7 Important Tips and Apps How to Use Portrait Mode on iPhone

By | March 23, 2022

Portrait Mode allows iPhone users to take stunning shots with depth-of-field (DoF), creating a blurry bokeh effect in the background similar to that of a DSLR camera.

Simply put, DoF is the distance from your lens to your subject that allows it to remain sharp and in focus, while the rest of the image appears blurry.

If you want to take great portraits on iPhone, you need to know how to use Portrait Mode. In this article we offer some useful Portrait Mode tips and apps.

The Question Does Your iPhone Have Portrait Mode

While Portrait Mode is great, it’s only available on certain iPhone models, specifically those with dual camera capabilities.

Current iPhone models with Portrait Mode include:

  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max

Every iPhone from iPhone X and above also has Portrait Mode enabled for the front-facing selfie camera.

How to Use Portrait Mode

It’s easy to start shooting with Portrait Mode. Just follow these steps:

  • Open the Camera app by swiping left on the lock screen, from Control Center, or tapping the Camera icon on your home screen.
  • Select Portrait from the available camera modes, which is located below the viewfinder for iPhone X and up, this also works for the selfie camera.
  • Leave sufficient distance between your device and the subject. When you are satisfied, just tap the shutter button to take a picture.

How to Get Portrait Mode on Your iPhone

Portrait Mode should already be available on your device if you can, and no additional settings are required.

However, if you have an iPhone 7 Plus and have never updated iOS, then you may need to do so to gain access to Portrait Mode. Apple added Portrait Mode for iPhone 7 Plus when iOS 10.1 was available, so you must have 10.1 or later. Those who don’t have a compatible iPhone can try an app that replicates the effects of Portrait Mode.

How to Get Portrait Lighting on Your iPhone

Portrait Lighting is a great feature that allows iPhone photographers to add professional lighting effects to their Portrait Mode photos. Once your subject is framed in Portrait Mode, select the type of exposure you want from the Portrait Lighting button at the bottom of the viewfinder.

Available lighting options include Natural, Studio, Contour, Stage Light, and black and white Stage Light Mono. Each has a different effect, and there’s a live preview so you get an idea of ​​how it affects the portrait.

If you decide you want to change the Portrait Lighting of the photo later, you can. However, it must be a photo taken in Portrait Mode. You cannot add Portrait Lighting to standard photos.

To change the selected Portrait Lighting effect:

  • Open the Photos app and select the photo you want to edit.
  • Tap Edit.
  • Flick through and select the lighting effect you want.
  • Tap Done to save your changes.

When you edit a selected Portrait Lighting effect, it replaces the original. You will not be able to save a copy of the photo with the new lighting effect. However, you can always change it back to the original lighting, or choose another option entirely. There is no limit to the number of edits you can make.

Move Farther to Shoot Better Portrait Mode

When using Portrait Mode, you need a little more distance between you and your subject than usual. This is because Portrait Mode uses a 2X telephoto lens, so the viewfinder zooms in slightly more than standard Photo mode. The message Move further afield appears at the top if you get too close, so just back it up a bit until you’re clear.

Since the depth effect appears in real time, just tap the shutter button once you’re happy with your shot.

How to Edit the Depth Effect on iPhone XS

If you’re using an iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR, your iPhone has the ability to edit the depth effect after you click the shot. You can do it live too.

To edit the depth effect, open the photo in the Photos app and tap on Edit. You will see a slider at the bottom of the photo. This will let you change the background blur from f/16 to f/1.4. Simply put, you can increase or decrease the software blur effect to your liking using the slider.

How to Edit the Depth Effect on Older iPhones

While the default depth effect editing feature is exclusive to newer iPhones, you can get the same features on older iPhones using a third-party app called Focos. In fact, Focos is much better at manipulating depth effects.

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Open the Focos app and select a Portrait shot from your gallery. Then use the slider below to adjust the background blur in real time. Focos has a much better range of blurry backgrounds to an aperture of f/20 and is better at detecting edges and smoothing out rough edges than Apple’s own software. Even if you’re on an iPhone XS, try to see if you can get better edits from Focos.

You will also notice that Focos has various settings and options under the slider. You can change the blur shape type and add color too. While the basic features are free, you’ll need to pay for a Focos subscription to access premium features like blur effects.

Download: focus (Free, subscription available)

How to Make Portrait Mode Portraits Look Better

Photo editing apps like Snapseed help elevate your photos using friendly editing tools as long as you know how to use Snapseed. However, they usually don’t work for Portrait Mode shooting.

This is because Portrait Mode photos contain metadata for the background, foreground, and overall image. So you can edit every detail in three different ways if you wish.

Infltr is an app that does this very well. When you select a portrait photo to edit, you’ll see three icons at the top: Foreground, Background, and All. First select the layer you want to edit, and then from the bottom bar, select editing features. The app offers several filters along with basic editing options for brightness, contrast, highlights and so on.

Download: Infltr (Free, subscription available)

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