Adjust aperture on portrait photos for iPhone or iPad

Sharpen or blur the background and play with the depth control

Nowadays the iPhone, and even some iPad models, can take photos with depth effect. Portrait mode gives you the ability to highlight a subject and blur the background by changing the aperture.

This can be done not only while taking a photo, but also afterwards from the Photos app for iPhone, iPad and Mac. You can easily determine the intensity and adjust the bokeh effect. Adjusting aperture on iPhone photos is therefore very easy.

Aperture for camera lenses

A professional photographer continuously plays with the aperture of a camera lens. This determines how wide the lens is open and how much light comes in. This is important for taking clear photos in low light, but it has other benefits too. It also determines how sharp or blurred the background is.

iPhone 12 pro camera

The aperture is expressed in f-stops, these specifications can also be found on the iPhone information page on the Apple website. The ƒ stands for focal length and is also used in Apple’s Camera and Photos apps. The lower the f-stop value, the blurrier the photo becomes around the focus point and the more light enters the lens.

Support portrait photos

Before you can get started with the aperture on your iPhone or iPad, you first need to know whether your device is suitable for this function. Anyone who owns an iPhone Xs (Max), iPhone Xr, iPhone SE 3rd generation or newer can take beautiful portrait photos and also has some additional options such as adjusting the depth effect afterwards. Some iPad models also support this function, for example the iPad Pro.

Adjust aperture on iPhone photos

  • Open the Camera application
  • Above the camera button, swipe right or left until the ‘Portrait’ option is activated (yellow).
  • Tap the subject on the screen
  • Tap the f button on the screen
Example bokeh iPhone Xs Max

You can then use the slide switch to adjust the depth effect and therefore the aperture. The lower the f-stop, the blurrier the background becomes.

Automatic depth recognition in Camera app

For the iPhone 15 (Pro), Apple has simplified taking portrait photos. For the first time, you can take portrait photos without having to switch to Portrait mode first. When a person, dog or cat comes into view or when you tap to focus, iPhone automatically acquires depth data.

The f symbol will appear at the bottom of the camera app. By tapping this you switch on the portrait function and you will see a preview in the camera app. But from now on, a portrait photo will actually always be taken thanks to the automation of this process.

Change aperture afterwards

Once you have taken a portrait photo, you can also adjust the depth effect, portrait lighting and depth control afterwards. To do this, open the portrait photo in Photos and tap ‘Edit’ at the top. You can then change the desired options via the symbols of the same name as in the Camera app. You can also turn off the depth effect completely by tapping ‘PORTRAIT’ at the top.

Changing the focus of a portrait photo afterwards

Good to know, all photos with depth effect are marked with the portrait symbol in the Photos app and can be found via the smart album ‘Portrait’. You can also change the photos with depth effect on a Mac via the Photos app.

Since iOS 17, iPadOS 17 and macOS Sonoma, you can also easily change the focus afterwards in the Photos app. Edit a portrait photo and tap the desired point on the photo to change the focus.

Recent Articles

Related Stories