How to use iPhone 11 Pro's ultra wide-angle camera to take awesome pictures
Pictures in header image edited using the iOS 13 Photos app. For more results, check out the gallery at the end of the article.
Wide angle lenses on smartphones are nothing new. In fact, the de-facto standard for smartphone cameras is wide angle, as the so-called "regular" lens that every phone is outfitted is in the range of 26-28mm. But in recent years, we've been seeing more companies adding an ultra wide-angle to the mix, which has opened up more possibilities for different types of mobile photography.
Apple is the latest company to join the ultra wide crowd, and while doing a recent camera comparison between the iPhone 11 Pro and older models, I thought it would be nice to explore what the new ultra wide camera can do. Switching to the new focal length can be overwhelming at first – you get so much more stuff in the frame, but at the same time, it's easy to lose track of what your subject is and end up with a photo that is too busy and distracting.
With this in mind, let's see how make the best use of the ultra wide-angle camera on the iPhone 11 Pro!
Three simple things to keep in mind:
1. Have a clear subject
2. Don't just fill the frame with more things
3. Avoid taking portraits with the ultra wide-angle camera
The ultra wide-angle camera produces a very particular look due to its extremely wide field of view and perspective distortion. This characteristic lends itself particularly well, for example, for shooting street or landscapes, but can be very unflattering for portrait photography. Of course, everything is subjective in art, so feel free to experiment to your heart's content, but you may still want to keep in mind these simple tips.
Now, let's have a look at some examples:
Both pictures were taken at the same distance from the boat (about 5.5 ft), but the first one was shot using the main camera, which has a focal length equivalent to 26mm, while the second shot was taken using the ultra wide camera, which has a 13mm lens (it's twice as wide).
The difference is obvious – I was able to fit in more of the environment using the ultra wide-angle lens. I could have achieved a similar result by using the main camera and backing away, but there were thick bushes behind me, preventing me from doing so. This is a good scenario for using the ultra wide-angle lens, as it allows you to capture more of the environment, even when you don't have ample room to move around.
Another good use for the ultra wide-angle is when you want to exaggerate the proportions of your subject a bit. In this case, it was this awesome green tractor carrying a haystack. I shot the ultra wide-angle photo first and then stepped away to approximate the angle of view on the main camera.
The ultra wide-angle worked particularly well for this scene, as it allowed me to really put the tractor front and center, all the while getting enough of the background and the nice blue sky in the shot. The exaggerated perspective also really accentuates the size of the machine, though whether you like the barrel distortion or not is down to personal taste. In this scenario, I think it works well for what I was trying to achieve.
This shot was taken at around 5ft from the bush on both cameras. As you can see, the ultra wide-angle allowed me to capture much more of the scene, though, on the other hand, the picture is darker. That's down to the fact that the ultra wide-angle camera on the iPhone 11 Pro has an f/2.4 aperture, while the main camera is at f/1.8, which allows it to capture more light. Still, in this scenario, I would opt for the wide-angle, as some light editing in the Photos app itself will get me the same result as the main camera, exposure-wise.
Speaking of editing, here are some more examples of appropriate use for the ultra wide-angle camera. I have taken the liberty of editing them in the iOS 13 Photos app – both for fun, and to showcase how easily the shots can be enhanced without much tinkering. Of course, as with anything else photography- and art-related, the editing process is entirely up to the photographer's taste. Still, here's a gallery of more samples, edited using the Apple Photos app: