Having cameras in smartphones has become such a norm, it’s almost unthinkable to imagine a smartphone without it. Also, not one but two camera lenses are now mostly present on our favourite devices. We’ve even coined a term for taking images with the front shooter – Selfies. However, do most of us know, how to use the camera to its full potential? They say that a camera is only as good as the photographer. So, if you want to learn how to take decent quality pictures we’ve got some basic tips that might help you with your future snaps.
First things first. Smartphone cameras are not as good as DSLRs. The lens megapixel count is lower, the manual controls are much less detailed, and editing is also nowhere near the Adobe PS experience. Some high-end phones have started to ship with super manual controls but they are accessible to a few. We intend to cover some general tips that would be handy for any smartphone user.
Coming back to the subject. When this happens, you have to make do with what you have and go back to basics. Hence, with smartphones, we rely on the light, the colours, the focus, the exposure and the fundamentals. That is what they call composition in photography. These basic factors will help you in getting the most out of your smartphone camera.
9 Smartphone camera tips to improve photography
1. Know thy smartphone camera
Every phone’s camera is different. You need to take some time and play with its settings. See what options it provides. More importantly, watch it in action. This will provide you with some insight into what will work on your camera better. Take a look at the manual mode to unlock the true potential of your camera because sometimes automatic settings don’t work that well. When you use the auto mode, you’ll notice when it uses high ISOs or long shutter speeds. This will allow you to anticipate when your auto mode will perform poorly. Nowadays, manual modes allow you to change ISO and shutter speed.
2. Wipe your lens before a shot
This is pretty obvious but it tends to get overlooked. The smartphone lens can easily get smudgy and dirty nowadays without us noticing it. In some cases, even natural skin oil can mess with the lens. This will protect you from blurry photos and distortion. Save the lens from smudges, it will save you from awful shots.
3. Let the light guide you
This is one more basic tip, but it can’t be stressed more. Without light, you won’t get the photo quality you need. Some cameras do better than others in low light, but none can do without it. So, stay close to illuminated areas when you’re taking shots. Also, the light should be behind you or above you, pointing towards the subject. This is possible outdoors, but indoors, with limited mobility, this might not be possible.
4. Zoom with your feet
Some smartphones still don’t have optical zoom. If your smartphone doesn’t have optical zoom, the best way to get a good shot is to get as close to the subject as ideally possible. And if your phone has optical zoom like the ones on the Galaxy Note 8 and iPhone X then by all means, it can be used. However, digital zoom is never advised. It will crop your snap, and lower your quality badly. You can do some practice to find the ideal distance for your camera lens by using random objects and moving back and forth.
5. Run away from the Flash
Flashlight is much suitably used to find things whereas, for smartphones, it is much better kept off. Unless of course, there is no way to take a snap without one, then indulge it. Mostly, it leads to photos of normal people with scary vampire eyes. It makes you suspicious. Almost any other light source will do better than the flash. Some people use diffusers as an accessory but that’s another hassle. So, in low light conditions, when the obvious reaction is to turn on the flash, just search for an alternate source. For example, a candle, a lighted billboard, or whatever source that is close.
6. Take many photos and use burst shots
You can never take too many photos, or so they say. If your smartphone storage is lying idle, why not use it. ESpecially when taking photos of moving objects, this is very useful. You never know when you snapped the perfect one.
Some phones come with burst mode. When you press and hold the shutter button, it takes a number of quick shots of the same scene. Later, you will be able to choose between them as you like. Not all burst shots are great, but you do find one or two as per your liking usually. Also, once you’ve selected your pick, you can delete the other ones, so they don’t take unnecessary space.
7. Edit the photo
There are a gazillion photo editing apps that you can use after you take your picture. From tweaking contrast, to adding filters and stickers, you can do as much as you like. There’s no one size fits all solution over here. The best way is to experiment and try.
8. Try another camera app like the Google HDR + camera
This is obviously for Android users. And not all can use the Google HDR camera. Google’s Pixel 2 not only comes with a great lens, its image processing algorithm does wonders too. So, if you can’t have Google’s Pixel you can at least have its algorithms. Many users have reported a substantial improvement in picture results with the ported software. There are still other third-party apps in the Play Store that can also help in achieveing similar results provided you experiment with them.
9. Use Smartphone’s HDR Mode
While Smartphone cameras have come a long way, there’s has been addition of various application features that allows you to capture your subject with lot more details. HDR, which stands for High dynamic range allows you to take the perfect shot irrespective of the lightning. High-dynamic-range photographs are generally achieved by capturing multiple standard-exposure images, often using exposure bracketing, and then later merging them into a single HDR image, usually within a photo manipulation program). Only downside to this feature is slow processing. Since a lot of processing goes into combining different details, HDR is only stable for landscapes and portrait shots.