How to take great macro photos with the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max

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The iPhone 14 can take some absolutely amazing macro photos. You can get in super close and capture incredible detail in the subject, details that the eye just doesn’t notice.

The iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max uses the Ultra Wide camera to take macro photos, and this camera allows you to get in super close – as close as 2 centimeters – to the subject of your shot.

Also: The one super simple but overlooked way to improve your iPhone photos

As well as taking macro photos, you can take macro Live Photos, and also macro slow-motion and time-lapse videos. The process for getting the best out of the iPhone is the same as taking good macro photos.

Apple has made the macro photo process easy.

Open the camera, get in real close to the subject, and take the photo.

simple.

Well, usually.

Getting in REAL close!

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If the photo looks super blurry, it may be because your iPhone hasn’t switched to the Ultra Wide camera automatically.

When in macro mode, this symbol will be shown on the screen.

Macro mode enabled

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Tapping on this disables macro mode, turning your closeup photo blurry.

If this switch doesn’t happen automatically, tap Settings > Camera and make sure that Macro Control is enabled. This allows the iPhone to switch automatically to the Ultra Wide camera when needed.

If macro mode isn't working, check this setting

If macro mode isn’t working, check this setting

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Another thing to be aware of is that in macro mode, all the zoom settings beyond .5 is a digital zoom (in other words, a crop of the original shot). Quality suffers but it’s convenient, so choose which is important to you.

Getting in even closer with digital zoom

Getting in even closer with digital zoom

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Good macro photos require three things

  • Getting in close
  • A steady hand (or something to hold the camera)
  • ample light

If you’re planning to take macro photos then there are some things that you can do to improve your closeup photography.

First is something to steady your hand. A tripod or a clamp can work. I don’t like to fit my iPhone to tiny tripods because it makes them top-heavy. Instead I use a bigger tripod (lots of downsides here, like size and weight and hassle) or a clamp — such as this Ulanzi Super Clamp — that I can attach to a convenient surface.

Small GoPro tripod (left) and the Ulanzi Super Clamp

Small GoPro tripod (left) and the Ulanzi Super Clamp

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How do I attach my iPhone to a tripod or clamp? Using this really versatile Ulanzi ST-03 phone holder. This easily fits the huge iPhone 14 Pro Maxeven when it’s in a chunky case.

I highly recommend this phone holder, and you can use it to attach all sorts of smartphones to all sorts of clamps and tripods. I’ve had mine for a few years and it’s been flawless.

Ulanzi ST-03 phone holder

Ulanzi ST-03 phone holder

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While most people get away with natural light, having decent lighting can make a huge difference.

If you’re using natural light, then move around the subject taking photos to find the best angle. You be surprised how much difference the angle of the light coming in makes to the final photo. Also, adjusting your angle can allow you to get unwanted reflections out of any shiny surfaces.

If you want to add light, then there are a number of excellent LED lights available. Ideally you want one where you can change the brightness of the light, because very often you need less light than you think.

A light that I’ve been using is the Aputure Amaran MC LED light.

Aputure Amaran MC LED light

Aputure Amaran MC LED light

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If you want to eliminate all ambient light, then a light box — essentially a box that you put items into so you can control the light — comes in super handy. These take some getting used to, but can give you some amazing professional results.

The light box I’ve been using is the Neewer 20-inch x 20-inch photo studio light box.

Top tips for better macro photos

  1. Macro photos show every bit of dirt and dust and scratches on the subject, stuff you don’t notice with your eye, so it’s a good idea to take the time to clean things (I make extensive use of a dust blower). You can use Photoshop to clean up the image if you want a truly flawless, professional finish.
  2. Hold the camera as still as you can.
  3. Take lots of photos from different angles.
  4. Examine the photos for annoying reflections, and change your angles to remove them.
  5. Remember that if you’re using zoom to get in closer, this is a digital zoom and this does gradient the image.

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