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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

Find photos taken by specific iPhone lenses

Note: This story has not been updated since 2020.

Six Colors member Mark writes, presumably while pondering a new iPhone 12 rather than a 12 Pro:

Any way to tabulate/sort which lens your photos used? After listening to #400 of ATP it’s got me thinking “Show me all my wide angle photos” so I can see if I’ve really used it or not.

I can’t figure out any way to do this in Photos on the iPad or iPhone, but on the Mac you can do it via a Smart Album.

The top of the Info window in Photos for Mac.

Every photo shot with an iPhone includes metadata about which device and camera was used. You can see them all in the Info pane, which you can activate by typing Command-I or choosing Window > Info from the menu bar.

In the gray box found toward the top of the Info window, you’ll see some basic data about the photo. The first line indicates the device that took the photo—in my example, an iPhone 11 Pro. The second line displays which lens took the photo, and this is how you can sort out your photos from one another by lens used. On my iPhone 11 Pro, the lenses are:

Camera Label Lens name
Ultrawide 0.5x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 1.54mm f/2.4
Wide 1x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 4.25mm f/1.8
Telephoto 2x iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera 6mm f/2

(Update: When the iPhone camera uses data from two different lenses to generate an “in between” zoom level, or when it’s in Portrait mode, it lists an entirely different lens—one with “back dual camera” as the name rather than “back triple camera.” Since they are technically not taken by one lens, I’ve decided they don’t count.)

These will vary by iPhone model, obviously, but you can always look through your library with the Info window open and fairly quickly find the names for all the lenses on your iPhone. You can even click in the Lens area of the Info window to copy the text and paste it somewhere where the entire content of the field is readable.

Once you’ve got the names, it’s pretty easy to make a Smart Album for just those photos. Here’s what a Smart Album looks like for Telephoto iPhone 11 Pro photos:

That’s it. If you upgrade your iPhone to a model with a different camera system, you could even modify this Smart Album so that it’s catching all the photos of the type you want to capture. (And for the record, my total iPhone 11 output appears to be 603 wide shots, 87 ultrawides, and 163 telephotos.)

If you want to learn a lot more about how the Photos app works on Mac and iOS, check out my book Take Control of Photos, which was just updated for iOS and iPadOS 14 and macOS Big Sur.

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