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Home / Tips and Tricks / Control focus and exposure separately in your iPhone’s camera for pro-level photos «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks

Control focus and exposure separately in your iPhone’s camera for pro-level photos «iOS & iPhone :: Gadget Hacks



While iPhone cameras are nothing short of impressive these days, the same can’t be said for the Camera app. In true Apple form, Camera is as simple as it gets, forcing you to go third-party for professional-level features. However, with iOS 14, Apple adds a little extra professionalism, letting you lock focus and exposure separately.

How focus and exposure worked before iOS 14

Controlling focus and exposure on an iPhone hasn’t changed much over the years. Both settings change automatically as you move the camera. If you take a portrait or group photo, face detection ensures that everything is well distributed over up to ten faces. To choose your own focus and exposure, tap anywhere in the frame to turn face detection off. Then, or if there are no faces at all, tap a spot to change the focus and exposure specifically to that area. Long press to lock AE / AF so the elements don̵

7;t change when you move the camera away.

The Camera app also has an exposure slider next to the focus box, where you can manually adjust the shutter speed and f-stop. Drag the sun icon up or down to quickly lighten or darken an image, and it stays that way in iOS 14 for iPhone.

However, that exposure slider is a bit fickle; if you adjust without locking AE / AF, your settings simply change as you move the camera. You can’t lock the exposure setting you want without also locking your focus, but you can fine-tune exposure levels after AE / AF is locked. The big problem is that when you tap elsewhere in the viewfinder, your settings, whether locked or unlocked, change.

How iOS 14 makes focus and exposure control better

Apple has one exposure compensation value (ECV) control to the new camera. Think of it as the “master” exposure. Any change you make to the exposure compensation value affects all photos throughout the camera session – not just for one photo or a small group of photos – until you manually change them again.

The vertical exposure value (EV) slider can still be used to make an image lighter and darker than the value you set the exposure compensation value to, but it can be reset using the camera’s auto controls or elsewhere. the viewfinder. The exposure compensation value cannot be changed that easily. That makes it possible to lock your exposure setting apart from your focus.

Not every iPhone applies

While iOS 14 covers a wide variety of iPhone models, not every iPhone gets every iOS 14 feature. The exposure compensation value tool is the perfect example. According to Apple, only the iPhone 11, 11 Pro, 11 Pro Max, SE (2nd generation), 12, 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max are compatible. The iPhone omits that XR., XS. Max, XS., X, 8 Plus, 8, 7 Plus, 7, SE (1st generation), 6S Plus and 6S..

Access to the exposure adjustment tool

To access the new ECV control, swipe up on the displayed image in any capture mode except Pano. In photo mode, you can also tap the chevron on the main toolbar.

When using Time-Lapse mode, the exposure compensation value adjustment appears automatically, ready to be adjusted. In other capture modes, tap the plus / minus (±) button shown in the hidden toolbar to open it.

A horizontal slider will appear that allows you to control shutter speed and f-stop for the camera from –2 to +2 EV. Moving towards –2 will darken the image, while moving the slider towards +2 will make the image brighter. Return the slider to zero to deactivate the adjustment.

The setting you choose will remain throughout the camera session. You will notice that Apple adds a small histogram to the main toolbar when the ECV is in use. The yellow markers indicate where the ECV value is set, with –2 being far left and +2 being far right. With the secondary toolbar hidden again, the numeric value is also displayed. You can tap this histogram to pull up or hide the ECV slider during use.

AE is in full effect when using the ECV option. For example, if you set the ECV to –2, tapping or moving to a bright area of ​​the screen will still make it darker, while touching or moving it to a darker area will make it brighter. To prevent iOS from further automatically adjusting the exposure, you must also lock AE / AF, as you’ll see next.

Lock focus & AE with exposure adjustment

To lock ECV and also the EV, you have to use the same AE / EF lock gesture that has been around in iOS since what seems like forever. Long press on the area of ​​the viewfinder where you want to lock AE / AF (if there were people in the picture, tap anywhere first to turn face detection off). From here you can fine-tune the overall exposure with the vertical EV slider. Easy and simple.

If you’re using both the ECV and EV sliders, you may notice some red bars in the histogram in the main toolbar. If it’s red on the left, you’re underexposed (it’s too dark) and you’re overexposed if it’s red on the right (it’s too bright). If you see red, you will lose some data in the dark or light areas respectively.

Preservation of the exposure compensation value

The ECV will be locked where you set it, but only for the current camera session. After the app is refreshed, the slider will be reset to zero, which will deactivate the feature. If you want Apple to save your exposure compensation value every time you fire up Camera, this is easy to achieve.

Simply go to Settings -> Camera -> Keep Settings and then tap “Exposure Adjustment”. From now on, iOS will remember your last ECV setting. Additionally, the option adds the histogram to the top menu of your Camera app at all times, even if the ECV slider is set to 0.

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Cover image, screenshots and GIFs by Jake Peterson / Gadget Hacks

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