CNET logo Why You Can Trust CNET

Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement

Here's how everyone's taking those gorgeous close-up shots with their iPhone

You no longer need to buy a separate lens to take macro photos with your iPhone.

Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon headshot
Andrew Lanxon Editor At Large, Lead Photographer, Europe
Andrew is CNET's go-to guy for product coverage and lead photographer for Europe. When not testing the latest phones, he can normally be found with his camera in hand, behind his drums or eating his stash of home-cooked food. Sometimes all at once.
Expertise Smartphones, Photography, iOS, Android, gaming, outdoor pursuits Credentials
  • Shortlisted for British Photography Awards 2022, Commended in Landscape Photographer of the Year 2022
Andrew Lanxon
3 min read
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

You used to need an additional clip-on lens to take proper macro (close-up) photos on an iPhone. But if you've just unboxed a new iPhone 13 Pro, you may have discovered that Apple's newest flagship phone has a built-in Macro mode, which allows you to take detailed macro photos using the wide-angle lens. By equipping the wide lens on the iPhone 13 with auto focus, Apple allowed the phone to focus as close as 2 centimeters from an object -- ideal for getting up close and personal.


Curious about how to take macro photos with your new iPhone? Let us walk you through how Apple's new macro mode works and how to use it to get cool close-up shots. Plus, check out our tips for taking better landscape photos on your phone, how to take dreamy long-exposure shots on an iPhone, and find out if you're taking portrait mode iPhone photos wrong.

Here's how to take your own macro images with the iPhone 13

First up, open the standard camera app. Right now there are no additional settings or buttons or anything that hints at this new macro skill. All you do is fire up the camera and as you move closer to your subject the phone will automatically switch into wide-angle mode and allow for that close focusing. 


As I moved the camera closer to these berries, it automatically switched into macro mode, allowing me to focus much closer to the camera.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

That does sometimes make it difficult to figure out whether the phone is in macro mode or not. Apple will soon send out an update that will let you toggle macro on and off, to avoid exactly that confusion. Alternatively you can tap the 0.5 button first and switch to the wide lens before you start shooting. 

Then it's just a case of getting close up, ensuring your subject is still in focus and tapping the shutter button.

Read more: These are the best iPhone 13 cases, best MagSafe chargers and best iPhone photography accessories.


Textures on leaves or on tree bark can often look amazing when viewed up close with a macro lens.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Finding the right macro subject

Given that you'll be holding your phone close to whatever you're shooting, only certain subjects will work in macro. Perhaps obviously, you need to think small: Insects, flower petals and fungi often work well in macro. In fact, the natural world has a wealth of opportunity for lovely macro shots, so pop on your hiking boots and head into the forest.

Getting your phone so close to your subject does mean it's easy to block the light, casting your subject into shadow. If so, try and move around your subject to get an angle that lets in the light, or consider trying these pro macro-shot tricks to help brighten the scene. 


Shot in ProRaw, I was able to make some small tweaks to the contrast, colors and sharpness on this image of a fly to help make it pop even more. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Shoot in ProRaw, edit later

While you can take great snaps straight out of the camera, if you tap the Raw icon at the top left corner of the screen, you'll be able to shoot in Apple's ProRaw format. This gives a lot more scope for editing images later in apps like Adobe Lightroom or Snapseed. If you're keen to take more artistic images of the tiny things you find, editing your shots is a step you should absolutely consider.