I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate small business owners who are ready to scale and want to stand out online as local industry leaders.

I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic marketing imagery that are in line with your business goals.

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Quick iPhone camera trick for higher quality photos

June 19, 2020

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Updated for October 2021

You just upgraded your iPhone. As the top of the box slowly separates from the bottom, you can’t stop thinking about all of the AMAZING pictures you’re going to take.

You set it up and open the camera app for the first time. “Omg, I can’t wait to test out the new lens.” You go to snap a picture and…

It’s grainy? 🤨

(2021 update: As Apple software and hardware continue to improve, it’s unlikely that you’ll see a difference between .HEIC and .JPEG format. I recommend that you keep your photo settings in High Efficiency unless you see a noticeable difference in photo quality.)

Well today, my friends, I’m going to tell you how to fix this! You can watch the quick 2-minute IGTV video here, but if you prefer to see the text + screenshots, just scroll on along.

iPhone Camera Settings Hack

Alright fam. This is gonna be a one-click change. Go ahead and open up your Settings app, and then scroll down to the Camera option. Tap on Camera.

In there, you’ll see a few options, but we want to look at the Formats. Tap Formats.

Now here, you’ll see two different options: High Efficiency and Most Compatible. If you’ve ever AirDropped or transferred your phone photos to your computer, you might notice that the file format is sometimes .HEIC. This means High Efficiency.

High Efficiency vs. Most Compatible

The iPhone will default to High Efficiency because this will optimize space on your phone. If you struggle with low storage, then keep it as High Efficiency unless you REALLY notice a difference in quality. Most Compatible will not compress your photo and will save it with a .JPG file format.

Additionally, if you have an iPhone, but you use a Windows computer, you’ll probably want to use Most Compatible. This will ensure that your files are easily transferable between your phone and your computer.

Most of the time, you aren’t going to be able to tell the difference between the two formats. But, if you’re photographing something with a lot of detail like hair, pets, and artwork, you might notice that if you zoom in really close, your photo will be grainy.

To avoid this, just tap on the Most Compatible option. Voila! No more grainy photos.

iPhone photos of a mug
Cat iPhone photos

If this post was helpful, let me know in the comments! Also don’t forget to share this post with your friends so that we can ALL enjoy crisp, sharp images.

While you’re here, do you also want to up level your Instagram aesthetic? Get my free Lightroom Mobile preset here!

About the writer

Hi there! I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate small business owners who want to stand out online as local industry leaders.

I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic marketing imagery that are in line with your business goals.

To save time and edit your photos to stand out from the scroll, get my mobile preset pack. To set up a 20-minute brand consult with me, click here.

  1. Sithmi says:

    This amazing page gives us really important information about iPhone camera. I was new to IOS and I didn’t knew those tricks at first. But now I know some new tricks at all. This page taught me those things very clearly and informatively. thank you so much 🙂

  2. Jane Osborn says:

    hi emily
    I have had so much trouble transfering my photos onto my computer, sometimes I wish I didn’t get an apple iphone!. I have used a sandisk and also just the lead, sometimes they work sometimes they dont, and I haven’t managed to download my videos yet. I wish these companies didn’t make it this hard, so much easier on my actual camera! If I change to “most compatible” this will make it easier I presume as they will be saved as a jpeg? Will my images be a better quality as a jpeg? I know I won’t have so much space. I usually take around 300- 1000 photos on a holiday, depending where I am so I hope my phone will ne able to store this amount of images at one time if they are jpegs?
    sorry for the long email
    Many thanks for your help
    Jane

    • Emily Huynh says:

      Hi Jane!

      Yes, changing your setting to “most compatible” will make it easier to transfer your images. You will notice a slight difference in quality (usually better), but it’s almost unnoticeable unless you’re specifically looking for it. You may need to upgrade storage on your phone, or you can plan to regularly go through your camera roll and delete old images. I hope this helps!

      Emily

  3. Umais says:

    Great information.
    But unfortunately HEIC Format is not opening in PC.
    what should i do?

  4. Ali says:

    Thank you!! You’re the only page that gets right to the point. And you’re always spot-on (pun intended)

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I’m Emily, and I’m a brand photographer for passionate small business owners who are ready to scale and want to stand out online as local industry leaders.

I, my (dog) daughter, and my fiancé are based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Here at Emily Kim Photography, I provide creative, strategic marketing imagery that are in line with your business goals.

tell me more...

crowd faves

on the blog

Color Psychology for Photoshoots

5 Dream Bay Area Studio Rentals for Your Next Shoot

5 Tips for Optimizing Images on Your Website

How to Plan Outfits for Your Brand Photoshoot

goodies you'll love

Access My Free Resource Library

Branded Stock Photography at the EK Stock Shop

Free Preset for
Lightroom Mobile

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