A close up of a bunch of frosted grass.

Essential iPhone Macro Photography Tips for Beginners

Unlock the world of macro photography on your iPhone. Grasp essential tips to capture stunning close-ups and elevate your mobile photography game.

In this guide, I’ll tell you all about iPhone macro photography.

How to think about macro photos, how to take the shots, any apps and accessories you might need, and tips for getting the best shots possible.

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Macro photography can be a lot of fun, and the results can be stunning.

And, nowadays this field of photography is extremely accessible – all you need is an iPhone to get started.

iPhone Macro Photography: Getting Started

A close up of a bunch of frosted grass.

Credit: Michael Skok

If you have one of the newer iPhones, you just need the phone itself to get started.

For the older models, you’ll need a macro photography iPhone app or an app with macro mode, or a macro lens.

Either way, it won’t be long before you’re snapping those tiny details.

Using iPhone’s Macro Mode

A ladybug sits on top of a yellow flower.

Credit: Dustin Humes

Some of the newer iPhones come with a built-in macro mode that you can use directly from the Camera app.

The models that have this macro mode function are the iPhone 13 Pro, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max.

They use the ultra-wide camera on the body to achieve this.

Also, it’s worth noting that that macro mode doesn’t only shoot stills. You can also make macro slow-motion and time-lapse videos.

To take a macro photo, you first need to open the camera app, and then select Photo Mode.

All you need to do is get really close to whatever it is you’re photographing (up to 2 centimetres away), and the iPhone will automatically switch to the ultra-wide camera lens and enter macro mode.

Then, just snap away.

Although this happens automatically, you can also take manual control over when the camera switches to the ultra-wide lens for macro photography.

For this, go into your Settings, and select Macro Control. Then, open your camera and get close to your subject.

When the camera gets within macro range, a little flower symbol pops up, and if you tap it, it will turn off the automatic macro switching.

If you always want manual macro control, though, you need to go into your Settings again now and Preserve Settings in the Camera app. Even if you take manual control once, the camera will revert to automatic macro switching the next time.

Using a Macro Lens

A close up of a green leaf.

Credit: Gildardo GH

For older iPhones, that is, the iPhone 12 and earlier, you can still do macro photography but, as the iPhone won’t have an ultra-wide lens, you’ll need an iPhone camera accessory lens to help you.

A few of the best iPhone macro lenses on the market are:

Xenvo Pro Lens Kit – This offers a 15x macro lens, as well as a wide-angle lens. It’s a well-built budget lens, made of metal and high-quality glass. The image quality is sharp too. Because it’s clip-mounted, it can be a little difficult to use with dual-lens iPhones, so it’s more suitable for the older models that just have single lenses.

Moment Macro Lens –  This 10x magnification macro lens is not cheap, but it’s great quality. It’s constructed from aerospace-grade aluminium and the lens is cinema-quality glass. Image quality is exceptional, with pin-sharp photos and no chromatic aberration or distortion.

Apexel Professional Macro Photography Lens – Also a clip-on lens, this is a high-performing option that’s also easy on the wallet. It has a sturdy build and great optical quality.

Using a Macro App

A bee on a purple flower.

Credit: Dominik Luckmann

If you don’t have an iPhone that’s naturally capable of taking macro photographs, you can always use an iOS app to help you.

Here are some:

Macro by Camera + – Specifically designed as a macro mode photography app and nothing else, it uses intelligent (and secret) technology, to use your native lenses for macro photos. It has EV controls and focus peaking, so you can manually adjust your exposure, and fine-tune your focus.

Halide Mark II – Pro Camera – This is a very popular and extremely powerful app for all of your photography needs. It contains high-end photography tools and features, and the one that’s relevant to us here is the Macro Mode. It is compatible with all iPhones from the iPhone 8 onwards, and it uses neural networks to upscale, crop, enhance, and magnify images to macro resolutions.

Camera +: Pro Camera & Editor – Another all-in-one photo app, this is basically a much more powerful version of your native camera app. So, you can take photos with, edit those photos in the app, and use its Macro Mode, which is basically the same feature as the Macro by Camera + app up there but bundled into a bigger package.

Focus Stacker – This app will help you get pin-sharp macro images with increased depth of field. Most macro photos you take will have a shallow depth of field, but if you take multiple images from different distances from your subject, this app will take all the sharpest areas from each photo and stitch them together. So, you end up with a macro image with everything in focus. It’s a bit different to the other apps on this list, as you need to move your photos onto your computer to use this app.

A close up of a flower.

Credit: Soumalya Mandal

Other Accessories


One of the most important things you need for good macro photos is good lighting.

It’s often best to use natural light, but this can sometimes cause problems.

You can’t control its power or direction, so you have to work around it. Sometimes that means your body will be blocking the light.

There may not be enough of it, which can lead to poorly exposed, grainy, or blurry photos.

So, you can use your own lighting.

You can figure something out using lamps, flashlights, or camera flashes, but there are also lighting accessories made for iPhones: ring lights, LED lights and cubes, and colour panels.


Keeping your iPhone steady during macro photography shoots is essential.

As you are working at extreme magnifications, even the smallest movements can make the camera shake, and you won’t get the shot.

There are a range of full-size and mini-tripods made for iPhones, so you have no excuse not to get one.


Whether you’re using natural or artificial light, a  diffuser is essential, especially for taking outdoor macro photos.

You will have more control over the light and shadows, which will give your final images a more balanced look.

Diffusers are very cheap, but you don’t even have to buy one. A sheet of white paper will do if you’re on a budget.

A tomato with water droplets on it.

Credit: Sheeyam

Spray bottle

If you’re shooting flowers, insects, plants, or food (depending on the food) a fine mist of water droplets can add a little extra something to your shot.

Use a water spray bottle to lightly mist the air above your subject, letting the droplets fall onto it.

Plants and flowers will look fresh and dewy, without you having to get up at sunrise for the real dew.

Brush and tweezers

You’d be surprised by how much dirt and dust you can see on things when you zoom in really close.

And, as macro photography is all about magnification, those pesky particles are going to bother you a lot, especially if you’re shooting in a studio setting.

A fine brush will help you deal with most of them, and anything that gets into the cracks.

Tweezers can be used to pick and remove fibres and strands, and they also come in handy for making micro-adjustments to your tiny subject, like slightly shifting a petal, for example.

Rail slide

Technically, this is more for video, but, if you want to focus more on one side of a subject, and want to take a variety of images for focus stacking purposes, these are very useful.

Like a tripod, they’ll hold your phone steady, and then you can also precisely control the movement of your phone to or from a subject.

There are manually operated sliders for those on a budget, and electronic sliders if you want the pro-touch.

A light bulb with wires in it.

Credit: Nicolas Thomas

iPhone Macro Photography: Taking the Shot

  1. Find your subject – whether you’re outside or inside, find what you want to shoot, and prepare to shoot it
  2. Compose your shot – while holding your phone, try out different angles to get the best composition and make sure that your background is clean
  3. Put your iPhone on a tripod – steadiness, steadiness is key. Once you have a composition you’re happy with, put your phone on a tripod to ensure no shaking
  4. Set your lighting – make sure that your subject is lit with nice, even light
  5. Check your settings – exposure, shutter speed, white balance, ISO, etc
  6. Take your macro photos

Something to bear in mind if you’re shooting moving insects, for example, or anything else that won’t stay still, you’ll have no option but to shoot handheld.

If that’s the case, then shoot bursts. You’ll need to shoot a lot of photos to get something usable.

7 iPhone Macro Photography Tips

There are a few things you can do, to make sure you get the macro photos you’ve always dreamed of.

Let’s have a look at what will help you:

Find the right subject

A close up of a red rose against a black background.

Credit: James Lee

Not everything looks great close-up, but you’ll find this out as you shoot.

Other than trial and error, one of the best ways to figure out what will be a good subject is to try to think small.

Imagine you are tiny, and then imagine how the world would look if you were.

When you start to see the world differently, you’ll start to notice all the macro possibilities.

Lock the focus

Although the iPhone’s autofocus is good, it can often jump to other points in the frame if you’re not careful.

Lock the autofocus by tapping the autofocus point and holding it down until the AE/AF lock appears.

That will keep the camera focused on your subject wherever you move the camera, and it will only move the focal point if you tap the screen again.

(Or shoot in manual mode)

A drop of water on a blade of grass.

Credit: Aaron Burden

This will give you ultimate control over your focal point, plus your exposure and other settings.

Find good light

If you’re shooting outdoors, this will mean choosing a time of day when the light is soft, or using a diffuser to make direct sunlight less harsh.

It also means moving around to see how the light hits your subject from different angles.

If you’re inside or in a studio setting, it means positioning your subject by a natural source of diffused light, like a large window with curtains, or using your own artificial light source.

Use clean backgrounds

A fly flying over a flower.

Credit: Jacek Dylag

Too much clutter takes the focus away from the detail of your macro image.

Make sure you consider carefully what can be seen in the background, and remove anything distracting.

Don’t get too close

Get too close and you’ll get a blurred-out image. No one wants that.

The iPhone ultra-wide camera, and add-on macro lenses, have minimum focal distances, and they must be respected.

But, given the high-resolution sensors in the new iPhones, you can still crop in further in post-production with no loss of image quality. That will make it look as if you got closer than you did.

Shoot in RAW

A close up of a butterfly's wing.

Credit: Zdenek Machacek

Of course, you can shoot jpegs and edit them on your phone in an app like Snapseed.

But, iPhones generally allow you to shoot RAW files and if you do this, you’ll be able to get into much more detail with your shots.

Macro photos are all about the details, so the more latitude you have to play around with contrast, colours, clarity, and all those high-level tools, the better your images will be.

Post-Processing Macro Shots on Your iPhone

A green frog.

Credit: Paul Kapischka

You can edit jpegs and DNG RAW files on your iPhone using an app like Snapseed.

Snapseed is a very easy-to-use and powerful photo editing app with which you can manipulate all the elements of your photos.

There’s also the Adobe Lightroom app, which would be my first choice if you were shooting any format of RAW file.

Macro photography is detail-orientated, so the more work you can do on bringing out those details, the better.

Lightroom is an exceptionally powerful software, used by professionals, but still easy to learn your way around.

You can adjust levels, curves, colours, contrast, saturation, white balance, and many more things that will take your macro images to another level.

One of the best things about Lightroom, too, is that, as it’s subscription-based, and that subscription gets you the whole Lightroom package, your photos and edits are synced with your other devices.

So, if you’re going blind from editing a photo on your iPhone screen, you can easily continue the editing process on your computer.


Can you do macro photography with an iPhone?

Yes, you can.

With their high-quality lenses and high-resolution image files, they’re more than capable.

Also, because iPhones are relatively small and light, compared to cameras, they’re much easier to maneuver.

This means that it’s a breeze to move them around and experiment with different angles.

Which iPhone is best for macro photography?

While you can use any iPhone for macro photography (if you use a macro lens), the best iPhones for macro photography are the latest models, as they have the ultra-wide lens that the phone uses for macro photography.

The iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and the iPhone 14 Pro Max, all have this ability.

How do I enable macro mode on my iPhone?

To take a macro photo with your iPhone, you should open the camera app, and then select Photo Mode.

Then you need to get close to whatever it is you’re photographing (up to 2 centimetres away), and the iPhone will automatically switch to the ultra-wide camera lens, and voila, you are doing macro photography.

Is there a macro lens app for iPhone?

There are a few great macro lens apps for iPhone.

Camera+ and Halide Mark II are all-in-one, powerful photography apps that also both have a macro mode.

Macro for Camera + is a simple, standalone macro mode photography app that will enable you to take macro photos, only macro photos.

And Focus Stacker is a desktop app. Take multiple photos of a subject, import them, and let the app make an image with an increased depth of field.

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Want to learn how to take AMAZING photos with your iPhone? Discover hundreds of exciting secrets to totally transform your iPhone photography with this course!

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Shotkit Writer, Product Tester & Instagram Manager

Jeff Collier is an experienced film photographer who enjoys experimenting with modern digital photography equipment, software and apps. He’s also an ex-world champion triathlete and avid cyclist, clocking hundreds of km each week in the beautiful Tweed Valley of northern NSW, Australia.

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