A point that we often return to on How-To Geek is that in order to get better pictures, you need to understand how to manually control the camera, even if you do not do that for any setting or shot. Your iPhone is no exception. Unfortunately, IOS does not offer manual controls in the default camera app, so we need to go with a third-party app.
Apple (chasing Google) has continued to invent and add program features in camera app things like Smart HDR and Portrait Mode. These are good, but they do not replace manual controls. For example, if you want to take pictures through the window of a moving vehicle, you must set the shutter speed manually. Your iPhone camera will almost always set it too slowly to avoid motion blur. Likewise, you probably want to manually control the camera for at least part of the time when shooting at night or when there is a lot of contrast.
Even if you essentially let your iPhone do its thing – like me, to be honest – it's still important to know how to manually check things to capture great photos when you need.
What you can control
Your iPhone does not give you full manual control over all possible settings. In particular, the lens aperture and focal length are fixed to f / 1.8, as well as to a full-frame equivalent of 26 mm (for wide-angle lens) and 51 mm (for the phone lens). This means that you must control exposure with either shutter speed and ISO or exposure compensation.
With a good manual camera app, you can control:
You will also be able to capture RAW photos, giving you more options when editing your photos.
The Free Choice: VSCO (Free)
Okay, even if I recommend "VSCO", I do not recommend it unless you only need manual checks sometimes and do not want to pay for it . It's just that it's the best available option.
VSCO is an incredible editing app, it's one of my favorite photography apps, but the problem is that the camera part is just okay. It gives you manual control over shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and exposure compensation, but they are not superintuitive to use. When you open the app, you are not taken directly to the camera, which means it's a bit slow.
If you sometimes want to take a shot where you need to manually control camera settings, VSCO will work well for you. But if you regularly want to take control of your iPhone's camera, it's likely that it may annoy you.
The Best Option: Halide ($ 5.99)
Halide is the best iPhone camcorder game. It gives you complete control over shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus, exposure compensation, and screen depth. All controls are quick and intuitive to use. With a few minutes of training you can control everything without thinking about it – exactly what you want from a camera app.
The best thing about Halide is that the developers are constantly running what is possible with the iPhone's camera. They were the first to dig deep into what happened to beautygate and they used to learn how to develop Smart RAW, an exposure algorithm that delivers better quality and sharper RAW images than iPhone's standards.
Halide is a lot of iPhone photographers go-to app for a reason. It's the best way to manually control your iPhone camera.