Ice Pattern taken with the iPhone 13 Pro
Macro,  Photo Gear

Testing iPhone 13 Pro Macro Photography on Ice Patterns

Those of you who follow the blog know that I really enjoy taking macro photographs using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III camera and 60mm macro lens.  Well, I finally upgraded my iPhone X with the iPhone 13 Pro. The iPhone 13 Pro & iPhone 13 Pro Max now have an Ultra Wide Camera Lens with a f/1.8 aperture and a 120 degree field of view.  This new lens enables the iPhone with a macro photography mode.

Macro photography mode on the iPhone is really easy to use.  Just open the camera app, make sure Photo is selected as the camera mode, and move the camera close to the subject.  The iPhone will focus as close as 2 cm (.787 inches) in Macro Mode.  Macro mode is also available for video, Slo-Mo and Time-lapse modes.

Frozen Leaves in the Ice taken with the iPhone 13 Pro
Frozen Leaves in the Ice taken with the iPhone 13 Pro

How did the iPhone do on Ice Pattern Macro Photography?

One of my favorite macro photography subjects in the winter are ice patterns. These ice patterns are typically found in shallow pools that are frozen over. A lot of times the ice patterns will contain leaves that are frozen under the ice which add to the composition of the photograph.

I typically photograph these ice patterns with my Olympus OM-D camera and macro lens. My Olympus camera has terrific image stabilization and focus peaking that helps with getting the subject in focus.

All of the shots in this blog were taken handheld with the iPhone 13 Pro. I found that the iPhone 13 Pro performed very well taking these ice pattern macro photographs and I was really happy with the final images. I did post process these images in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop.

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What did I think of shooting macro photographs with the iPhone 13 Pro?



My iPhone is almost always with me.  So, if I’m out on a photography hike for landscapes, birds, or wildlife and I see a macro opportunity, I won’t miss the shot since I always have the iPhone 13 Pro with me. The images are also automatically uploaded to the photos app on my mac using iCloud so I didn’t have to manually upload them to my computer.

iPhone 13 Pro Auto Macro Settings
iPhone 13 Pro Auto Macro Settings

Ease of Use

Using Macro Mode on the iPhone is pretty much automatic.  Just go to Photo Mode in the Camera app and move the camera in close to the subject.  The Camera app will automatically switch to the Ultra Wide Lens when you get close to the subject.

If you don’t like the iPhone automatically switching to the Ultra Wide lens for macro, Apple has added a setting to turn off Auto Macro mode in iOS 15.1. Auto Macro can be turned off under Camera in the iPhone Settings app.

If you do turn off Auto Macro, you will need to manually switch to the Ultra Wide lens (0.5x) before moving the camera in close for a macro shot.

Image Quality

I found the quality of the iPhone 13 Pro macro images to be really good. My Olympus camera has 20 megapixel images but I found the 12 Megapixel images to be plenty big for my macro photographs.  Also, an iPhone raw file format (ProRaw) was introduced with the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max giving you more capability in post processing your iPhone photographs. 

ProRaw Settings Tip:  You can turn ProRaw on in the under Camera – Formats in the Settings app.  This will add a ProRaw toggle in the camera app to take photographs in the ProRaw format.

Leaf Half Frozen in the Ice, iPhone 13 Pro Macro
Leaf Half Frozen in the Ice, iPhone 13 Pro Macro

iPhone Macro Photography Opportunities

Image Stabilization

I may be spoiled by the terrific image stabilization in my Olympus OM-D camera.  To be expected, I had more blurry shots handheld with the iPhone than when using my Olympus OM-D.  I ended up taking a few more shots but I still had plenty of keepers.

Focus Peaking

A nice future addition for macro photography on the iPhone 13 pro would be focus peaking.  Focus peaking highlights the parts of the image that are in focus and is extremely helpful for macro photography.  It is typically used with manual focus which is not available on the iPhone Camera app. 

With focus peaking, you can move your camera closer / farther from the subject and press the shutter when the parts of the image you want in focus are highlighted.  Manual focus with focus peaking is my favorite way to shoot macro photography using my Olympus camera.


While the iPhone 13 Pro will not replace my Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark III and Olympus 60mm macro, I thought the iPhone 13 Pro did quite well for macro photography and I’m happy with the macro images that I created using it.  I really like having the ability to take a macro photograph at any time, as I almost always carry my iPhone with me.

Written by Martin Belan

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