There are some major changes in iOS 14, including home screen widgets and the ability to change default browsers and email apps. Apple has also improved the excellent camera app. We look at what has changed and how to use the new features.
Newer iPhones Get the biggest upgrades
One of the biggest improvements you will find in the Camera app is its raw performance. Apple claims that it is up to 90 percent faster with the ability to take four pictures per second. The time it takes your iPhone 11 to take its first cold shot has improved by 25 percent, and portrait photography has improved 15 percent faster.
However, Apple has limited many of these enhancements to newer devices, such as the iPhone 11 (and 11 Pro), XR and XS. After testing the camera app and combing Settings on an iPhone X and iPhone 11, the former barely improved at all on iOS 13.
Many of these changes are likely due to the newer processors in the newer devices. Regardless of the age of your iPhone, you can still improve your photography with a few tips and tricks.
A correct exposure control
Locking focus and exposure on an iPhone is an easy experience. First you need to press and hold the area you want to focus on. Then move the exposure control up or down to increase or decrease the amount of light in the scene. It is an exercise in patience that often results in mistakes.
The improvements to iOS 14 in the Camera app make it much easier to fine-tune the exposure and adjust the amount of light in a scene. To do so, open the camera app and tap the up arrow at the top of the screen. In the menu that appears, touch the Plus / Minus icon (+/-) to reveal the exposure compensation dial.
Slide left or right on the dial to increase or decrease the amount of light in your scene. You can also tap anywhere on the screen to control focus without losing your exposure settings. Once you have set an exposure value, iPhone will remember it until the next time you open the camera app.
When using exposure compensation, you will see a light meter at the top left that indicates whether the scene is under- (if the meter is tilted to the left) or overexposed (if the meter is tilted to the right). Keep in mind that exposure compensation only fine-tunes the current scene – it is not a completely manual control.
The Camera app will continue to adapt to lighting conditions, unless you lock the exposure by tapping and holding the viewfinder. You get a lot more control over a scene by doing this and then sliding your fingers up and down in the small box that appears.
Much faster shooting
The fastest way to take a series of pictures is with Burst mode. To do so, press and hold the shutter button. When you are done, you can review all the photos and keep the good ones. In iOS 14, you can also take pictures quickly by pressing the shutter button repeatedly.
In iOS 13, this results in a stutterer as the iPhone processes each photo after shooting. Go to Settings> Camera, then tap “Prioritize faster shooting.” Your iPhone then prioritizes speed over image quality by reducing the amount of processing performed for each image.
With the shutter priority, iOS 14 provides a more natural photography experience that does not resemble a mirrorless or digital SLR camera. You will also not have long bursts of showers, but rather, individual photos to sort through.
This feature works on iPhone XS, XR, 11 and 11 Pro.
Android has mirrored selfies forever. Now (finally) the iPhone does too. In iOS 13 and earlier, iOS automatically mirrors photos so that the text is not displayed backwards to the viewer.
If you would rather save an identical “mirrored” version of a selfie that you see in the viewfinder, turn on “Mirror Front Camera” under Settings> Camera.
This feature is available on iPhone XS, XR and later.
Improvements to the night situation
Night mode now has guides to help you keep your device stable while shooting. By holding the camera as still as possible, the night mode takes a sharper picture. To help you, two crosshairs appear on the screen (much like the ones shown when you take a photo that looks straight down).
Keep these crosshairs in line to take the best possible shot. If you wobble and they fall out of line, you can adjust them for a slightly better result. For best results, place your iPhone on a tripod when shooting at night.
Night mode is only available on iPhone 11 and later.
QuickTake is now on iPhone XR and XS
QuickTake is Apple’s constantly rolling video functionality. It allows you to quickly start shooting a video, even when your camera is in standard photo mode. This reduces the delay caused by having to switch from Photo to Video.
This feature was previously limited to iPhone 11 or better, but iOS 14 adds the feature retroactively to iPhone XR and XS. Simply launch the Camera app and then hold down the volume up rocker or shutter button. To lock the recording, hold down the shutter button and then swipe right.
Use Volume Up for Burst instead of QuickTake
By default, pressing the Volume Up button in the Camera app launches a QuickTake video. On older devices, the volume up button shoots a regular photo.
Now, if you own a newer iPhone, you can choose to enable QuickTake or Burst by holding down the Volume Up button. To enable Burst, simply turn on the “Use volume up for burst” option under Settings> Camera.
To start a QuickTake video, hold down the Volume Down button. This setting affects iPhone XR, XS and later devices.
A new camera settings menu
Changing the camera settings meant tapping small icons at the top of the screen. iOS 14 has placed all of these preferences in a single menu along with the new exposure compensation controls.
If you have an iPhone XR and XS or later, you can access these settings by tapping the down arrow at the top of the screen.
It is unclear why Apple limited this change to only the last two generations of iPhones, while older devices have the same interface. Maybe next year, iPhone X owner!
More photography improvements in the future?
The successor to the iPhone 11 has been delayed this year. Normally, Apple would announce the new phone along with the iOS 14 update, and it would be released about a week after the event.
This year’s iPhone event is expected in October, so we do not have to wait long before we hear about the improvements that will come to this year’s models. It would be nice if Apple introduced night mode for all lenses this time.
Want to learn more about iPhone photography? Check out our ultimate guide to the iOS Camera app.
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