Apple introduced Macro Mode with the iPhone 13 and it’s improved each year since.
It’s convenient to be able to go from photographing landscapes or portraits to making macros with the touch of a button. No changing lenses like we do with a big camera and no need for an accessory lens (although you can get even closer with a good macro lens attached).
Here are few steps for creating macro photos with macro mode on the iPhone 13, 14, and 15.
You first need to turn on macro mode in the phone’s camera settings. (Settings>Camera>Macro Control>ON)
When you turn macro control on in the settings, a macro switch is added to the camera interface. It appears as a tiny flower icon when you move the camera close to the subject.
The macro switch icon appears in the lower left of the screen. When macro is ON the icon appears yellow; when OFF it is white and has a line through it. It’s on in the screen shot below.
Tap the Macro icon to turn the macro feature on and off. As you move close to the subject, the icon will appear. Move away and the icon will disappear.
You may notice a flicker as you move closer to the subject. This is the camera switching to the 13mm ultra wide camera which is used to make the macro photo. You can still choose any of the camera lens options (.5x, 1x, 2x or 5x) to frame your photo but when macro mode activates the phone automatically switches to the .5x, 13mm ultra wide angle lens.
Macro mode produces a very shallow depth of field meaning that only elements that are the same distance from the camera will be in focus. You’ll need to move the camera (or the subject) until you get the part(s) of the subject that you want to be in focus.
Holding the camera still and having a still subject is critical to being in focus. Photographing a flower that is being blown by the wind will not usually yield a sharp photo. I get the best results when I brace myself to hold the camera as still as possible or use a tripod.
Tips for Making Macro Photos
Use Burst Mode
When using macro mode outdoors when wind is moving the subject, take a burst of photos instead of a single shot. You’ll have a better chance that one of the photos in the burst will be in focus.
Note: Photos made in burst mode will be jpegs; you can’t create a RAW photo in burst mode.
To make a burst of photos, drag the shutter button to the left and hold. The camera will fire for as long as you hold the button and stop when you release it.
Use a Tripod for Stability
While you can get good results handholding, macro photos are very sensitive to any camera movement so using a tripod will increase your odds of an in-focus photo.
Here are links to three small tripods I use. The first two fit in my pocket.
Kenu Stance Mini Tripod Stand (This one does not work with the 15 phones that have the new usb-c port, but it works with all other iPhones.)
Photograph in Bright Light
Having sufficient light will produce a better photo.
Bright overcast conditions are great for photographing flowers out doors, while direct sunlight can be too harsh and produce unpleasant shadows.
If you’re indoors, find a spot near a window where you can use the ambient light. To soften the light use a sheer piece of fabric as a diffuser. Our dining room windows get great light and the sheer curtains serve as the perfect diffuser.
Otherwise illuminate your subject with artificial light. You can use lights you have around the house but using lights designed for photography will give you the most control over the light temperature which affects color accuracy. If you’re creating in the RAW file format, you can easily adjust the white balance and color temperature in editing software such as Lightroom Mobile which lets you select a white balance in the Color management tool, or SnapSeed, which has a surprisingly good White Balance adjustment.
Try the app
What if you don’e have Macro Mode on your iPhone? If you have an iPhone 12 or earlier, your camera doesn’t have that feature.
But there’s a great option: Camera +: Pro Camera and Editor! This app has a fantastic macro feature that does about as well as the built-in version in the later iPhones.
Be Patient and Take Your Time
Macro photography takes time and patience. It requires practice, making lots of photos, many of which will not be up to par. Trying different angles, different lighting options, and varying your subjects is all part of the fun!
Thanks for taking time to read this blog post. I hope find it useful and that you’ll give macro mode a try! For more posts like this, how to videos, and other photography tips, I hope you’ll subscribe to my newsletter, visit my YouTube Channel, or check out my new SlickPic website!