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How to Take Pictures of The Moon with iPhone? Take Better Shots!

How to Take Pictures of The Moon with iPhone

While you will witness a sky that has the ability to absorb you and make you forget you can blink, your camera will capture what you will call a dot in the dark.

Apple justifies the iPhone;s high prices by claiming that its camera is the best (along with many other reasons) so it must take the best moon pictures as well, no? How to take pictures of the moon with iPhone is something we will be discussing today.

This behavior is justifiable in a random mid-range phone but seeing an iPhone acting like this will break your heart.

How to Take Pictures of The Moon with iPhone?

Smartphones are coming with cameras that are not powerful enough to cover every detail in photo shoots. Why? Because the small lenses on the phone are not adequate and sufficient for large distance tasks shooting. That is the big reason digital SLR cameras have still existed and smartphones couldn’t knock them out of the ramp.

However, with some specific camera settings, you can still capture images with the help of a phone camera. If we talk about taking pictures of the moon with the iPhone camera you should keep some important points to consider before setting up the camera.

The fact is: The moon is approximately 238,855 miles from our planet which is way too hard for a phone’s camera to capture so we cannot really blame it.

Luckily, Apple is improving the camera with every new phone they release and the latest ones can now give pretty decent results.

Moon Photography is a part of night sky photography where you simply focus on the moon rather than involving all the stars as well as the sky that holds them.

However, you can also capture a beautiful landscape with the moon shining over it to make it more appealing.

If you love night sky photography but your iPhone is not cooperating with you, follow my guide on how to take pictures of the moon with your iPhone and you can learn some useful tricks to get the best possible shot.

This guide targets all iPhone models, but the older iPhones might still disappoint you while the 12 and 13 models will give you decent results: iPhone 13 pro and Pro Max offer the most stunning moon photos with the right settings.

Camera Settings For Moon Photography

Before starting with moon photography you would need some particular and definite settings of the phone camera and essential tools to capture perfect images.

Essential Equipment

There are a few things you’ll need to capture the moon with your iPhone. These are:

Essential Equipment for moon photography camera settings


The first thing is, of course, your iPhone (preferably the 13 pro models): This whole guide is based on how amazing your iPhone can be when it comes to photography.


Your hands can never be as steady as a tripod so it is a good idea to invest in one. When taking night photos with your phone, you must use a tripod. This is doubly true when photographing the Moon, because you’ll need the maximum zoom, and even the slightest shake might mess up your shot. 

We can only suggest that you need one, but we cannot force you to get one. If you believe your hands can be as steady as a tripod then you can skip it for sure.

Extra Lens

It is not necessary to use an additional lens. But even so, by introducing a lens to your iPhone’s camera system, you can boost the image quality.

To understand extra lenses and choose the best one for you, this guide on the best digital camera lenses might be of great help.

Night Mode Settings

Night Mode settings on iPhone for moon photography

You must have a night mode in your camera app if you’re using an iPhone 11 or above, unfortunately, there is none on older iPhones that can make your photos blurry.

To get a night mode like the ones on the latest iPhones, I would like to refer to a complete guide on How to Get iPhone 11’s Like Night Mode on an Older iPhone.

How do I turn on the Night Mode on my iPhone 11 (or above)?

Launch the Camera app and then search for a little moon sign on the screen.

If you find it and it has lost its color (i.e, it is grey), it’s usable but not automatically enabled.

Night mode is enabled by default if it is yellow.

For manual exposure time adjustment, press the moon icon.


iPhone 11 models only have the night mode for Wide (1x) camera while the 12 and 13 models offer a night mode feature in Ultra Wide (0.5x) camera, Wide (1x) camera, and front camera, and 13 pro and pro max also gives this option in Telephoto lens.

Now, once you have got the iPhone’s night mode camera feature, you can take admirable photos in low light.

Consider Your Timing And Location

Consider Your Timing And Location for moon photography

With a DSLR in hand, you have a lot of zooming options. This is not the situation with iPhones, which have pre-set magnification. That being said, you must be strategic in terms of timing and position.

You’ll make use of your phone’s maximum zoom potential because you’ll be photographing the Moon with it. This means using other components in your composition would be exceedingly difficult, so we suggest getting a clear and welcoming space in your image with nothing blocking the horizon.

High areas are generally favored for moon photography. This is because these locations offer more time to take the shot before the Moon decides to hide behind the buildings in the city. You can, indeed, come back at a later date to keep going with your photography.

Also, you’ll have to keep track of the moon rising and sitting to know when you can get the shape of the mood you desire. Usually, a full moon looks the most mysterious and beautiful, but a half moon has its own charm.

And last, keep an eye on the light pollution in your region. When photographing the stars and the moon, it’s always ideal to do so from a location with very few lights, which is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

Turn Off The Flash

Turn Off The Flash on iPhone for moon photography

A moon is already getting the light it needs, it does not require your iPhone’s Flash so it would be better to keep it off.

Press the ‘Flash’ icon that looks like a bolt of lightning in the top-left corner to turn it off.

Manually Set The Exposure

The most difficult aspect of photographing the moon on an iPhone is exposure. The camera will not modify the exposure configurations to properly expose the moon because it is so tiny within the visual field.

The night sky enclosing the moon might very well take up the majority of the image, and as a side effect, your iPhone will expose the setting for the black sky. Since the moon is so shiny in comparison to the sky at night, it will be highly exposed.

Manually set the Exposure for moon photography on iPhone

You can try tapping on the moon to work on the exposure, but the lens is unlikely to appropriately expose the moon because it is too negligible in the frame: The moon we see is nothing as compared to the sky that ‘holds’ it for us.

To tackle this, you must manually adjust the exposure. Fortunately, this is a simple process in the iPhone’s camera app.

Follow these steps to manually refocus and expose your camera:

Launch the camera.

To display the exposure settings, touch the screen.

Tap the desired location to relocate the focus area. To change the exposure, move the Adjust Exposure button down or up beside the focus point.

Long press the area of focus till you notice AE/AF Lock; touch the screen to activate the exposure configurations for future shots.

You can accurately select and hold the exposure for future shots on iPhone 11 (and later). Press the Camera Controls icon, then the Exposure, and modify the exposure with the slider. The exposure is locked till you start the Camera again.

Take Your Shot!

Take Your Shot of the moon with iPhone

There is no such thing as the ‘perfect shot’.

Hear me before you start freaking out for no reason! I am NOT telling you that you’ll never get it perfect. All I am trying to say is that it will take A LOT of clicks to get the one you desire.

DO NOT let that disappoint you. As they say:

“There is no failure except in no longer trying”

However, instead of letting your iPhone work on its own, set the camera up manually and experiment with different exposures and other settings.

Other Camera Apps

Other Camera Apps on iPhone for moon photography

An iPhone is known for its camera and gives the best results, imagine what would it do with the dedicated camera apps that allow advanced settings.

You can try using Halide Mark II and ProCamera for your Astrophotography for improved photos.

Other Guides On Photography Tips

YouTube Video Ideas: The Ultimate List
Top 10 Composition Tips In Photography
Nature Photography Tips For Beginners
CityScapes Or Urban Landscapes Photography Tips
10 Common Photography Mistakes And How To Avoid Them?
Photography Tricks: Essential Camera Movements For Filmmaking!
The Best Digital Photography Tips For Everyone From Beginners To Experts
How To Take Pictures Of Moving Objects Without Blur: Boost Your Creativity!

Wrapping Up

That’s all I had to share on Moon Photography using an iPhone. If you are still confused about something or if anything bothers you, you are free to as in the comments, and do tell us if the guide helps you!

About the author

Erick Rowan

Hi, this is Erick. I can't resist testing Laptops, Gaming PCs, and cameras. Being a photographer and gamer, I am always eager to try something. I am reviewing and helping people for almost 7 years with my experience with the mentioned technologies and I'll keep doing this till the end.