These days, I tend to use my iPhone way more than my DSLR for photos and videos because it's always to hand. It takes good photos and videos but there's always room for improvement and extra creativity. Here are some tips on how to make sure you end up with images that are far better than mere snaps, as well as videos that look less amateur.
See also: Best apps for improving your photos
How to take better photos on your iPhone: add-on lenses
Smartphone cameras are getting better and better, but no matter how many megapixels manufacturers cram in you have one fixed lens to play with. Only a couple of smartphones have zoom lenses, such as the Samsung Galaxy K Zoom, but what if you want a zoom on your iPhone?
The good news is that you can buy lenses which clip over your iPhone. They include wide-angle, macro, fisheye and telephoto. You can even get miniature circular polarisers, so it’s possible to get many of the effects you can on a ‘proper’ camera without resorting to cheating in software.
Olloclip makes lenses for all iPhone models, including the 6S and 6S Plus. They’re not the cheapest, but as with DSLRs, you get what you pay for. We’ve found Olloclip’s lenses to be very well built and produce extremely sharp photos. If you can afford to spend even more, Schneider's iPro Lens system is better still.
Olloclip's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus 4-in-1 Lens is reversible and works with both the front- and rear-facing cameras, so you can use the wide-angle lens to take a ‘grouphie’ without needing a selfie stick. When you unscrew the wide-angle or fisheye lenses, there’s a macro lens underneath offering 10x and 15x magnification. It costs less than £65 from Amazon and works with the 6 and 6S, 6 Plus and 6S Plus.
There's also the Olloclip Active Lens which has ultra-wide and telephoto lenses. It costs £89.99 from Amazon.
Here's the difference between the ultra-wide and telephoto lenses (note that the edges of the image are quite soft - one of the disadvantages of using lens attachments):
If you don't want to have to remove your iPhone from its case to attach a lens, you can buy the Ollocase in several colours for £24.99 from Amazon, or only £16.99 if you buy it with the lens system. It's available for both the iPhone 6/6S, and 6/6S Plus.
The latest from Olloclip is the Studio, which comprises a bulkier version of the Ollocase and several attachments which allow you to mount it on a tripod. You also get two cold shoes, which make it possible to attach a light and mic to improve your videos. It's available for the 6/6S and 6/6S Plus for £80 from Olloclip.
Olloclip isn’t the only choice, of course. If you have 35mm lenses, you can even buy adaptors to mount those lenses on your iPhone. One example is the Turtleback DOF and another is Photojojo’s (although this works only with the iPhone 4 and 4S). Mounting a 35mm lens isn’t simple and requires a special case for your iPhone. It’s not for everyone, but if you really want to shoot SLR-like photos, this is how to do it without faking depth of field.
If you just want to take better macro photos and you're on a budget, try the Magnif-eye which costs just £4.99. The results aren't as good as Olloclip's macro lenses (the area in sharp focus is much smaller), but it costs a fraction of the price:
How to take better videos on your iPhone
If you have an iPhone 5S or newer you can shoot slo-mo video which can produce stunning results. It’s not too hard to hold the phone still for such a short amount of time, but the new time-lapse mode (first introduced in iOS 8) means the phone really needs to be mounted on a tripod to avoid shaky footage.
You could try and rest your phone against something, but it’s worth investing in a case which can attach to a standard tripod or an iPhone-specific stand. An example is the Kenu Stance which costs £12.50 from Amazon and clips into the Lightning port and allows you to hold your iPhone steady in portrait or landscape mode. A balljoint means you can adjust it to the perfect angle for a time-lapse of clouds rushing overhead, or whatever it is you want to capture.
In fact, a stand is also handy for photos, especially if you want to use the built-in camera app's self-timer. There are plenty of stands to choose between, including more universal ones, such as the Joby GripTight XL, at around £15.
For time-lapse videos, the Muvi X-Lapse is a great gadget. It costs £15 from Amazon and turns slowly to capture a sweeping video panorama. It takes 15 minutes to turn 90 degrees, but you can set it to rotate up to 360 degrees over an hour. The only downside is that you can't adjust the speed.
How to take better photos and videos on your iPhone: apps
Sticking with Apple’s own camera app will limit your creativity. It’s a lot better than it used to be, but there are other camera apps such as Camera+ which offer more control.
For example, you can choose separate focus and exposure points, focus manually and even choose the exact shutter speed. It can be helpful if you want to get more creative. For example, if you want to get that ‘smooth water’ effect when shooting a river or waterfall, you can combine a stand to keep the iPhone perfectly still with a slow shutter speed and some exposure compensation.
Once you've taken photos (even in the stock camera app) Camera+ can import them and you get a vast range of enhancements including the excellent Clarity filter which brings out the detail in the photo. It's well worth £1.49. It's been around for years, but is still the best. You can read our full Camera+ review.
If you want to improve your selfies, CyberLink's YouCam Perfect is fun, letting you do some virtual cosmetic surgery and smooth out those wrinkles and blemishes.
For video, try Filmic Pro. This brilliant app gives you the kind of full manual control that you’d find on an enthusiast-level HD camcorder. All for £5.49. You’ll be able to vary the framerate (up top 240fps on the 6 and 6s), focus manually, change exposure, ISO, tint and more.
It has audio meters, support for stereo mics, and you can shoot in a variety of aspect ratios including ‘Cinemascope’ 2.59:1.