ProCamera: Five tips for sharper iPhone photos

Written by Misho Baranovic. Originally published on the ProCamera blog

Over the past few years shooting with the iPhone and ProCamera one of the most common questions I get asked is how can I make my photos sharper?

There are a few things that you can do to improve the clarity and sharpness of your iPhone photos. Here are five tips that I use on a daily basis when shooting.

1. Get a good grip on your iPhone

A firm grip is less likely you are to introduce camera shake when shooting. I’m currently using the latest Quad-Lock case which has a nice hard rubber surface (oh and the tripod mount comes in handy too).

2. Get your focus right

In ProCamera you can manually set your exposure point. This means you can make sure that your subject is in focus. Touching the screen with two fingers brings up the focus and exposure controls. Drag the blue square onto your subject to set focus.

In this example I’ve placed the focus square on the background, throwing the subject out of focus. In the second example I’ve placed the square on the subject’s eye bringing it into focus.

3. Use Anti-Shake in low-light

ProCamera’s Anti-Shake can be found in the Control Panel (see right). Upon selection it turns the button directly right of the main shutter into an anti-shake shutter. This means that you can choose if you want to take either a normal or anti-shake enabled shot.

With Anti-Shake activated, ProCamera waits until the phone is very still before it takes a photos. This helps limit camera shake when shooting in low-light.

In the Control Panel you can also toggle the secondary shutter between Anti-Shake and Self Timer.

Here are a few recent low-light photos taken with the Anti-Shake shutter function:

Opening night of FORMAT Festival

Sunrise in San Francisco

4. Use the ProCamera Lightbox to check sharpness

In the ProCamera Lightbox/Camera Roll single photo view, you can double click to get a 100% preview image or pinch the image to load the full resolution file. ProCamera is one of the few dedicated shooting apps that offers this feature. In the photo below you can see the difference between the standard and full resolution zoom view.

Standard view Full resolution zoom

5. Use a good sharpening app

ProCamera doesn’t yet have a sharpen tool so I bring my photos into a secondary app for basic sharpening and clarity.

My go to app is Snapseed because I can apply small amounts of sharpening while using the magnifying glass to check how the individual pixels are holding up. This is critical for making sure that you don’t over-sharpen the photograph, especially when printing.

Do you have any shooting or app tips on how to get sharper photos from your phone? Let me know in the comments below.

ProCamera 4.1 is currently available from the App Store for $4.99.

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ProCamera for iPhone and iPad has been setting the standard for professional camera replacement apps since the early days of the App Store. Its high-end features and intuitive, easy to use design make it the app of choice for professional photographers and videographers.
  • Toastist

    Like the tips! Want that case! I like the poncho that fits over it, have you tried this?

    • toastist

      Now I realize that you did not write this article. I do like this case design though.

      • The case is great, I’ve seen the Poncho in action and it works great as a splash barrier.

        • Toastist

          Thanks for the info Misho!

  • Aaron

    ProCamera was with out a doubt my favorite camera replacement app for a couple years. Actually, I still like the functionality of it better than any other camera app. However with apps out there that shoot in tiff and high res jpeg formats, it doesn’t make sense to use an app that shoots 72 x 72 when you can get your photos at 300 x 300. I know pureshot and 645pro do. There are other apps as well, I just haven’t used them. Needless to say for me, pureshot is my new #1 replacement app. The photos take up more space because they are larger, but if you can start with a higher quality photo, why wouldn’t you? Unless space is an issue.

    • Hi Aaron,

      Not sure what you mean by 72×72. You can shoot uncompressed JPEGS in ProCamera – there is a compression slider in the settings. I’ve always struggled to see the difference between a high quality JPEG and TIFF.

      Happy to answer any questions you might have.


      • Aaron


        That would be DPI or dots per inch. Apps like procamera, camera plus, the native iphone camera, and many other apps all shoot at 72 DPI. Procamera may have a high quality jpeg setting, none the less its shoots at 72 dpi. What the means is you get over 4x the amount of data and a higher quality final image by mathematical fact. Try for yourself, take a picture with the native iphone app, procamera, and camera plus. Then open in Photoshop (if you’re on a desktop), or something like phototoaster (on iphone) look at the EXIF data . Only apps like Pureshot, 645pro, (and others I’ve not tried yet) have 300 dpi. You don’t have to be a mathematician to understand this. That’s why images taken with apps like 645pro/Purshot are larger in file size, because of the dpi which means better quality final image not matter what you want to do with it in the end.


        • WeiKhuen

          Here is an article explain dpi

          It doesn’t matter it is 72dpi or 300dpi as long as it gives the same mega pixels output.

          • Yep, DPI is a measurement for printing. Pixel count is what’s important. All top photo apps, including ProCamera, Pureshot and 645Pro give you the maximum pixels from the iPhone (3264×2448 for the iPhone 4S and 5). If you’re getting more than that then the app is using playing silly buggers.

  • I think you left off the most important tip of all for most of the unsharp iPhone photos I see: clean the lens.

    Many many people run around with greasy finger smudges on their camera lens, and end up with a soft rainbow-ey halo. It’s great if you’re shooting porn, but simply keeping the lens clean does wonders.

  • Apps like Pro Camer and others that allow you to independently set exposure and focus are so important for taking decent pictures with an iPhone.

    Someone mentioned in the comments to clean the lens, and I think this should always be step one. Personally, I recently had the lens replaced on my iPhone (as well as the camera itself). Cost me about 30$, and it was well worth it.