Camera Operation

The iOS 8 camera app looks very similar to the previous version, with a shutter button, mode selector and filter access to the right and self-timer, front camera switch, HDR button and flash settings on the left side of the user interface.

Like previous models the new iPhones do not come with a physical camera button, so to open the camera app you have to tap the icon on the home screen or slide the shortcut on the lock-screen. The latter even works when the phone is passcode-locked but you can’t do anything other than shoot and review pictures (only those taken in the same session) until you properly unlock the phone.

Once the app is open you'll see that despite some changes that have come with the introduction of iOS 8, Apple has maintained both the layout and simplicity of previous versions. The latter stands in pleasant contrast to some of the overloaded default apps on Android phones from Samsung, HTC or Sony. 

As before, the camera focuses continuously, with a yellow square briefly appearing to confirm focus. You can tap the screen to manually set the focus point and the exposure is biased towards that part of the scene. However, on iOS 8 the iPhone now offers exposure compensation in the native camera app for the first time.

After tapping to set the focus an icon appears next to the focus indicator and you can adjust exposure by swiping up or down. The control feels a little sluggish and it requires approximately three full swipes to go from zero compensation to the maximum positive or negative setting. Nevertheless, exposure compensation is a welcome new addition to the iPhone camera app and no doubt a useful tool in difficult lighting situations. You can also still lock both focus and exposure by tapping and holding and trigger burst mode by pressing and holding the shutter button.

Exposure compensation can be applied by swiping up or down once the sun-symbol next to the AF-indicator has appeared.
1:1 aspect ratio has a dedicated mode on the roller selector.

Next to the shutter button you find a scrolling selector that allows you to switch between photo, video, slow-motion, time-lapse, panorama and square modes. To do so you can simply swipe up or down anywhere on the screen. An icon in the top right corner gives you access to the iPhone's live filters and on the left you find buttons for the front camera, self-timer, HDR mode and flash settings. As before the entire UI can be flipped around by flipping the phone which should make things easier for left-handed mobile photographers.

As in previous versions the new iPhone camera app does not allow any access to menus but a framing grid, 60fps video mode and the option to save a standard exposure when shooting in HDR mode are available in the camera section of the iPhone settings. 

Overall the default camera app offers a simple and intuitive user interface but hardly any control over shooting parameters. However, mobile photographers who prefer to set white balance, ISO, shutter speed or video and image resolution manually can choose from a large number of third party apps in the App Store, including Camera645, ProCamera, Camera+ and the new Manual and Manual Cam apps.