How to master the camera app on iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini

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Dive deep into the ever-expanding default Camera app on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini to get the most out of it.

Both the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have dual cameras on the back. There is a 12 MP wide angle lens as well as a special 12 MP ultra wide angle lens. With the iPhone 13, Apple has continued to improve the camera with new features such as photo styles and movie mode.

Volume buttons

If we start with the controls of the Camera application, sometimes touching the screen is not convenient. It can result in additional blurring of your photos if you touch the screen enough to move and may require you to use two hands – one to hold the phone while the other presses the shutter button on the screen.

Fortunately, you can also use the physical volume keys as shutters.

Shoot with the volume buttons

By default, if you press the volume up or volume down keys on your iPhone 13, a photo will be taken. It’s as if you pressed a button on the screen. If you hold any of the keys, the video clip will start recording instead.

Users here have one additional customization option. By going to Settings > Camera you can enable a switch to use the volume up key to take burst photos. When this is turned on, if you hold the volume up key with the Camera app open, it will start taking bursts of photos instead.

Zoom control

Another trick has to do with controlling the range or zoom levels of your photo. As mentioned, the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini have two cameras. In the Camera app, you can quickly switch between ultra-wide and wide-angle cameras by touching small circles just above the shutter.

In addition, you can choose anything between .5X and 1X zoom or up to 5X digital zoom. We often see users pinching and dragging the screen to zoom in, but that’s not very convenient.

Squeezing your fingers on the screen blurs your view, moves the phone and is generally quite difficult – especially on the 5.4-inch iPhone 13 mini. Instead, try swiping your zoom buttons.

Zoom in on your photos

Master the zoom control point

When you drag the .5X or 1X buttons, a zoom wheel will appear to allow you to specify exactly how many zooms you want. It is much easier to pull and if you hit the zipper with your thumb, your thumb is already perfectly located to adjust that wheel. When you’re done, you can just pull towards the shutter and the wheel will disappear.

Remember, both of these phones do not have a telephoto lens, so anything above 1X is digital zoom. Digital zoom only increases the pixel size compared to using a telephoto lens. This results in slightly lower quality, but it also means you can crop the photo after taking it with the same quality change.

Apple QuickTake

With QuickTake, you can switch from photo mode to video in an instant. Touching the shutter button will take a photo – if it is in “photo” mode. But if you touch and hold, it will start recording video instead. Very similar to how we used the volume keys.

When you hold the button, as long as you hold it, the video will be recorded. If you want to lock it in video mode, pull the shutter to the right. You can then release the shutter and the video will resume recording.

Alternatively, if you touch the shutter button and immediately drag to the left while holding, you’ll start taking bursts of photos instead. Hold the shutter button and consecutive photos will continue to be taken. Release the shutter and it will stop.

Bonus controls

In addition to the controls on the screen, more controls can be accessed by tapping the carrot icon in the middle of the top. When touched, a new shelf with icons will appear just above the shutter button.

Additional camera controls

Additional camera controls

These icons include flash control (auto, off, on), night mode (appears only when dark), Live Photo (on, off), photo styles (choose from five styles), aspect ratio (4: 3) , 1: 1, 16: 9), exposure compensation, timer and filters.

Photographic style is a new feature of the iPhone 13. These are more subtle versions of the filters that are applied at the time of shooting. You can choose between warm, cool, lively and rich contrast. Each of them then has its own sliders that you can adjust.

When photo style is turned on, this subtle effect will apply to all your photos as you take them. This allows you to perfect your personal look and automatically apply it to every photo you take.

Night mode on the iPhone 13 also turns on automatically whenever the environment is right. If there is enough lighting, night mode is not necessary, so the icon disappears. When you find yourself in a low light environment, this icon will appear and will be enabled automatically.

What the night mode does is simulate an extended shutter. This means you need to stay calm while taking a photo as any shaking can create a blurry image. Therefore, the duration will depend on how far the phone moves in combination with how dark the photo is.

if you’re shooting at night from your hand, you’ll probably only see the three-second shutter release. Manual, you can set it manually for up to ten seconds. If you mount your iPhone on a cradle, you will be able to increase it to 30 seconds.

Record videos on iPhone 13

There are four video modes on the iPhone 13. There is timelapse, slow motion, cinematic and your basic video mode.

When recording video, you can quickly switch between HD and 4K resolution. For additional resolution options, you can jump into the Settings app where there are options for 720P, as well as various frame rate options.

Cinematic Mode is another new feature of the iPhone 13. This mimics portrait mode, but for video. When you record a video in Cinematic Mode, it will blur the background of the video and you have a lot of control after the video is edited.

Video editing in Cinematic Mode

Video editing in Cinematic Mode

Cinematic Mode video is indicated by an indicator in the upper left corner of the thumbnail in the Photos app. Touching the edit opens a multitude of controls.

Because Cinematic Mode blurs the background, it must have primary focus. While editing, you can turn on focus editing by tapping the square icon with a circle inside. As the video plays, the subject in focus will have a yellow frame around it.

You can change the focus while editing the video just by touching another part of the frame. Cinematic Mode will then follow that point. Multiple focus points are indicated by a yellow circle below the timeline. This gives you complete control over what is in focus during your video and what is not.

You can also adjust the aperture while editing. Touching the stylized fu in the upper left corner starts the slider on the right edge. Increase the aperture value and the background will become sharper, while decreasing the value will increase the background bokeh.


Third-party camera apps are always an option for iPhone users, but many still stick to Apple shares. That’s why it’s so important that Apple continues to add features to the default Camera app.

Whether you’re shooting in portrait mode, taking live photos or shooting a stylized video in Cinematic Mode, the Camera app will cover you.

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Naveen Kumar

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