I have been taking pictures with the Apple iPhone for several years now, ever since the
iPhone 6. Throughout this time I really had no clue about some of its features. For example, I really never
know what the little yellow rectangle represented. Nor did I know that you can "stop down" with the iPhone,
for much better photos. Further, from time to time "AE/AF Lock" would show up in the display. I had
NO idea how I invoked it, and how I could get it "on purpose".
I purchased an iPhone 7 recently, and took some time to read the manual. What an lens-opener this was!
So, in the words of Siri, "here's what I found":
Want to quickly launch the camera from the screen that appears when you first
tap the Home button?
On iPhone 6/6s, swipe up on the small camera icon that appears on the bottom right.
On iPhone 7 and up, place your finger on the far right of the screen and swipe left.
You can snap a picture or start/stop a video with either of the two volume control buttons!
The little yellow rectangle represents what the instrument will focus on, as well as the point where it will "meter" the light.
The little image of the sun on the right of the yellow rectangle can be used to adjust the exposure darker or brighter.
Selecting a location on the display, and holding your finger on it, locks the exposure and the focus ("AE/AF Lock").
NOTE: All pictures below were taken with an iPhone 7.
Focus Region and Brightness Adjust
When you are in "Camera" mode (photos/videos), you will notice
that a little yellow rectangle appears briefly. The iPhone has selected a portion of the image to focus on; it
will attempt to make the objects or persons in this area have the sharpest focus. This will be the focus "distance".
If, for example, the selected portion of the image is about 5 feet away, then all objects approximately 5 feet away
will be in the sharpest focus. People or objects that are closer or further than this may not necessarily be in as sharp.
This yellow rectangle also has a brightness/darkness adjust. It's the line with the "sun" in the
middle. Simply touch to the right of this line and slide your finger up or down to lighten or darken the exposure.
Stopping Down with the iPhone
Here are two pictures taken from a flight in October 2018.
In the picture on the right, I have darkened the image by sliding the "sun" down on the
brightness/darkness line. You have no control over how much you can "stop down" (darken) like you do
with an SLR camera, where you can select "stop down -1/3", or "stop down -2/3" and the like.
"Locking" the Exposure and the Focus
If you touch a given area and perhaps brightened or darkened
the image a bit, the iPhone will use these settings as long as you hold it relatively still. But if you move the
iPhone around, it will soon select another area - the yellow rectangle will briefly re-appear, and the instrument
will change the focus distance and/or the brightness level.
It's Gadgit Time!
Well, you can take pictures and videos with smartphones, but they're not the best
instruments for doing so. You have to grip it while at the same time not getting your fingers over the lens
or touching some part of the display that does things! (Such as selecting the rear camera and suddenly
you are looking at yourself, or selecting multiple color/tint options and suddenly there are 9 images patterned
over the display in different tints!)
The Viewflex Smartphone Grip solves the handling problem.
The Rode VideoMicro Compact Mic has a wind sock and also greatly improves the audio.
On the left is the Viewflex VF-H series Smartphone Grip. It accomodates small smartphones like the iPhone 6 up to larger phones like the iPhone 8 Plus.
I was quite impressed by the quality of this device. The handle is all metal, with machined edges and knurled knobs. The section which holds the smartphone has rubber pads that are carefully aligned with the edges of the mounts.
The bottom of the handle has a threaded hole that can be mounted on a camera tripod.
The little oval shaped assembly above the orange ring is actually a bluetooth module with a button. You can pair this with the iPhone and use the button to snap photos or start/stop videos!
The handle can separate from the smartphone mount section, allowing for placing a horizontal rod that sticks out and can serve as a mount for items such as LED lights.
On top of the smartphone holder is a "hot shoe" type mount. The Rode mic and other external microphones can fit into this mount and be securely tightened.
But mainly, the thing lets you firmly grip an otherwise squirrely, slick, expensive smartphone and not constantly worry that the shrieking Pacific winds are going to whisk it out of your hands and fling it against the volcanic rocks you're standing on while trying to film the wave action!
Plus, you'll look cool showing up on the beach with all this paraphenelia. They'll think you actually know what you're doing!
And on the right is the Rode mike. I'll shed light on it in the paragraph below.
Here's a side view of the combined assembly. Mounted atop the Viewflex VF-H3 Grip is the Rode "VideoMicro Compact Mic"
The microphone itself is a very good cardioid condenser type. It improves the audio quality considerably compared to the built-in mic.
The mic is directional, and will greatly reduce peripheral noise coming from the sides.
It has an aluminum body
The red structure is the included "Rycote Lyre Suspension Shock Mount", and helps reduce noise from handling.
Included (but not shown) is a wind sock with synthetic fibers over a foam base. This takes care of the wind whistling.
It is necessary to purchase separately a special cable for connecting to the iPhone.
This is the "Rode SC7 3.5mm TRS to TRRS Patch Cable". That's the red coiled cable shown in the image.
It plugs into the white "headphone to lightning connector" cable that is supplied with the iPhone. Notice that
the cable is squeezed into one of the slots of the tightening knob (directly underneath the mic). This helps
stabilize the microphone when you have the wind sock mounted.
3.5mm refers to a "mini plug". This type of plug is ususally associated with headphone and stereo speaker jacks.
TRS is "Tip-Ring-Sleeve". The plug has a tip, one ring, and one sleeve. This is the most common headphone/speaker plug.
TRRS is "Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve". The plug has a tip, two rings, and one sleeve. This is Apple's special connector. The extra ring might have something to do with using the "lightning" connector to attach headphones or external microphones.
You may have noticed that my iPhone shown above is sporting a case. That's because the unadorned iPhone
is incredibly slick; holding one is much like trying to hold an oiled ice cube! So I typically buy some sort of case that
I can grip.
The case fits iPhone 6s, 7, and 8.
The backside has leather accents underneath metal trim, and the sides are rubber, while the four corners (along with the multilayer construction) provide excellent protection against drops.
What I like also is that the extensions for the volume buttons and the sleep/wake button are very responsive; you feel like you are pressing the actual button itself.
This case makes the iPhone a substantial, easy-to-grip object that can be confidently picked up and carried around (and it looks cool, too).
(As always, the Wracklineblog is completely ad-free!
Here's the Viewflex Grip VF-H3 link. Note that there are several configurations of this item. Scroll down
to about the middle of the page to see them.
Here's the Rode external microphone. It comes with the flexible mount, the wind sock, and a red
The TRS to TRSS adapter cable for iPhones.
And here's the Urban Armor Gear iPhone case.
Copyright © 2019 J.A.