How to Adjust Exposure in the iPhone Camera App

There are two ways to adjust exposure in your iPhone camera app, and both are super easy! Learn how to quickly adjust your exposure and get the perfect shot.

* This post is part of iPhone Life's Tip of the Day newsletter. . *

This article will cover how to adjust exposure in the iPhone camera app on the iPhone 11 and iPhone 12 series. The iPhone's camera is such a handy and versatile tool that I find myself favoring it even when I've got expensive photography equipment gathering dust in my office. Setting the exposure is as easy as tapping on the point in the image you want to meter, tapping the sun icon that appears next to that point to reveal the brightness slider, and then dragging the brightness slider up or down. That way you can make the darks a little darker or the lights a little lighter, and create the image you want every time. Here's how to do it.

Related: Phone Photography Tips: How to Use Lighting to Take More Creative Pictures

How to Adjust Exposure in the iPhone Camera App:

As of iOS 14 there are two ways you can adjust exposure in your iPhone camera app, either on the image display or in the menu below. Let's learn both. For more iPhone photography tutorials, check out our Tip of the Day. And, check out our article for the best new camera accessories. Now, let's get started.

  1. Open your Camera app.
  2. Frame the shot you want to take.

    Open your Camera appFrame your shot
  3. Tap the point in the photo you want to focus on. A yellow box will appear around that point.
  4. One way to adjust exposure is to slide your finger up and down on the sun icon next to the yellow box. Sliding up will make the photo lighter, sliding down will make it darker.

    Tap your subject to focusSwipe up and down to adjust exposure
  5. For a more precise adjustment, tap the arrow at the top of your screen.
  6. A menu will appear below your shutter button. Tap the icon that shows a plus and minus.

    Tap the arrow at the top of your screentap the exposure icon
  7. Swipe left and right to adjust exposure. Swiping to the left will make your photo brighter, sliding right will make it darker.
  8. If you want to make sure your exposure and focus stay how you set it and doesn't auto-adjust with light changes or movement, long press on the yellow box. AE/AF LOCK will appear at the top of your screen, letting you know those settings are locked it. To undo it, tap anywhere else on the screen.

    Swipe left and right to adjust exposureLong press for AE/AF LOCK

Now you know how to adjust the exposure on your iPhone.

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Author Details

Cullen Thomas's picture

Author Details

Cullen Thomas

Cullen Thomas is a Writer and Producer at iPhone Life, creating tips and guides to help users unlock the full potential of their iOS and iPhone. In addition to writing countless tip-of-the-day articles and many detailed guides, Cullen has spent nine years as an instructor in media and communications at Maharishi University, lecturing on technical and artistic subjects ranging from camera and audio hardware to story-plotting to how to manage a film crew. Cullen answers questions daily about iPhones and iOS as part of the Ask an Editor insider service, and designs curriculum for iPhone Life’s online classes. As a frequent contributor to iPhone Life magazine and occasional guest on the iPhone Life podcast, Cullen likes to talk about security and privacy news, tech, gadgets, and apps, even if nobody asked.

Cullen holds a master’s degree in Cinematic Arts from the David Lynch School of Cinematic Arts. Cullen also holds two Bachelor’s degrees from Maharishi University, one in literature with an emphasis in writing and the other in Communications and Media. Cullen’s short fiction has been featured in anthologies from Amphibian Press and TANSTAAFL, and Cullen co-owns a game design company, Thoughtspike games, which builds thought-provoking puzzle games. Cullen is a sci-fi author, a coffee connoisseur, and an iPhone expert.