback DOF and another is Photojojo’s (although this works only with the iPhone 4 and 4S). Mounting a 35mm lens isn’t simple and requires a special case for your iPhone. It’s not for everyone, but if you really want to shoot SLR-like photos, this is how to do it without faking depth of field.
How to take better videos on your iPhone
If you have an iPhone 5S, 6 or 6 Plus you can shoot slo-mo video. It’s not too hard to hold the phone still for such a short amount of time, but the new time-lapse mode in iOS 8 means the phone really needs to be mounted on a tripod to avoid shaky footage.
You could try and rest your phone against something, but it’s worth investing in a case which can attach to a standard tripod or an iPhone-specific stand. An example is the Kenu Stance which clips into the Lightning port and allows you to hold your iPhone steady in portrait or landscape mode. A balljoint means you can adjust it to the perfect angle for a time-lapse of clouds rushing overhead, or whatever it is you want to capture.
In fact, a stand is also handy for photos, especially now the built-in camera app has a self-timer.
How to take better photos and videos on your iPhone: apps
Sticking with Apple’s own camera app is probably a bad idea. It’s a lot better than it used to be, but there are other camera apps such as Camera which offer more control.
For example, you can choose separate focus and exposure points, focus manually and even choose the exact shutter speed. It can be helpful if you want to get more creative. For example, if you want to get that ‘smooth water’ effect when shooting a river or waterfall, you can combine a stand to keep the iPhone perfectly still with a slow shutter speed and some exposure compensation.
If you want to improve your selfies, CyberLink's YouCam Perfect is fun, letting you do some virtual cosmetic surgery and smooth out those wrinkles and blemishes.
For video, try Filmic Pro. This brilliant app gives you the kind of full manual control that you’d find on an enthusiast-level HD camcorder. All for £5.49. You’ll be able to vary the framerate (up top 240fps on the 6 and 6 Plus), focus manually, change exposure, ISO, tint and more.
It has audio meters, support for stereo mics, and you can shoot in a variety of aspect ratios including ‘Cinemascope’ 2.59:1.