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When Apple's new iOS 7 comes to your iPhone later this month, the native Camera app will have a new look and feel for the first time in years.

We've already highlighted a few camera apps that are way better than Apple's for serious iPhoneography, but here are seven tips to prepare you for the new native iOS Camera app.

1. You can shoot square.

Apple has decided to join the square-format revolution spawned by Instagram with a special setting for square shooting. No more cropping. They've cut out the middle man. The panorama, HD and video modes are all still there and pretty much unchanged.

2. You can apply filters.

Following in the steps of every photography app on the planet, Apple has added native filters to iOS 7.

You can apply filters before you take a picture (center), or after (left, right) in the Photos app. There are three black and white, and five color film-like filters.

3. Quick access from anywhere.

The native camera app isn't always the best, but it is usually the fastest. In quick draw situations like street photography, it's the best camera to use so you don't miss a moment.

It's always right there on the lock screen. In a new feature, you'll have quick access by swiping up from the bottom of the screen when your phone is unlocked. This pulls up the new Control Center and your camera is right there.

4. More ways to share your pictures.

  • Flickr and Vimeo integration. You'll be able to upload your photos and videos to Flickr and Vimeo straight from the Photos app.
  • AirDrop. Once all your friends have iOS 7, you can share pictures with them from the Photos app via AirDrop. You still can't beam a photo or video from an iOS 7 device to your Mac. We use the Dropbox app for that.
  • Present photo slideshows on the fly. And, if you have an Apple TV, you can display them on your television. You can set the mood with music accompaniment.

5. Your camera roll, "organized."

We're wary of any attempt by Apple to organize our stuff. It's tried to take over for more than a decade; first with our music, then our photo library and then our video. Sometimes our iBrains don't know what's best.

Now, they're taking over our Camera Rolls. It's similar to how iPhoto organizes your pictures into 'Events,' your camera roll will be separated into 'Moments.'

'Moments' are organized in 'Collections,' and – zooming further out – in years.

We do get lost in the never-ending stream of photos that fills our Camera Rolls. But if you look at the screenshots below, the grouping seems somewhat arbitrary and confusing.

For serious iPhoneographers, a way to flag or rate selected photos would be a really useful feature. For now, the jury's out on whether automatic organization helps or hurts.

6. You can lock your exposure and focus.

Auto exposure/auto focus lock is not a new feature in iOS7, but most people don't know about it. It's an essential tool for serious photographers in situations where the light is changing frequently or where there is a lot of difference between the light and dark parts of your image.

Instead of tapping the screen to select your focus and exposure, hold your finger down until the blue (yellow in iOS 7) square flickers twice.

That locks your exposure and focus, then you can re-frame your shot.

7. Use the volume button to take a picture.

This is the most useful feature of the iOS Camera app, and some people don't even know it exists!

Instead of fumbling to push a virtual shutter button on the screen, use the volume buttons to make sure you get the shot.

This isn't a new feature. Apple has forbade third-party camera apps from using the Volume button as a shutter release. What's up with that, Apple?

As far as we know, Camera+ is the only app that had the feature grandfathered in before Apple's capricious app guidelines changes. That's why we recommend it.

Some notes and observations

  • Turning the grid on and off is no longer in the camera app itself. You'll have to go to Settings > Photos & Camera.
  • The shutter button is rounded, making it a slightly bigger and easier target to thumb-tap.
  • Now you can see whether you have HDR on or off while shooting.
  • Aesthetically, the shutter animation while switching between camera modes has been replaced with a simple image blur. Like the rest of iOS 7, the camera app has very flat, minimalist graphics with some bursts of color.

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