The iPhone 11 camera is no slouch. Here are 5 tricks to take stunning photos

Get the most out of your iPhone 11's camera with these tips.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
5 min read

The iPhone 11 and 11 Pro have a lot of new camera features. 

Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Apple's iPhone 12 lineup may be getting all of the attention and praise since its release, but that's only because it's shiny and new. Even if you're not upgrading to Apple's latest and greatest, and instead are using the iPhone 11iPhone 11 Pro or 11 Pro Max, you're bound to be impressed with the cameras' tricks.

All three phones have stellar cameras that bring you enhanced zoom capabilities, a feature called Deep Fusion and the ability capture photos at night -- see here how the iPhone 11's night mode blows us away

Taking pictures is just as easy as it's always been on previous iPhones, but Camera settings you can adjust along with features that just work in the background, like Deep Fusion, are worth knowing about. We'll help you get you started.

Watch this: Lesser-known features inside the iPhone 11

Quick settings are still there

The next time you want to take a group photo with your iPhone and use the built-in timer, you may have a hard time finding the toggle. Apple moved the settings toggles for things like the timer and filters because, well, they aren't used all that often. I personally like the clean look, but at some point, you'll surely need to make an adjustment before you take a picture. 

To view all of the toggles, tap on the arrow that's at the top of the screen if you're holding your iPhone vertically. The arrow will change directions and reveal the various toggles -- flash, live photos, aspect ratio, timer and filters -- and you tap the button again to hide them once you're done. Alternatively, you can also swipe across the viewfinder to reveal the toggles. 


Your quick settings are still there. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

See what the other cameras see

When the iPhone 11 first launched, there was a special feature that let you zoom out on a photo after you captured it. It was confusing and it wasn't all that clear when it would actually work, which I think is why Apple changed it to **View Outside the Frame**. When this feature is turned on, the viewfinder on your iPhone will show you what the iPhone 11's extra cameras can see. For example, if you're taking group photo using the Wide camera, but struggling to get everyone in the shot, you can preview what the ultra-wide camera will capture.

The preview, if you will, is behind the typically black interface where the shutter button and settings are. When this feature is turned on and you switch between cameras, that black area will become transparent to give you a glimpse.

While it may not be as useful as zooming out on a shot after the fact, it's sure to lead to less confusion and a more consistent experience overall. 

If that sounds appealing to you, open the Settings app and select Camera. Scroll down and turn on View Outside the Frame


A photo captured using the iPhone 11's Deep Fusion tech. 

Patrick Holland/CNET

Your photos look better because of Deep Fusion

Ah, yes. Deep Fusion. It's a buzz term that Apple coined when it announced the iPhone 11, and it was later released in iOS 13.2. There isn't a Deep Fusion setting or toggle for you to turn on. Your iPhone 11 will take photos using the new technology when appropriate. CNET's Patrick Holland explains how it works and when Deep Fusion is used in greater detail. 

My advice? Take a photo in an area with medium lighting of an object that has a lot of details, like a pet's face or a colorful blanket, and then zoom in on it to see the finer details. It's pretty impressive, and thankfully, you don't have to do anything. 

Push Night Mode to its limits 

Using the iPhone 11's new Night Mode is something you really don't have to think about. Whenever your iPhone determines there's not enough light available, the Night Mode icon (it looks like a moon with a few lines through it) will show up next to the arrow button. If it's yellow, that means Night Mode is active. 

The button will also display a length of time, such as "1s," (one second) indicating how long it will take to capture the photo, which means that's how long you'll have to hold still after pressing the shutter button.


Adjust Night Mode, including turn it off, by moving the slider up or down. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

When taking a Night Mode photo, you're not left at the mercy of your iPhone. You can adjust or turn off Night Mode by tapping on the Night Mode icon, and then moving the slider next to the shutter button. Set it to 0 to disable Night Mode for the next photo, or adjust the amount of time to increase or decrease the amount of light Night Mode captures.

For example, if you move the timer from 2s to 9s, then your iPhone is going to capture an overall brighter picture, at the risk of overexposure. On the flip side, if you go from 5s to 1s, the end result will likely be a darker photo.

Play around with Night Mode by making those adjustments and have some fun with it.

Compare photos from the iPhone 11 Pro against last year's iPhone XS

See all photos

Fine-tune the zoom

The next time you're at a concert and want to get a closer picture of Taylor Swift, or want to make sure you capture your kid's adorable costume during a school play, take advantage off all three cameras and their respective levels of zoom. 

The iPhone 11 has an ultrawide-angle camera and a wide camera. The iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max have the same two cameras, along with a telephoto camera. All three cameras are 12 megapixels each. 

Regardless of which iPhone you have, the main camera is the wide camera, the option that's labeled "1x" in the camera app. If you want to switch between cameras, you can tap on the zoom option -- either 0.5x or 2x. Your iPhone's viewfinder will immediately zoom in or out.


Scroll up or down to zoom in and out using the iPhone 11's new camera setup. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

But you can fine-tune just how far you want to zoom, in either direction, by long-pressing on the zoom level and then dragging the zoom tool. You can zoom anywhere from 0.5x to 10x by using the new zoom wheel.

Just keep in mind that if you select something other than the three fixed cameras -- 0.5x, 1x, 2x -- your photo quality may suffer due to the camera digitally zooming, instead of using the fixed focal lengths of built-in cameras.

If you're just getting started with your iPhone 11, read our piece about a really easy way to set up your new iPhone 11 or 11 Pro. Once it's set up, these are the first five things you should do with your new iPhone. And then, you should probably get caught up on everything iOS 14 adds to the equation to make the iPhone 11 a truly powerful phone.