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How to set the iPhone camera timer

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Are you trying to figure out how to set your iPhone’s camera timer to allow for hands-free shooting? This useful tool is not always obvious, but we have the solution.

The box to your right will give you the short answer. To access additional tools in the Camera app, swipe up or use the arrow at top to reveal them.

Quick steps to set the iPhone camera’s timer

  1. Open the camera app, and choose ‘Photo’ mode.
  2. Click the photo mode menu button above the shutter to activate it.
  3. Select the clock icon to choose a length.

However, knowing where to find your iPhone camera timer is not the same as understanding how to use it. The timer can be used for more than just family photos. You can use it to take macro photos, long exposure photographs and selfies at the best quality.

We will show you how to make the most of the iPhone’s camera-timer feature. We’ll also discuss the rare occasions when you might consider using the iPhone’s camera timer feature in a third party app.

These problems are not as common as they seem, because Apple’s camera app has a greater intuitive and responsiveness than any other iPhone camera app. Let’s start with the basics. This is where you can find the Camera app’s timer.

How to set the iPhone camera’s timer

  • Open the camera app on your iPhone and choose Photo. Open the camera app on the iPhone. Next, select the Photo mode. This mode will most likely be the default setting for your iPhone. If you are in another mode, you can use left/right swipes until the ‘Photo’ icon appears at the bottom.
  • Click upwards to view the settings shortcuts. Scroll down at the bottom of the preview image for a toolbar of icons (below). These icons are shortcuts to advanced customization options that most people don’t need. It’s also where we find the photo-timer control.

The symbol for the iPhone camera-timer is the red arrow (above). (Image credit: Future)

  • Choose your timer window. After pressing the timer shortcut, you will see a popup where “timer off”, is selected. There are also “3s” or “10s” options. You can choose how long you want to pause the iPhone before it takes a picture.
  • How do you take timer photos? Simply take a photo like you would normally. You’ll notice a countdown on the screen and a flash pulse that will let you (and anyone else) know that your iPhone is working. You’ll hear the shutter fire sound effects if your iPhone’s sound has been turned on. This is because standard iPhone timer shots do not capture one image but rather a series of 10 images.

(Image credit: Future)

  • Choose your favorite shots. Apple’s Burst Approach means that you have many images to choose. Take a look. To enter the gallery, tap the preview button at the bottom-left. Scroll down to see a closer view of the photo you are interested in. You will see the “burst (10 photographs)” label towards the top of your screen. You will also see a “Select” option at the bottom (see above). Give it a tap.
  • Select the keepers. Now, you will see all 10 photos captured and arranged in a single row. Each image will have a small circle at the corner. To select the images that you wish to keep, tap on these. Tap ‘Done in the top-right to confirm that you want to keep all the images or to throw away the unselected ones.

When is the iPhone camera timer best used?

Now you know how to use the timer mode on your iPhone to unlock it. When should you use it? Here are some situations where timed shots can be of benefit.

1. The classic: group portraits

Image credit: Media Whalestock/Shutterstock

This is one of those awkward childhood memories that many people have: being forced to line up with friends or family during a 9th-year celebration. You are all told to smile while the parent or adult photographer runs from the camera.

Now you’re the adult telling everyone to smile. Perfect for this job, the iPhone’s timer function is great. We recommend that you use a tripod, if at all possible.

A tripod gives you more control over the composition of your scene. You don’t have to crop the image after taking the photo. The only thing you can do is use the 10s delay mode, which will give everyone enough time to put on their signature smiles.

2. Taking better selfies

(Image credit: Stratford Productions / Apple

You have probably spent hours trying to take a selfie using the rear camera. Blind-pressing the shutter button on the other side of your phone was the best way to do it. We have.

The timed mode makes the whole process a lot easier. You can set the timer for three seconds, then simply whip your phone around to look at the primary sensor.

To get the best results, raise the phone slightly above your head. This will prevent double-chinning.

If your iPhone supports Portrait mode, you should also consider it. This blurs the background and is great for taking selfies. The timer for this mode works exactly like the standard Photo mode. Simply swipe up and tap the Timer icon to select “3s”.

To take group selfies, switch to the rear camera by pressing the “1x” button on the screen before you tap the shutter.

3. Manual slow shutter photography

(Image credit: Future)

iPhones don’t let you take true classic low-light images. The shutter is then opened for a long time to allow for lots of light to reach the sensor even if there isn’t much to see.

Shutter speed control is not available in the iPhone camera app. You can manually trigger the shutter for one second, even with a third-party application. You can achieve slow shutter speeds effects such as light trails or smooth-looking water in motion. This effect is often enhanced by a timed shot.

These can be done with either the iPhone’s camera app or a third-party one. This is how it works in the Camera app.

  1. Turn on Live Photos mode. It is located in the top-right corner of the screen when the iPhone has been held in portrait.
  2. To set a 3s delay, swipe up on the preview image of the camera to reveal the settings toggles. Tap the timer icon at the bottom-right corner of the screen, and then tap “3s”.
  3. Use your photo as normal.
  4. Go to the phone gallery.
  5. To open the Live Photos drop-down, tap the Live tag located in the top-left corner of the screen.
  6. Long exposure.

To simulate the recording of motion in long exposures, such as car light trails or soft-looking waterfalls, this uses 1.5 seconds of image data before and after the shutter button is pressed. It is helpful because it allows you to stabilize the phone within the pre-shutter window for capture.

Third-party apps such as Slow Shutter or Pro Camera by Moment allow you to take it a step further with emulated shutter speeds up to 60 seconds. You can even get longer if the manual “bulb” mode is used. These will require a tripod as they can’t compensate for handshake motion. The timed delay prevents any slight motion from the virtual shutter press affecting the final image.

4. Macro photography

(Image credit: Future)

A timer is useful for macro photography. This style of photography is sensitive to handshake blur and motion. It is difficult to count how many times wind has caused a photo of veins in a leaf to be ruined. You’ll be doubly thankful that the iPhone’s timed mode allows for burst photography.

Only the iPhone 13 series has a dedicated macro mode. This mode switches on automatically when the subject is extremely close to it, in true Apple fashion. You can place it as close as 2cm away from your subject. It is enough to ensure that it is enabled.

  • Go to Settings.
  • Select Camera.
  • Turn off Auto Macro.

You can try macro style images with an older iPhone but you won’t get as close. Before you press the shutter button, lock focus. Keep your finger close to the subject and wait for an AE/AF message to appear on-screen.

You can pull back until you are satisfied with the sharpness of the image, even if you were too close to the iPhone to focus correctly. Next, tap the shutter button.

(Image credit: Future)

You might also consider a third-party app which allows you to manually focus on the closest setting. Yamera was our choice because its interface isn’t too complicated, which is a big plus for many. Here’s how to get it started:

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