If you want to take extreme close-up photography - referred to as macro photography - on your iPhone we have some tips and tricks to get around the usual limitations of the iPhone and even the iPad so that you can get up close to the objects you want to photograph.

How to take macro photos on iPhone

Normally the iPhone handset will take its best photos from a distance of 8-10cm in the normal camera mode, closer than this and you will struggle to focus. But you can bypass this limit.

To do so you need to use a lesser-known magnifying glass function found in the Accessibility settings. This will allow you to take photos from a distance of a few centimeters.

  1. Open Settings > Accessibility.
  2. Turn on Magnifier. You can now add the Magnifying Glass to Control Centre or add it to your Home Screen.
  3. Go back to Settings > Control Centre.
  4. Scroll down until you see Magnifier and tap in it to add it to Control Centre.
  5. Now open Control Centre by swiping from the right corner of your screen.
  6. Tap on the magnifying glass icon.
  7. This will open up the Magnifier. You can hold that up to whatever you wish to take a photo of and see it magnified.
  8. Tap on the circle at the bottom of the screen to take the photo.
  9. This photo will not go directly to your Photos, and if you tap on the share icon in the top right and choose Save Image that will not save the zoomed in image to your image library. However, you can tap on the image in the magnifier so that the tools are hidden and then take a screen grab by pressing the volume control button and the Side button together.

Macro photo iPhone

Unfortunately, such magnifying glass photos lose some of their quality, and the closer you are to the subject, the noisier the photo will be, but using this magnifying glass trick you will be able to zoom in a lot more on your image than you could using the camera alone.

Hopefully a macro lens will appear on the iPhone 13. Read about the new camera features that could be coming to the iPhone 13 here: iPhone 13 camera features coming in 2021.

If you want to take really good macro shots on your iPhone you need to turn to third party hardware or software.

For example, Moment makes a Macro lens, it’s not cheap though. The Macro 10x lens is £114 from Amazon UK,  or $129 from Amazon US or $129.99 directly from Moment.

The Moment lens, as with alternatives, clips onto your iPhone camera lens.

Macro lens for iPhone

You may also want to consider using use burst shooting and making sure that you have good lighting.

We have lots of tips for taking great photos on your iPhone here: iPhone camera tips to take better photos.

How to take macro shots on iPad Pro

When introducing an iPad, Apple rarely focuses on its camera, the focus is mostly on the screen, input pens and the speed with which the graphics are displayed. The camera tends to take a back seat. There was an exception last year when Apple installed the new LiDAR sensor in the camera module.

The developers of Halide - a third party camera app for the iPhone and iPad - have examined the 2021 iPad Pro’s photo qualities and made some interesting discoveries. The rear camera of the iPad Pro looks identical to its predecessor on paper, but the developers discovered that the iPad Pro camera can actually take macro shots.

If you want to take macro shots with the 2021 iPad Pro here’s what you need to do:

  1. Switch off auto focus by pressing your finger on the camera screen to turn it on and then tap the screen again to turn auto focus off.
  2. Now you can focus the iPad camera on objects that are closer than eight centimeters (which is the minimum distance for focused iPhone photos.)

Why the iPad Pro allows a much closer focus than the iPhone can only be speculated on. Halide developer Sebastian de Witt suggests that Apple has significantly more room for sensors and lenses in the housing of the iPad Pro. As a result, despite the significantly smaller photo sensor, the iPad can take amazingly good macro photos.

Read our review of the iPad Pro 2021.