iOS 17 brings an awesome pro camera feature to your iPhone — here’s how to use it

iOS 17 logo on iPhone
(Image credit: Future)

As both a photographer and the Cameras editor here at Tom's Guide, I use a lot of cameras. On every single camera where it's possible to do so, I enable the visual level. 

A level does exactly what it says on the box: It gives you a visual guide to the angle of your camera, to help you figure out when the camera is perfectly level. This is extremely useful for the look and feel of your shots. If a photo has a wonky horizon, your picture is going to look amateur. 

With iOS 17, your iPhone's camera now has a built-in level to help you get straight shots. Slowly but surely, Apple are introducing more features — big and small — that you'd find in today's best mirrorless cameras

Now, this level isn't perfect. For one, it only shows left and right tilt, while the leveling tools in most cameras also show forward and backward pitch to help you figure out if your camera is positioned correctly — this would be extremely useful when trying to line up your iPhone on a tripod, for example, to ensure it's pointing straight ahead and not up or down. I'm not sure why this is omitted, as the iPhone's built-in level tool (found in the Measure app) shows pitch and tilt.

The level of the black and white line shows the iPhone's forward or rear tilt when using the Measure app, while the angle of the line shows the horizontal tilt. When the divide between the black and white lines is in the center of the screen, the iPhone is no longer tilting forward or backward. (Image credit: Future)

The camera level also only works in landscape orientation, which seems weird. I'm a portrait photographer and always use the level in portrait orientation too — horizons can still be wonky in portrait.

Regardless, it's still nice to be given proper photography features, especially on my iPhone 14 Pro Max, which Apple bills as a hardcore photography tool.

The camera level is easy to turn on, but hidden away in Settings. Here's how you turn it on.

How to enable the iPhone camera level with iOS 17

Before we get started, you'll need to be running iOS 17. We can show you how to download and install iOS 17 if you need some help.

1. Go to Settings > Camera

(Image: © Future)

Open the Settings app and tap Camera.

2. Toggle on Level

(Image: © Future)

Scroll down and toggle on Level.

3. Use the Camera in landscape

(Image: © Future)

Now open the Camera app and turn your iPhone horizontally to enter landscape orientation. You'll notice that a level appears in the center of the image preview.

4. Line up the level

(Image: © Future)

Tilt your iPhone accordingly to line up the level. Once you've lined it up and got a straight shot, the level will turn into a single golden line, then disappear (it'll reappear if you tilt the phone). 

That's all there is to it. If you'd like to learn more about the new iOS 17 features, we can show you how to set up StandBy Mode on iPhone, how to mute phone calls using your AirPods and how to share your location in iOS Messages.

Peter Wolinski
Reviews Editor

Peter is Reviews Editor at Tom's Guide. As a writer, he covers topics including tech, photography, gaming, hardware, motoring and food & drink. Outside of work, he's an avid photographer, specialising in architectural and portrait photography. When he's not snapping away on his beloved Fujifilm camera, he can usually be found telling everyone about his greyhounds, riding his motorcycle, squeezing as many FPS as possible out of PC games, and perfecting his espresso shots. 

  • FSugino
    I have an iPhone 12 Pro and the level works in portrait mode, too.
  • jasonf00
    I’m using an iPhone 11 Pro and the level shows up in both orientations in all shooting options except Pano.
    It does disappear if you go beyond ~25-30 degrees off of level, but returns when the tilt is less.