What are HEIF photos on iPhone and how to turn them off?

Newer iPhones use the HEIF file format for images by default. They take up less storage space but may be incompatible with some websites and software.

the iPhone offers one of the best camera systems on any smartphone, but users may experience compatibility issues when taking photos, as the iPhone defaults to the unique HEIF and HEVC formats. The popular Apple smartphone has seen immense changes since its release in 2007, and the camera system is no exception. The first iPhone didn’t even have the ability to take videos and was limited to a tiny sensor that could only capture images. Over the years, iPhone cameras have improved dramatically, with most models now featuring multiple cameras.

Recent iPhone camera upgrades have produced better photos, which in turn, create larger files. Apple’s “Pro” line of iPhones offers ProRAW photos that can be taken on the iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro, or iPhone 13 Pro Max running iOS 14.3 or later. later version. ProRAW photos retain more detail in a photo, which is essential in post-production editing. However, they come at a cost – ProRAW photos average nearly 25MB in size, about 10 times the size of a typical photo. Despite providing higher quality photos, Apple found new ways to keep file sizes to a minimum, including creating its own niche file format.


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The default format for taking photos on iPhone is HEIF, which stands for High Efficiency File Format. Generally, HEIF files are much smaller than more common file formats, such as JPG and JPEG. While there is an advantage to having smaller files on a device – HEIF files average 1.3MB, while JPEGs average 2.5MB per photo – there are some downsides. Apple claims that the HEIF format preserves all the detail and clarity of typical file formats without the excess data of more common storage types, but the result is that it’s incompatible with some websites and apps. Most websites that offer file downloads favor formats like JPEG and reject the default iPhone format.

How to Disable HEIF and HEVC Formats on iPhone

iPhone 1x Camera

Apple’s support for high efficiency file formats – HEIF for photos and High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) for videos – was introduced with iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra. However, the company says that some HEIF and HEVC content may not work properly on older devices and software. The iPhone 7 (and 7 Plus) and newer are fully compatible with High Efficiency Files, as well as some iPads introduced around the same time. Other devices can view, edit and duplicate the files, but may experience limitations depending on the resolution of the photo or the frame rate of the video. For use with older devices and software, Apple recommends shooting HEVC video at 1080p and 60fps or lower, as issues may arise when using higher frame rates or resolutions.

The default option for storing photos and videos can easily be changed in the settings to make content taken on the iPhone compatible with more devices, websites, and apps. To change the default file format, go to Settings > Camera > Formats. In this menu, select the Most compatible only available on devices that natively support HEIF and HEVC files. After selecting this option, photos will be automatically saved as JPEG files and videos will be saved in common H.264 file format. To return to using the new file formats, select the High efficiency in the same menu will record content in both HEIF and HEVC formats. While Apple’s high-efficiency default file formats can save storage space on a iPhonetheir incompatibility with certain devices, websites and applications can cause problems later on.

Next: How to turn iPhone into a thermal imaging camera

Source: Apple

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