How to use iPhone 11 Pro's ultra wide-angle camera to take awesome pictures

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:



1. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 612; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

Is it me or from these pics I prefer the main camera shots?? Especially from the tractor photo's?

2. User123456789

Posts: 1108; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Wide has overexposed background, UWA does not. I prefer the WB of UWA.

20. vincelongman

Posts: 5746; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Yea, the boat and beach scenes look pretty terrible on the wide Way too overexposed, the skies are completely blown out Like if Smart HDR was turned off, maybe Deep Fusion activated?

3. peschiera

Posts: 51; Member since: Sep 17, 2017

"Another good use for the ultra wide-angle is when you want to exaggerate the proportions of your subject a bit. " Sorry Milen, but this can be a joke only! If you want to take pictures, you want them in correct proportions. But if you use a wide-angle lens, it can happen that the proportions are not correct, but you have to accept it. But I would never call a limitation of a lens as a feature, even if I loved iPhones!

4. Milen_Y

Posts: 115; Member since: Jun 09, 2016

Not sure what you're getting at here. First off, the perspective distortion in the ultra wide-angle lens is not necessarily a "limitation," but rather an intrinsic characteristic of the lens that's a result from its much wider angle of view. By the same logic, one could argue that the other cameras are "limited" because they can't capture as much as the ultra wide-angle. Either way, different focal lengths are good for different things and have different characteristics that you need to work around or incorporate in your work (which is an entirely subjective process). Also, I don't "love" iPhones. I accept them for what they are, with all of their advantages and disadvantages, just like all other phones. But in case you're interested, my current daily driver is a Galaxy S10 (has been since day one). It also has an ultra wide-angle camera that I love using :)

24. Well-Manicured-Man

Posts: 708; Member since: Jun 16, 2015

Milen, as you obviously have more knowledge than me in photography, can you explain/ give your opinion why the photos from the ultra wide lens seem to have more dynamic range in the photos than the wide lens main camera? It becomes obvious when looking at the sky. The ultra wide lens produces much nicer images. I am asking because I want to understand when to use which lens.

30. RajRicardo

Posts: 503; Member since: Feb 28, 2014

Guess he forgot to edit the main camera photos.

8. rsiders

Posts: 1996; Member since: Nov 17, 2011

What are you even saying? He used the ultrawide exactly for it's unique perspective which worked for the shot.

5. Wazupmrg

Posts: 196; Member since: Apr 10, 2017

Wow, another camera how to with apple. Never saw this amount of attention with the S10+ or Note 10+. Biased much? Pathetic..... PS: where's the article showing the Fold continues to sell out world wide? Ah yes, it's not Apple, that's why. You guys are now almost as bad as bgr.

9. midan

Posts: 3102; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

"where's the article showing the Fold continues to sell out world wide?" maybe because we are talking about very small amount of unit sales? Also worlwide? it's not even available worlwide? Also why wouldn't they wrote about this great camera? How hard is it to accept that iPhone Pro is THE phone now?

13. Deadeye

Posts: 131; Member since: Jul 26, 2019

Why? Because it´s nothing special. When it came out, most of the android world just yawned. It´s certainly THE phone for you given the fact you have an Apple logo in your avatar, but that´s it. No need to project your bias onto others.

14. midan

Posts: 3102; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You are wrong about Everything, even Android people are impressed, Especially about the battery life and camera. Look those comments, doesn't sound like yawn to me ;) Sorry it's THE phone currently and will going to be for a long time. For example when deep fusion comes Everyone going to talk about it, it's a real game changer for mobile photography.

10. ivan.k

Posts: 36; Member since: Jan 29, 2014

@Wazupmrg: I never understand users like you - maybe you don't use/have the phone, you are not interested, not even keen on the manufacturer BUT writing a comment, just to criticize the site. I'm sure if I check all your comments, there will be plenty of them. Do you write such comments in every site that doesn't have How-To for the Fold?

6. midan

Posts: 3102; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Ultra wide makes very good looking concert photos from up close! For concert photography it gives great movement, character and edge for artists and bands. And i'm absolutely loving the results! it gives the photos very professional look.

11. User123456789

Posts: 1108; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

We can just say point and shoot instead,of any instruction, since it has never had manual mode ( probably reason all tech media only test auto).

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31538; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I think the Pro has about the best camera on the market now, and that includes my Note 10+, it’s just to consistently good. Kudos Apple.

19. Mrmark

Posts: 408; Member since: Jan 26, 2013

Is this a shade article toward Google ?

25. cmdacos

Posts: 4313; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Thankfully my ultra wide isn't as aggressive as iPhones in turning tall structures into the leading tower of Pisa

29. japkoslav

Posts: 1542; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

How to use wide-angle camera on iPhone 11? LOTS of light, tons ... otherwise you are screwed. Seriously, like god damn, that ultrawide is really poor quality lens.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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