Source: Daniel Bader / iMore

For many of us, our favorite iPhone or iPad will be the best digital camera we have on hand. You know what they say: “the best camera is the one you have with you” after all. And when you have your iPhone in hand, you can quickly capture selfies, portraits, panoramas, 4K digital videos, high dynamic range (HDR), burst action photos and more.

The Camera app on your iPhone, and even your iPad, will help you capture all of life’s whimsical moments, whether planned or completely spontaneous. Here is a complete guide on how to use the Camera app on your iPhone to its fullest potential.

How to quickly access the camera on iPhone and iPad

Christine takes a portrait selfie with the iPhone 11 ProSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

When you want to take a snapshot of the moment, you’ll want to be quick to make sure the particular scene doesn’t get lost on you. Fortunately, when using the native Camera app, you can access it quickly and easily, as there are several ways to do it.

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The easiest way is to start the Camera app from the lock screen as there is a button right there for that. You can also use the Control Center’s camera toggle or even use Haptic Touch to go directly to a selfie, video, Portrait mode, or Portrait selfie.

For those who like to use voice commands, you can even ask Siri to help you take a photo.

How to take photos, bursts, panoramas, and more

iPod touch with Camera app taking a panoramaSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

Even though it looks rudimentary compared to third-party camera app replacements, the native Camera app is capable of taking a wide variety of different types of photos. You can take a standard photo, but you can take it a step further with Burst mode for action shots, Portrait mode and Portrait selfies, HDR photos for landscapes, Square photos for Instagram, Timed photos for group photos, panoramas and a ton more. Plus, the iPhone has a built-in LED flash to help you out in low light, which is always helpful.

For all other things, check out our guide on how to take photos, selfies, bursts and more on your iPhone.

How to take and share live photos

One of the fun things about the iPhone is the ability to take live photos. These are more like moving photos – a kind of hybrid between a JPG image and an MOV file. You know in Harry Potter, where do they have these animated photos? Yeah, it’s kind of like that. With a live photo, what you capture the moment you press the shutter button is the middle of the live photo, as it will also record the 1.5 seconds before and after that point.

If you want to master the art of live photos and know how to take, view and share them, check out our comprehensive guide to live photos.

How to lock focus, skew exposure, activate the grid, and geotag your photos

iPod touch with Camera app open on the gridSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

You know how you can tap the screen in the Camera app to set the focus point of your photo? I bet you didn’t know that you can also do advanced things like lock the focus point, change exposure, and even activate a grid to make it easier to get the perfect composition. Enabling these features is not as obvious as the different photo modes, but don’t worry! We show you exactly how to lock focus, adjust exposure, turn on the grid, and even turn on geotagging for photos on your iPhone.

How to Record Videos, Slow Motion, and Time Lapse on Your iPhone

IPhone 11 Pro video recordingSource: iMore

Your iPhone is not only a great camera for photos, but it’s also a powerful video recorder. With the iPhone, you can record standard videos up to 60 fps, and some of the newer models, like the iPhone 12, are capable of recording in 4K at 60 fps.

Check out our full guide on how to record videos with your iPhone or iPad for all the basics, as well as slow motion shooting, time lapse videos, and more.

How to use the telephoto lens on your iPhone

iPhone 11 Pro using a telephoto lens in the cameraSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

Since the iPhone 7 Plus, Apple has added a telephoto lens to the more expensive flagship devices. Telephoto lets you get at least 2x optical zoom, and it can go up to 10x digital zoom, so you can get closer to your photos. So if you have at least an iPhone 7 Plus or later, here’s how to use the photographic zoom with the telephoto lens.

Once you’ve zoomed in enough with the telephoto lens, taking a photo is like taking a regular photo – just press the shutter button and voila!

The telephoto lens also made Portrait mode possible thanks to the multi-lens system. However, recent advances in software have allowed iPhones with single-lens camera systems (like the iPhone SE (2020)) to get Portrait mode as well, with some limitations.

How to take RAW and manual photos

IPhone 12 Pro reviewSource: Daniel Bader / Android Central

If you have an iPhone 12 Pro or iPhone 12 Pro Max, you have the option to shoot in Apple’s new ProRAW format. Think of it as a hybrid between true RAW and a JPEG / HEIC image. It uses Apple’s signature compute photography features with a 12-bit RAW DNG file that has 14 dynamic range stops. Editing a ProRAW image gives us as much pure data as possible, so we have even more control over what happens in the post-editing process. But ProRAW image files can be large – up to 25MB each, so use them sparingly.

If you don’t have an iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max, you should know how to use a third-party app to shoot RAW footage on iPhone 11 and earlier. We have a few manual camera apps that we highly recommend for shooting in manual or RAW mode.

How to quickly edit and share photos and videos from the Camera app

While there is a dedicated Photos app on your iPhone and iPad for all your post-processing needs, sometimes you want to edit very quickly or share it immediately after taking a photo in the camera.

It’s actually possible right in the Camera app, and all you need to do is tap on the thumbnail of the photo you just took. You can then go to your Camera Roll, make basic edits, and share your results with friends and family. Or if you’re just not happy with a photo, deleting it has never been faster!

How to use the Camera app on an iPhone 11 and later

iPhone 11 Pro taking an ultra wide photoSource: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore

If you have an iPhone 11 or later, you have additional controls and features in the Camera app that aren’t available on older models. This includes the new dual and triple lens camera systems with Wide, Ultra Wide and Telephoto lenses, night mode, QuickTake videos, wide angle selfies, out of frame photo capture, Deep Fusion, slofies. “(slow motion selfies), and more. To make sure you don’t miss out on any of these awesome new camera features, check out our full guide to using the camera on iPhone 11 and later.


This covers everything you need to know about using the Camera app on your iPhone or iPad. If you have any questions, be sure to drop them in the comments below and we’ll do our best to help.