ZOOMING on an iPhone lets you get closer to the action without physically moving – but it’s more complicated than you think.
You can end up with a rubbish shot if you don’t zoom correctly, so here’s an easy guide to how zoom works on the iPhone – and why you’re probably zooming wrong.
What is zooming?
Zooming is all about making the subject of your photo look bigger – and therefore closer.
On real cameras, you can use different lenses that are already zoomed in.
And some zoom lenses have adjustable focal lengths, so you can change the zoom on the fly. This is “optical” zoom.
Ideally, you’ll always be as close to your subject as possible, but optical zoom is the next best thing.
Why is iPhone zoom different?
Smartphones are tiny, so most mobile phones simply can’t fit in “optical” zoom – a lens that physically moves.
So they rely on “digital” zoom, which simply increases the size of the image and crops it.
This is generally bad, because your camera isn’t gaining any new detail – you’ll just end up with a bigger, blurrier shot.
That means you should never use “digital” zoom over simply moving closer to the subject of your photo.
Secret iPhone optical zoom revealed
However, some iPhone models have two cameras on the back.
One of these is a “telephoto” lens that’s preset to 2x optical zoom – no software tricks involved.
But because this lens only has one “optical” zoom setting (2x zoom), everything below 2x zoom is “digital” zoom.
So your 2x zoom image would have more detail than zooming in at, say, 1.7x.
If you do shoot at 1.7x, Apple tries to compensate by borrowing some information from the telephoto lens and adding it into your 1.7x shot.
But only the 2x zoom photo is an authentic “optical” zoom – and preferable to 1.7x.
Normally on an iPhone, you zoom in by pinching the screen.
But you can engage the “optical” zoom on the following iPhone models:
- iPhone 7 Plus
- iPhone 8 Plus
- iPhone X
- iPhone XS
- iPhone XS Max
To do it, tap once on the “1x” icon on your screen, and it’ll change to a “2x” icon.
If you’re in a relatively well-lit location, this will switch your iPhone to the 2x telephoto lens.
That means you’ll be getting a true 2x zoom with no fakery – giving you the best possible image.
MOST READ IN TECH
Want to really up your photography game? Check out our guide to taking selfies with the iPhone Portrait Mode.
And read all about the latest iPhone 11 release date rumours circulating online.
Do you know any great iPhone tips or tricks? Let us know in the comments!
Why you’re probably using iPhone camera zoom WRONG – and how to fix it