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Macro Photography on the iPhone 13 Pro

Apple’s latest “Pro” iPhones — the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max — have a new feature distinguishing them from all other iPhones before them. That feature is a macro photography mode. The two high-end iPhones can take ultra closeup photos of flowers, insects, coins or anything else as close as 2 cm to the lens. Here’s how to use macro mode.


Macro photography mode is automatic!

1 – Make sure you’re in the default iPhone Camera app. If you plan to take a photo, make sure Photo mode is enabled. For macro video, swipe to Video.

2 – Move in closer to the object you’re photographing. Remember that it’s possible to get within 2 cm (that’s about 0.79 inches) of the object. You can also use the zoom control on the viewfinder to get “closer” if you wish.

Macro mode automatically switches from the normal wide lens to the ultra-wide lens when the object you’re photographing moves within 5.5 inches (13.97 cm). This is useful in that the user doesn’t need to make a manual switch, but it can also be disconcerting if you’re not expecting it. Just realize that your viewfinder suddenly “jumps” when the phone is within that 5.5 inch range.

3 – Hold the phone as still as you can, or consider using a tripod. Once the phone achieves focus, tap the shutter button to take the photo or begin shooting video. For video, remember to tap the shutter button again to end the recording.


Examples

Let’s take a look at what the macro photography mode on the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max can do. I love to take pictures of flowers, and Mother Nature has been very good this Colorado November as I still have petunias, dying snapdragons, and dandelions to take photos of. These are all handheld photos!

iPhone 13 Pro Macro Mode
Petunia, Macro Photography Mode. iPhone 13 Pro Max, ISO 32, 77mm, ƒ1.8, 1/243 second
iPhone 13 Pro Macro Mode
Dandelion, Macro Photography Mode. iPhone 13 Pro Max, ISO 32, 26mm, ƒ1.8, 1/1468 second
iPhone 13 Pro Macro Mode
Rock, Macro Photography Mode, iPhone 13 Pro Max, ISO 1000, 26mm, ƒ1.8, 1/30 second
Beadwork, side-by-side comparison, normal wide lens, ultra-wide lens in macro photography mode
Store receipt side by side comparison, normal wide lens, ultra-wide lens in macro photography mode

Macro photography mode versus accessory macro lenses

Accessory manufacturers have been selling add-on lenses for the iPhone for almost as long as it has existed. Some are telephoto lenses meant to make faraway objects appear closer, while others are designed for macro photography. In my opinion, Apple just killed the market for add-on macro lenses.

Those accessory lenses have always been problematic in that they needed to be purchased almost every year if you swapped out your iPhone. While some were inexpensive — and produced bad results — some were quite pricey and produced equally bad results.

Macro images taken with accessory lenses were often marred by vignetting (shadowing) around the edges. I found that most of them also had less depth of field than the iPhone 13 Pro ultra-wide lens.

How to turn off automatic macro mode

Perhaps you’re not thrilled by the “shift” in automatic macro mode. If so, Apple took care of you in iOS 15.1 by making it possible to turn the mode off.

1 – Launch Settings

2 – Scroll down to Camera

3 – Scroll down to Auto Macro (on the bottom of the Camera window)

Tap the Auto Macro button to disable the automatic macro mode

4 – Tap the Auto Macro button to disable the automatic macro mode (red arrow in screenshot above)


With the macro photography mode on the iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max, Apple has made the built-in cameras of the pro phones even more useful. For those readers with one of these amazing phones, give macro photos a try!


Steve Sande
the authorSteve Sande
Contributing Author
Steve has been writing about Apple products since 1986, starting on a bulletin board system, creating the first of his many Apple-related websites in 1994, joining the staff of The Unofficial Apple Weblog in 2008, and founding Apple World Today in 2015. He’s semi-retired, loves to camp and take photos, and is an FAA-licensed drone pilot.
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