You guys might remember that when I talked about the Lightroom CC for Mobile app a few months back, I mentioned that it was hard to access the (fabulous) camera.
I discovered recently that Lightroom Mobile has a widget that you can add to the Today screen on your iPhone to make accessing the camera fast. This widget is also available for Android phones.
How to Use the Lightroom Mobile Widget for Quick Camera Access
To access the Today view on iOS, swipe from left to right on the lock screen, the notifications screen, or the home screen. The Today view displays widgets for weather, upcoming appointments, battery status, etc.
Scroll to the bottom of this screen to locate the Edit button.
Tap on it, and then scroll down until you see the Lightroom Mobile widget. Tap on the green plus sign to add the widget to your today screen.
Tap and drag the 3 horizontal lines next to this widget spot to place the widget where you’d like on the screen. Mine is at the very top.
Click the done button and you’ll find your widget with the camera button on your Today screen.
Now that you’ve installed the widget, you’ll find that it might still be slightly quicker to access the iPhone camera. On my iPhone X, I have a camera icon on the lock screen. To take a photo, all I have to do is long press it.
However, to shoot with the Lightroom mobile camera, I need to swipe to the Today view, tap the icon, unlock my phone, and wait a moment for Lightroom to show its splash screen. On the iPhone X at least, unlocking really isn’t an issue. The phone uses facial recognition to unlock automatically as I raise it to compose the photo.
Even though it takes a second or two longer to use the Lightroom mobile camera, it’s worth it to me. You have much more control over creative aspects of your photos than you do with the native iPhone camera.
How to Take Better Photos on Your Phone Using the Lightroom Mobile Camera
The first thing I like about the Lightroom Mobile camera is that you can record your images as DNGs. DNGs are Raw files and allow for greater image editing.
To enable Raw shooting, look at the icon you see next to the arrow in the image above. If it says DNG, as mine does, you are already recording your photos in Raw. If it says JPG, tap on it and flip the switch to DNG.
Next, Lightroom mobile’s camera will show you a highlight clipping warning. In other words, highlights that will be blown out are displayed on your screen before you shoot. If you know you have blown highlights, you can decide to:
- ignore them if they are insignificant and undistracting
- reduce exposure using exposure compensation, or
- recompose your photo so that the highlights won’t be included in your shot.
To enable the highlights clipping warning, tap this icon:
The black and white stripes show you where the blown highlights will be in your photo.
While those settings are available in any the Lightroom Mobile camera mode, if you use the Pro mode you can also customize:
- Shutter Speed
- White Balance
- Focus Distance
Changing Shutter Speed (2 in the image above) & ISO (3) are for creative purposes only. Each offsets the other. In other words, if you lengthen the shutter speed to freeze motion, ISO will automatically decrease to balance exposure.
Tapping on Sec (for Seconds) allows you to set the shutter speed to Auto, or anywhere from 1/10,000 a second to 1/4 a second. The farther to the left you set ISO, the more you’ll freeze motion in your photos. The farther to the right, the more you will drag or blur motion.
Tapping on ISO allows you to set ISO to Auto, or anywhere from 25 to 800. The higher you go, the grainier your photos will be.
If you want to change exposure, you need to use Exposure Compensation (1) instead of shutter speed or ISO. Exposure comp is available in both the Pro and Auto modes of Lightroom Mobile’s camera. Move this slider to the left to darken exposure and to the right to brighten it.
White Balance (4) offers the following presets:
Tap on WB and choose one of these presets to control the color in your photo.
To use the custom setting, select it, then move your camera to a spot where a neutral gray fills the box that will appear on your screen. This spot needs to be in the same light as the subject you want to photograph. If you’d like more background on custom white balance, this article will help.
Focus distance (5) is an interesting option. As you move this slider from left to right, you’ll see a green highlight appear over various parts of your photo. This highlight shows you what the most focused parts of your image will be. Lower percentages keep the focus area close to the camera. The focus area moves away from the camera at higher percentages.
Unlike tapping on your subject to set the focus point in the native iPhone camera, choosing the focus area gives you some control over depth of field.
The photo below shows you how this feature works. For the top photo, I kept the focus distance close to 0 so that the candle closest to my camera had green highlights on it. For the second, I moved the slider to the right so that the back candle had the green highlights.
The back candle and the background are much softer in the first photo.
The technology isn’t perfect yet, as you can see. The table and chairs in the background of my photo have green highlights regardless of where the focus depth slider is.
However, the depth of field control is better than it would be with the native iPhone camera ap – it would have attempted to make both candles sharp unless you shot in Portrait mode.
Finally, if you’ve experimented with your settings too much, tap Reset (6) to undo all of your changes.