iOS 5: Camera and photo editing


It’s an old adage: The best camera is the one you have with you. For photo editing, the adage may soon be: The best editor is the one can you can use immediately before posting it on Facebook. With iOS 5, (s aapl) the photo editing capabilities of your iPhone are greatly improved.

Taking photos

You’ll encounter the biggest change when you go to take a photo. You can now use your volume up button to take a photo, making it a more natural and steady experience. You can also put an overlay grid on the screen to make sure your photo is straight (yes, I know, my sample isn’t straight).

With iOS 5, you can now access the camera app directly from the lock screen. This is a fantastic time-saver. Previously, in the couple of seconds it took to unlock the iPhone and launch the Camera app, the moment had often passed. Now, I’ve dramatically increased the number of photos of my cat that actually come out well.

Editing photos

All edits take place in the Photos app. To edit a photo, choose it from the Camera Roll, and press Edit in the upper right-hand corner. The rudimentary editing tools (rotate, auto enhance, red-eye, and crop) will appear on the bottom.

Rotating photos is a little weird. The tool on the far left will rotate the photo in 90-degree increments. However, if you want to rotate the image any other degree, you need to go into the Crop tool and rotate it using a two-finger twist. To me, it seems like all the rotate tools should be in one area.

Most of the pictures you’re likely to take with your iPhone are in sub-optimal conditions. A bar, outside in direct sunlight, outside at night, etc. Auto enhance is iOS’s best guess as to what the photo should look like if the conditions were better. In my limited tests, it works well enough, though it’s not nearly as good as using a tool like Aperture, but for something you want to quickly enhance before you post it on Twitter, it’s fine.

Left is before auto enhance; right is after

Final thoughts

I’m happy with the Camera and Photos enhancements. While I don’t tend to post many photos on Facebook or Twitter, now that Twitter is integrated into OS, I might start using it more. Giving a photo a quick edit or auto enhance before I post will be nice. The ability to access the camera from the lock screen and using the volume button to capture images are the most significant changes, and should please any mobile photog.


Jordan Frame

Editing functions are neat, but the edits seem to be lost when I upload from iPhone to Picasa or Kodak site for album sharing. Anyone know how to fix this?

Great article and comments.


Robert Costello

I have seen the same thing. Crop a picture, upload it to Facebook, and the cropping is gone. I’m assuming this is an OS issue.

Dianna Lynn Byrd Bryant

I can not zoom any longer can you tell me how i can fix that?


You can zoom by pinching in the viewfinder. Just like you would enlarge text in mobile safari.


Fun new features if you like playing with photos taken with your iPhone/iPad camera. But if you’re more of a serious photographer, better look to something like Photo Shack Pro to manage and view your photos. You’ll get 4 times the resolution viewing capability, access to photo metadata, and ability to create and view on those libraries and albums you want.


Is the new “Auto enhance” feature you describe with new iOS5 for camera, the same thing as HDR for camera on iPhone 4?


Wow, great … Now I can quickly take a photo with a better handling with + button.

Thanks for sharing


I updated the iOS 5 on my iPhone 4 earlier but it doesn’t give me the option of accessing the camera from the lock screen. I live in Ireland. Any ideas?


I came across your tip when I was searching for the same answer. Thank you. =)

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