XJones XJones - 27 days ago 6
iOS Question

Why does AVCaptureVideoOrientation landscape modes result in upside down still images?

I am using AVFoundation classes to implement a custom camera in my app. I am only capturing still images, not video. I have everything working but am stumped by something. I take into account the device orientation when a still image is captured and set the videoOrientation of the video connection appropriately. A code snippet:

// set the videoOrientation based on the device orientation to
// ensure the pic is right side up for all orientations
AVCaptureVideoOrientation videoOrientation;
switch ([UIDevice currentDevice].orientation) {
case UIDeviceOrientationLandscapeLeft:
// Not clear why but the landscape orientations are reversed
// if I use AVCaptureVideoOrientationLandscapeLeft here the pic ends up upside down
videoOrientation = AVCaptureVideoOrientationLandscapeRight;
case UIDeviceOrientationLandscapeRight:
// Not clear why but the landscape orientations are reversed
// if I use AVCaptureVideoOrientationLandscapeRight here the pic ends up upside down
videoOrientation = AVCaptureVideoOrientationLandscapeLeft;
case UIDeviceOrientationPortraitUpsideDown:
videoOrientation = AVCaptureVideoOrientationPortraitUpsideDown;
videoOrientation = AVCaptureVideoOrientationPortrait;

videoConnection.videoOrientation = videoOrientation;

Note my comments in the landscape cases. I have to reverse the orientation mapping or the resulting image is upside down. I capture and save the image with the following code:

[self.stillImageOutput captureStillImageAsynchronouslyFromConnection:videoConnection
completionHandler:^(CMSampleBufferRef imageSampleBuffer, NSError *error)
NSData *imageData = [AVCaptureStillImageOutput jpegStillImageNSDataRepresentation:imageSampleBuffer];
self.stillImage = [UIImage imageWithData:imageData];
// notify observers (image gets saved to the camera roll)
[[NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter] postNotificationName:CaptureSessionManagerDidCaptureStillImageNotification object:self];
self.stillImage = nil;

There is no other image processing or manipulation.

My app works with the code above. I'm just trying to understand why the orientation constants must be reversed for landscape orientations. Thanks!


Heh, it seems nobody felt like chiming in on this one. Turns out the answer is straightforward. Images captured via the stillImageOutput captureStillImageAsynchronouslyFromConnection:... method always end up with the following properties:

  • UIImage orientation = always UIImageOrientationRight regardless of device orientation
  • UIImage size = W x H (e.g. portrait width x portrait height, depends on your camera resolution)
  • CGImage size = depends on device orientation (e.g. portrait or landscape)

So the solution to rotate the image up is to use the device orientation in conjunction with the CGImage size to apply an appropriate affine transform. As I'm answering my own question, I'm not the solution in code but I ended up writing a routine called:

- (UIImage *)imageRotatedUpForDeviceOrientation:(UIDeviceOrientation)deviceOrientation

in a UIImage category containing various image processing enhancements.

EDIT - Implementation Example

I've received a number of requests for functional code on this. I've extracted the relevant implementation from a working app.

// this method is implemented in your capture session manager (wherever AVCaptureSession is used)
// capture a still image and save the device orientation
- (void)captureStillImage
    UIDeviceOrientation currentDeviceOrientation = UIDevice.currentDevice.orientation;
      completionHandler:^(CMSampleBufferRef imageSampleBuffer, NSError *error) {
          NSData *imageData = [AVCaptureStillImageOutput jpegStillImageNSDataRepresentation:imageSampleBuffer];
          if (imageData) {
              UIImage *image = [UIImage imageWithData:imageData];
              NSDictionary *captureInfo = {
                  @"image" : image,
                  @"deviceOrientation" : @(currentDeviceOrientation)
              // TODO: send image & orientation to delegate or post notification to observers
          else {
              // TODO: handle image capture error

// this method rotates the UIImage captured by the capture session manager based on the
// device orientation when the image was captured
- (UIImage *)imageRotatedUpFromCaptureInfo:(NSDictionary *)captureInfo
    UIImage *image = [captureInfo objectForKey:@"image"];
    UIDeviceOrientation deviceOrientation = [[captureInfo objectForKey:@"deviceOrientation"] integerValue];
    UIImageOrientation rotationOrientation = [self rotationNeededForImageCapturedWithDeviceOrientation:deviceOrientation];
    // TODO: scale the image if desired
    CGSize newSize = image.size;
    return [imageScaledToSize:newSize andRotatedByOrientation:rotationOrientation];

// return a scaled and rotated an image
- (UIImage *)imageScaledToSize:(CGSize)newSize andRotatedByOrientation:(UIImageOrientation)orientation
    CGImageRef imageRef = self.CGImage;    
    CGRect imageRect = CGRectMake(0.0, 0.0, newSize.width, newSize.height);
    CGRect contextRect = imageRect;
    CGAffineTransform transform = CGAffineTransformIdentity;

    switch (orientation)
        case UIImageOrientationDown: { // rotate 180 deg
            transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(transform, imageRect.size.width, imageRect.size.height);
            transform = CGAffineTransformRotate(transform, M_PI);
        } break;

        case UIImageOrientationLeft: { // rotate 90 deg left
            contextRect = CGRectTranspose(contextRect);
            transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(transform, imageRect.size.height, 0.0);
            transform = CGAffineTransformRotate(transform, M_PI / 2.0);
        } break;

        case UIImageOrientationRight: { // rotate 90 deg right
            contextRect = CGRectTranspose(contextRect);
            transform = CGAffineTransformTranslate(transform, 0.0, imageRect.size.width);
            transform = CGAffineTransformRotate(transform, 3.0 * M_PI / 2.0);
        } break;

        case UIImageOrientationUp: // no rotation

    CGBitmapInfo bitmapInfo = CGImageGetBitmapInfo(imageRef);
    CGColorSpaceRef colorSpaceRef = CGImageGetColorSpace(imageRef);

    // madify bitmapInfo to work with PNG if necessary
    if (bitmapInfo == kCGImageAlphaNone) {
        bitmapInfo = kCGImageAlphaNoneSkipLast;
    else if (bitmapInfo == kCGImageAlphaLast) {
        bitmapInfo = kCGImageAlphaPremultipliedLast;

    // Build a context that's the same dimensions as the new size
    CGContextRef context = CGBitmapContextCreate(NULL,

    CGContextConcatCTM(context, transform);
    CGContextDrawImage(context, imageRect, imageRef);

    // Get the rotated image from the context and a UIImage
    CGImageRef rotatedImageRef = CGBitmapContextCreateImage(context);
    UIImage *rotatedImage = [UIImage imageWithCGImage:rotatedImageRef];

    // Clean up

    return rotatedImage;

// return the UIImageOrientation needed for an image captured with a specific deviceOrientation
- (UIImageOrientation)rotationNeededForImageCapturedWithDeviceOrientation:(UIDeviceOrientation)deviceOrientation
    UIImageOrientation rotationOrientation;
    switch (deviceOrientation) {
        case UIDeviceOrientationPortraitUpsideDown: {
            rotationOrientation = UIImageOrientationLeft;
        } break;

        case UIDeviceOrientationLandscapeRight: {
            rotationOrientation = UIImageOrientationDown;
        } break;

        case UIDeviceOrientationLandscapeLeft: {
            rotationOrientation = UIImageOrientationUp;
        } break;

        case UIDeviceOrientationPortrait:
        default: {
            rotationOrientation = UIImageOrientationRight;
        } break;
    return rotationOrientation;