How to Use Focus & Exposure Lock with the iPhone Camera

Apr 27, 2012 - 9 Comments

Focus and exposure lock on iPhone camera

You probably know that tapping once on the screen within the Camera app will cause the iPhone to automatically focus and adjust exposure to that region, but if you’re trying to take a picture with challenging lighting or depth conditions the auto adjustments are not always ideal. Instead, use focus and exposure lock to get the exact lighting and focus you want out of a picture:

  1. Open the Camera app as usual and aim it at whatever you want to take a picture of
  2. Tap and hold on the region of the screen where you want focus and exposure to be locked onto
  3. When “AE/EF Lock” appears on the bottom of the screen, the focus and lighting lock is set

You can take a picture right away, but once the lock is set you are free to move the camera around and the lighting and depth settings will stay the same. Tap elsewhere on the screen again at any time to release the AE/EF lock.

The end result of how pictures turn out can be dramatic, especially in situations where lighting matters. In the example picture up top, the left side shot is how the iPhone wanted to automatically set the lighting, and the right side shows the result of locking onto the lightbulb.

Auto-focus and auto-exposure can be stacked with zoom, and it should work on the newest iPad and iPod touch camera too.

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Posted by: Paul Horowitz in iPad, iPhone, Tips & Tricks

9 Comments

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  1. Slater says:

    The AE/AF lock works much better on iPhone 4S than on iPhone 4 in my experience

  2. Josh says:

    Wow, never knew that before.. Thanks!!

  3. Mr J says:

    Thanks for the info – very useful indeed.

    Others may like to know that the same AE/AF lock system works in video mode too.

  4. David says:

    The iPhone Camera is good as far as it goes but with the Camera+ app you get the ability to focus on one spot and set the exposure using another. Plus you can separately lock the focus, exposure, and white balance. Camera+ also has some really nice post processing adjustments such as filters, frames, etc. Camera+ is what I wish the iPhone Camera was.

  5. [...] miss some of our other iPhone photography tips, including how to lock exposure and focus, zoom in and out, take better pictures by using the grid and rule of thirds, and even how to make [...]

  6. [...] pictures of things up close, the tiniest movements can change what the camera is focused on. Use the cameras focus and exposure locking feature when you get the target in focus, then those little shakes and camera wiggles won’t mess up [...]

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  9. [...] can utilize advanced camera features like controlling focus and exposure separately, rather than locking them together like in the default iPhone Camera app. There are also simple options to adjust lighting and [...]

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