Isn't it amazing how much smartphone cameras have evolved over the past years? As we're already convinced having tested dozens of them, most high-end handsets can easily match the performance of a basic point-and-shoot unit. This helps to explain why more and more people don't bother carrying a dedicated camera with them anymore and just use their phones instead. However, while smartphone cameras are, in general, simple and straightforward to use, not all people know how to make the most of them. And what's really disturbing, some smartphones are, by default, set to not use the full potential of their cameras. That's why we decided to write this post and give novice users a few helpful tips on smartphone photography.
Smartphone photography tips and tricks
Smartphone photography tips and tricks
1. Hold your phone steady or find support
Always make sure you have a good grip on your smartphone while taking photos. Try to not move it at all while taking the shot as every tremble of your hand may result in a blurry photo, especially if your camera doesn't stabilize the image optically or digitally. For the same reason, you should be gentle when tapping that shutter button.
2. Do not use digital zoom. Crop later or get closer instead
Digital zoom should be avoided as the digital image stretching process reduces image quality - the more you zoom, the worse your image looks. Instead, crop your photo after you've already taken it - most smartphones come with the necessary editing tools built right into their gallery apps. Of course, getting closer to your subject would be a better alternative to zooming.
3. Use your camera's best resolution and aspect ratio
Go to your phone's camera settings and make sure you're using the highest resolution available. Also, do not use a 16:9 aspect ratio for your photos unless you know that your camera has a 16:9 image sensor. For example, the Motorola Moto X, Droid Ultra, and the HTC One use native 16:9 camera sensors, which is why they take "widescreen" images by default. With most other smartphones, however, you should stick to the "classic" 4:3 aspect ratio.
4. Clean your camera lens
A smartphone's camera lens can get dirty very easily, which is why you should take a moment to clean it from time to time. Wiping it with a piece of soft cloth should work.
5. Set the right focus and exposure with a tap
If you feel like your photo isn't exposed right or if it is out of focus, tap on your subject. The camera software on many phones is configured to set both its focus and exposure based on what area of the frame you tap on.
6. Follow the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds is a simple and easy trick you can use when composing your photos. Imagine that the frame is split into three equal sections vertically and horizontally, as pictured. Place your subject along one of the vertical lines, or where a horizontal and a vertical lines intersect. Then place the horizon along one of the horizontal lines. Try it!
Image via Wikipedia
7. Learn how to use your camera's modes
Most smartphones come with camera apps that are rich in features. Some can be used to erase moving objects within the frame or to add impresive effects to them. Other modes are meant for taking photos of fast-moving subjects, or for shooting at night. Experiment with them! Knowing how to use these modes in advance will help you later at a time when you actually need them.
8. Try alternative camera apps
The Android, iOS, and Windows Phone marketplaces offer a number of alternatives to your smartphone's stock camera app. Camera FV-5 for Android and KitKam for iOS are two great examples of a well-made camera replacement application. If you find your phone lacking in advanced or manual camera settings and tweaks, give these a try.
9. Take multiple photos
Have you ever taken a photo only to look at it later and realize that someone has blinked, that it has turned out blurry, or that someone has pulled off a photobomb on you? That's why it is a good idea to capture a couple of photos, just in case. You can always delete the ones you don't need later.
10. Edit your photos, but don't go too far
When used right, photo filters can turn a dull photo into an artsy shot. However, you should try to avoid overusing them. Try to manipulate your images with moderation instead of slapping a "Lo-fi" on every shot. Besides, photo filters aren't the only way you can tweak a photo. Chances are your phone's image gallery comes with built-in tools for tweaking the saturation and brightness of images. Frames are likely available as well.