In addition to the obvious innovations in the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro camera modules, Apple’s current iPhone models also come with less intrusive camera features, which we explain below. In this article we explain how to use Deep Fusion, night mode and some tricks to take better photos with current iPhones.
Deep Fusion – Activate and use
With Deep Fusion, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max with iOS 13.2 feature camera technology that ensures more detailed recordings in poor lighting conditions. The marketing term Deep Fusion stands for so-called computational photography. And behind this technical term, in this case, there are sophisticated algorithms and programs that calculate several shots together, analyze the respective motif and its structures, and merge everything back into a single photo. The resulting shot has a higher resolution and reveals more detail than a photo taken without Deep Fusion.
Now, Deep Fusion is not a dedicated mode that you can turn on and off. This feature automatically activates when lighting conditions are too good for Night Mode but too bad for Smart HDR. Apart from a more detailed photo, it is not clear that Deep Fusion is or was active and that is how Apple wanted it. There is no little icon or EXIF information to indicate that this is a deep fusion photo.
However, there are a few things to note about Deep Fusion:
- Deep Fusion only works with the wide and telephoto cameras, not the ultra wide camera. Among other things, the latter does not have the necessary focus pixels
- In the iOS settings under Camera, you must disable the “Out-of-frame photo capture” composition setting to benefit from Deep Fusion. Unfortunately, these two features are mutually exclusive, so you have to choose one
- There is currently only one method to unequivocally identify a deep fusion photo as such. The Metapho app integrates such a feature and also marks a deep merged photo as “Deeply Merged” in the associated metadata view
Outside the frame: more flexibility
In the previous point we already mentioned this function, here we explain it to you. The so-called “out of frame recording” is a feature in the iOS camera app settings. If enabled, the camera automatically takes additional photos and/or videos in parallel with the next wide-angle camera.
This has the advantage that you can change the section of the image later. This means that you can not only zoom in from the original image section, but also zoom out.
Similar to Deep Fusion, Night Mode is not a stand-alone camera mode, but rather a feature that is activated or activated automatically. it is offered as soon as lighting conditions are particularly bad. An active or available night mode can be recognized by a small round icon in the top left corner of the camera app. If this icon is yellow, the mode is active; if the icon is white, night mode is available but not activated automatically, but can be activated manually by tapping this white icon.
Depending on lighting conditions and other circumstances, such as how steady you’re holding your iPhone or whether you’re using a tripod, Night Mode independently and automatically selects an ideal exposure time, displayed in seconds.
However, this exposure time can also be manually extended or shortened, and the night mode can also be temporarily disabled for the respective recordings. Always setting the exposure time manually to the maximum does not necessarily lead to better results, you should keep that in mind.
Quickly switch between video modes with one touch
As of iOS 13.2, you can now quickly and easily switch between different video modes, more precisely resolutions and frame rates, directly in the standard camera app. Just touch the mode screen for it. Previously, you always had to switch to iOS settings to select the desired video recording mode.
Of course, users who often want or need to switch between different modes often use a more professional third-party camera app, since the standard iOS camera app is intentionally and fundamentally shortened to be fully automatic. Nonetheless, this small update is highly anticipated and useful.
To switch between the different resolutions and frame rates, simply tap the screen at the bottom or top right edge in the camera app’s video mode (see screenshot).
Portrait mode all things!
Originally, the so-called portrait mode was only possible with the telephoto camera. With iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro, you can also use the wide-angle camera for portrait shots with special depth of field.
You can also use the depth of field effect not only on faces, but also on animals and objects. You can also set the focus point manually with a simple touch. Sometimes, however, you can achieve better results than relying on automatic object recognition.
Use third-party apps
As already mentioned, the standard iOS camera app is designed to be fully automatic. The only adjustments that can be made directly in the app are manually setting the focus point and exposure. This is what Apple wanted. The app needs to be as easy to use as possible for the broad user base, staying true to the “Point and Shoot” motto.
Those who prefer more and more special features, as well as manual settings, can use numerous third-party camera apps, which Apple is also enthusiastically promoting on the App Store, in its retail stores, and at events. Developers have direct access to the camera system and thus can develop comprehensive applications that are more than the standard camera application in different packages. Examples of this are the FiLMiC Pro video app, which Apple gave valuable stage time in front of an international audience of millions at its latest iPhone event, or the Spectre photography app, which Apple named the app of iPhone of the year 2019 a few weeks ago.
The following are some recommended camera apps, some of which I have personally used for many years and can also be found on my iPhone 11 Pro:
- ProCam: ProCam is a recommended app for manual photography, night photography and long exposure.
- Halide – Halide is an award-winning camera app that offers a balanced mix of manual and automatic camera features. It is optimized for RAW photography and offers other functions to offer the highest photo quality in every situation.
- Spectre: Specter is from the same developers as Halide and is designed for long exposure, not only for night shots, but also for daytime photos.
- Lightroom: Adobe’s Lightroom app is primarily a powerful photo editing software, but it also offers a very cool camera feature for HDR photos.
- NightCap – As the name suggests, NightCap specializes in night photography and is one of the best options for shooting in critical lighting conditions. RAW photography and astrophotography are possible.
- SkyFlow – Even if the standard camera app also offers a time-lapse feature, SkyFlow offers many more configuration options and manual camera settings. In addition, an editor is integrated with which time-lapse recordings can be converted into videos and edited.
- ProMovie – A recommended alternative to FiLMiC Pro for enthusiastic video producers is ProMovie. Manual camera settings including manual focus and higher quality file formats for the best video quality.
- FiLMiC Pro: FiLMiC Pro is the preferred video camera application for many professional users. Entire movies and music videos have been recorded using this app, including Lady Gaga’s latest hit “Stupid Love”.
- FiLMiC DoubleTake – DoubleTake is a multi-camera app that can be used to record two Full HD videos with two cameras simultaneously on current iPhone models (iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max).
Apple Smart Battery Case
Last but not least, we recommend you take a look at Apple’s Smart Battery Case for iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Unlike the smart battery cases for older models, those from the iPhone lineup introduced in 2019 have a dedicated camera button. Not only can the standard iOS camera app be launched when the iPhone is in sleep mode, but the button also serves as the shutter button.
In addition, Apple Smart Battery Cases extend the battery life of current iPhone models by up to 50 percent, which comes in handy for longer trips, vacation trips, or reason-seeking. Not forgetting that the cases also serve as protective covers and thus combine three functions. You can find out more about Apple’s new Smart Battery Cases in our test.