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How to take even better photos with your iPhone 15 Pro & 15 Pro Max

By Cheryl Tan - 12 Feb 2024

How to take even better photos with your iPhone 15 Pro & 15 Pro Max

Note: This feature was first published on 28 January 2024.

Don't worry if you don't have a professional model, these tips work for us normal people too.

We already covered the iPhone 15 and 15 Pro Max’s photography capabilities rather extensively in our review, but the general idea is that Apple has done a great job improving the software side and offering better sharpness, detail and a new 5x telephoto zoom lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

But if you’re looking to take your photos to another level, we were lucky enough to pick the brains of Singapore-based photographer Yik Keat (yk) and Vietnamese photographer Minh to learn more about their thought process while snapping gorgeous shots and their tricks for getting those shots with an iPhone, while on a short trip to Vietnam to take in the amazing sights leading up to the Vietnamese Lunar New Year, Tết.

Framing and composition

No matter your subject focus, putting some effort into composition works wonders, whether it is to draw interest via leading lines, creating depth or more. 

While shooting, yk mentioned that he really enjoys using the 5x telephoto lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max. 

“I am able to compress the foreground and background to create something amazing. I also like to position my camera lower with 5x to create more depth.” - yk

24mm lens, iPhone 15 Pro main camera.

5x optical zoom.

Punching into the subject allows it to fill more of the frame, drawing the viewer’s attention to smaller details. Case in point: the two photos above, one shot on the regular 24mm lens (main camera) and one with the 120mm telephoto lens (5x zoom). The zoomed-in shot definitely has more of an ethereal, entrancing quality to it without the background being too distracting. 

Of course, if the background is to be part of the shot, there are ways to incorporate it but still draw attention to the subject. 

Taken with iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Another great tip from yk is to use the ultra-wide camera. 

“I also love to use the Ultra Wide lens to go up close to the subject in the tunnel to create an extreme angle, to elongate her fingers and create a foreground to lead up to her face and background.” - yk

Check out those nails. Shot taken with ultrawide lens on the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Not only does it create a semblance of leading lines, but the way the model positions her hands also creates somewhat of a frame within the frame, allowing for the viewer’s eye to be naturally drawn to her face while still allowing for the background to be appreciated.

Portrait Mode

For photos where there are multiple human subjects, the iPhone’s Portrait Mode shines. Best of all, the new iPhone 15 models now don’t even require the phone to be in Portrait Mode to capture depth information. As long as the F symbol appears on the bottom left corner when taking a normal photo, the depth information will be automatically captured and the portrait blur effect can be applied anytime after. 

“Next-generation Portraits are so amazing because you can switch the focus in post, which means you can concentrate on the moment when capturing photos.” - Minh

Focusing on the model in the front.

Focusing on the model in the back.

With multiple subjects in the photo, this makes it even easier as you can change the focus depending on which subject you want to highlight. In the photos above, you’ll be able to see images with the focus locked on either subject.

Portrait lighting effects.Adjusting aperture, focus point and blur.

After capturing the image, that same depth information allows for new editing possibilities, including choosing the aperture and resulting level of blur, as well as being able to isolate subjects to ensure that Portrait lighting effects only apply to them, as seen in the examples above.

RAW image without depth info.

Depth info captured.

Another tip is to ensure you’re not shooting in RAW, as you’ll need to be in the regular 12MP or 24MP mode for the F button to show up and for depth information to be captured.

48MP RAW

If you like capturing multiple images out of one angle, the 48MP RAW shooting mode is a godsend because it provides enough detail to crop in on different areas of a single image to provide different end results.

Original 48MP RAW.

Take, for example, the image above. Captured in 48MP RAW MAX, I can now crop into the model’s face, her left hand and a slightly wider shot with her right hand in the frame, so I have a variety of shots that can be used. 

Crop in on face.

Crop in on left hand.

“48MP is great for duplicating the images and re-cropping it. Essentially, you are doing a small little hack by multiplying the images and repurposing the frame, for your social media and also for magazines and editorial shoots.” - yk

All you have to do is tap the menu button on the top right and select “Duplicate” a few times, then you’ll be able to get to work on cropping the duplicated images to your liking. 

Copy & paste edits

The "copy edits" button can be found in the menu.Once photos are selected, "paste edits" will be available.

If you have a bunch of photos that were taken in the same area, it can be a bit of a hassle to go in and edit them one by one. A handy trick is to do all your edits on a single image, then tap on the menu button again, hit “Copy Edits”, then back out. 

Select all the photos you want to be edited the same way, tap the menu button, this time on the bottom right corner, and hit “Paste Edits”. Simple as that!

48MP RAW.

Portrait mode.

Thanks to these tips from yk and Minh, I’m definitely looking forward to getting some great shots this Lunar New Year. Hopefully these will help you snap some nice photos too!

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