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Macro photos with an iPhone


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Apologies if I am the last guy on the planet (or at least these forums) to know this, but I just discovered how to take macro photos on my iPhone. 

First go to the Magnifier tool, found in your Control Center, which you get to by swiping down from the upper right corner of the screen.  I understand you may have to activate the tool by going to the Accessibility settings.  In the first photo below (my Control Center), it's the button at the bottom with the magnifying glass.  Then use it to zoom in on what you want to photograph, push the button at the bottom of the screen (or side if you're holding the phone in landscape mode) to take a "picture" (in quotes because it's not saved with your photos yet.  Then take a screen shot (right button and upper left button on the sides of the phone).  You can then find the screenshot in Photos, or Google Photos, or whatever, and crop it as desired.  Undoubtedly not professional quality, but plenty good enough to post photos of tiny parts on these forums.

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Another possibility is, when you point yiur camera in the direction of something, putting two fingers on th screen, and zooming in. On my Ipohone, you can get a magnification of up to 5 times.

 

(don't know in which version this functionality was introduced.)

 

Jan

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Jan is right, you can get close ups simply by zooming with the camera, but the article I read about the method described above says that you can zoom in closer using the magnifier tool.  I fooled around with my phone a bit and there is no question, you can get a closer detail photo with that tool. You can get close enough that it becomes difficult to hold the phone still enough.  Why you can zoom closer with the magnifier than you can with the camera makes no sense to me, but it certainly appears to be the case.  So going forward, I intend to try to get as close as I want with the camera, and if that isn't enough, I'll use the magnifier tool.

 

With all of that having been said, the iPhone does not have a true macro lens.  All you're doing is taking a small portion of the picture and blowing it up, with the result that the resolution gets lower and lower the closer you zoom in.  Inadequate for professional purposes, but good enough in my view for pictures of tiny parts and small detail on a model.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm always amazed by the features of an iPhone. You could spend your entire life discovering the tricks it will do and never catch up with the Apple programmers creative upgrades. It's really too bad they don't sell these things with an instruction manual!  (I suspect there's an app for that, too!) :D

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Posted (edited)

Tom makes an important point!

 

Phone cameras have fixed lenses that do not zoom. When you magnify the image on the screen you are not actually changing the focal length as in actual zoom lenses. Instead it takes single pixels and expands them to 4, 9, 16, ... pixels. This would produce a really "chunky" image with huge jaggies but the software blurs adjacent pixels to reduce the undesirable jaggies. But the result is a blurrier image with less sharp detail.

 

Some cameras claim to have "macro" lenses, but they always have far fewer pixels than the regular or wide angle lenses. I am suspicious that all they are doing is just taking the small center part of the image of the wider angle lens for the "macro" photo and discarding the rest. So the actual 12 megapixel image is just cropped to 4-6 megapixels.

 

Likewise, some cameras claim to have enormous number of pixels for wide angle photos, more than high level "professional" camera bodies costing $5000-$6000. I am skeptical about this - it may be marketing BS. They may be repeating a digital scanner scam where an image is actually scanned at X pixels resolution and then expanded in software to something like 4X pixels. An actual 12 megapixel image is blown up to 48 megapixels. Again, the results are blurrier than the actual optical resolution of the photo element. You can't get something for nothing!

 

But at least one phone I know of has a sliding lens carrier that moves different focal length lenses in front of the same photo element. It has real wide angle, portrait and macro lenses.  In this case every image has the same number of pixels.

 

Having said all of this the only really important things is whether or not you are satisfied with the photo you get. If it is too blurry, zoom out and try again. I have seen some very nice close-up photos made with phones!

Edited by Dr PR
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  • 3 weeks later...

Indeed, the 'magnification' is only done by software: when you save the photo you have just taken (not the screenshot), you get a normal-sized picture. When you 'zoom' the (i)phone just saves the cropped image, but the actual resolution stays the same. 

 

I do not bother with these fake zoom functions, but take a picture as close as the focal distance permits and then do all the cropping and post-processing in e.g. Adobe Photoshop.

 

In order to avoid motion blur from your trembling hands, it is a good idea to get a Bluetooth remote control (as the come e.g. with 'selfie-sticks') - then you don't need to type on the phone. Some selfie-sticks also convert into table-top tripods, which reduce the blur even further.

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My grandson asked me to order one of these for his iPhone. I was shocked how well it worked. I thought for the small price it was probably junk, but I was wrong.

 

Amazon.com: Cell Phone Camera Lens Kit, SEVENKA 18X Zoom Telephoto Lens with Remote Shutter, Tripod, Fisheye, Macro and Wide Angle Lens for iPhone 11 Pro Max X XS Max XR/8/7/6/6s Samsung Android Smartphone : Cell Phones & Accessories

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Just now, wefalck said:

Yep, have one of those too. However, the 'macro' lens turned out to be too macro for our purposes.

What is the focal length of it? I have not seen that macro lens in action. My grandson wanted the zoom function for his hunting exploits, and that part worked well for him.

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40 minutes ago, wefalck said:

One problem I have with close-ups and 'macros' using the iPhone is that it is very difficult to target the focal plane - there no really good manual focus.

 

You need a focusing rail, here are 2 on top of each other. The idea is to have a cart sliding on a rail with a screw or a motor to adjust the focusing distance.

 

IMAG0026.jpg

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Yes, I have had such a slide since the early 1970s for my SLR (Novoflex, together with the bellows and all that gear), but getting the iPhone focus to stay at the place where you want it to is not so easy, as it tends to adjust itself all the time ...

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