For the iPhone 13 cycle, Apple has pushed the camera set on its Pro lineup to fun, new levels. Of the latest features, Macro mode will become an instant hit on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, two of the best iPhones on the market.
Here's a look at the new camera tool and how early criticism about it was finally resolved.
What is the Macro mode?
The Macro mode uses the iPhone 13 Pro's Ultra-Wide camera and autofocus system to focus at just 2 cm. As Apple explains, you can "capture a caterpillar's fuzz. Magnify a dewdrop. The beauty of tiny awaits."
Although the iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 mini also have Ultra Wide cameras, they don't support Macro mode.
How Macro mode works
Using Macro mode on the iPhone 13 series is a simple process that happens automatically, like all things Apple. There are no extra taps necessary to get it to work. If you're on the regular 1x Wide Camera, bring your device closer to the subject, and it'll activate automatically. The autofocus used for Macro mode is done through the Ultra-Wide lens, but it still retains the crop of the 1x Wide lens. The Macro mode works for distances from 2 cm or 0.78-inches with photos and video. To take the best shots, be sure to have a lot of light.
Here's how Apple explains Macro mode:
Here are three examples from Apple showing Macro mode in action; we'll add some of our own later:
The details are incredible, no?
Not everyone was happy
Some of the early iPhone 13 Pro reviewers dinged Apple for some aspects of the autofocus system related to Macro mode. When an object or subject comes within 5.5-inches of the rear Camera, the system automatically shifts from the device's Wide lens to the Ultra-Wide lens. Apple says the automatic camera shifting on the iPhone 13 Pro series was designed to capture better close-up details for all three cameras.
However, not everyone is thrilled, including Input's Raymond Wong, who explains:
Because the framing automatically changes from what you — the person taking the shot or recording the video — might intend to capture. I welcome greater detail for close-ups, and it's clever that Apple is using the ultrawide to augment the 1x wide and 3x telephoto at short distances, but the transitioning of cameras is disorienting. Apple makes no mention of this camera switching/augmenting on its iPhone 13 Pro website. I get that it's supposed to be one of those "it just works" features. At least that was Apple's intention I'm told, but it just doesn't.
The automatic camera switching occurs for photo-taking and videos. In this example from Wong, you can see how disruptive the automatic changing of the frame can be:
Here's an example of the automatic switch appearing when taking video:
Help is on the way
Thanks to Wong's prodding, Apple has made it possible to have better Macro control when shooting at close distances for photography and video. It arrives via the iOS 15.2 update.
With iOS 15.2 installed on your supported iPhone:
- Tap on the Settings app on your handheld.
- Choose Camera.
Scroll down, toggle on Macro Control.
When you have this toggle enabled, you'll now see the Macro mode icon in the Camera app.
Macro mode is off to a terrific start, and the new Macro control toggle is an excellent addition. It will be interesting to see how Apple further improves the tool over the coming months.