Tips to Step Up Your Smartphone Photography Game

Camera sales have fallen globally in 2017 and the trend is set to continue. DSLRs are being purchased only by a handful of those who are serious about photography. However, for most casual photographers, smartphones are providing the perfect balance of quality and simplicity without the learning curve of a DSLR camera. The iPhone 8, the iPhone X, the Pixel 2 and even the budget Moto G devices are prime examples of how capable modern smartphone cameras are. These are some of the best photography oriented phones.

So, if you have been planning to leave your camera home for your next vacation, here is a set of tips that you can use to improve your smartphone photographs.

Dual Lenses are Still Not that Great

Dual lens cameras are the new craze now. Every single manufacturer has come up with phones that uses two cameras to take a single photo. Using two cameras enable the camera to measure how far each object is and then it is used to blur the background – something that you get using DSLR cameras or even using expensive point and shoot cameras. However, this works quite differently on smartphones and cameras. Smartphones merely simulate the blur whereas, in cameras, it occurs because the regions are out of focus. Also, the blurring process is different.

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In short, the faux depth effect of dual cameras is just not there yet. They work only under certain conditions. So, when taking photos, turn in off, and make use of the single lens setup. If your subject can be easily separated from the background and has a simple outline, then the faux depth effect will work fine.

Learn the basics

If you want to seriously want to take photographs, you need to learn some technical jargon first. These include terms such as “ISO”, “shutter speed”, “aperture”, “exposure” and” white balance”. In most smartphones, the aperture setting cannot be tweaked. You can read about them in details here.

Along with having a basic understanding of these parameters, you need to know how to operate your phone’s camera program, learn what each option is and what function they provide.

Composition is the key

The first thing that makes a photo look great is the composition and the lighting. Here are some photographs that are shot on smartphones but look like they were shot using much more expensive cameras.

So, before you take a photo, you need to take a moment to compose the photo. One simple trick to compose photographs is to use the rule of thirds. Most stock camera apps come with this 3×3 grid. It is there on iOS and if your stock Android camera does not have it, you can download Open Camera.

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The rule of thirds is a thumb rule that tells yours to place your subject in one of the lines or at their intersection while taking the photograph.

Lighting matters

Smartphone cameras generally suffer in low light conditions because of their small sensor size. With smaller sensors, the size of each pixel on the sensor falls drastically and hence their ability to gather light. Having a large aperture helps in certain conditions, but not always.

When you are shooting in low light, try not to push the camera too far. If the ISO hits the maximum and the shutter speed falls to the minimum, then it’s too dark for your phone’s camera. In that case, it’s better that you don’t take the photo.

Don’t Zoom In

Unless your dual camera phone comes with a telephone lens, don’t zoom in. Zooming in simply crops the image and resamples it – that is, you get something called a digital zoom. That is why zooming in degrades the picture quality. If you need to zoom in when getting closer to the subject. If you cannot zoom in, then another alternative is to crop after taking the photo.

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Get proper accessories

To zoom in, you can get third party add-on lenses that provide a good level of optical zoom. You can also get macro lenses too that allows you to get really close to your subject. If you are using telephoto lenses, then to stabilize your phone, you will also need a steady tripod.

Small tripods for phones also offer a good way to shoot time-lapses and hyperlapses. You can use the Microsoft Hyperlapse app to shoot as well as stabilize such video right on your phone.

Another important accessory to have if you are using your smartphone as your go-to camera on vacations is a power bank. Keeping a power bank connected to your phone, when you are shooting time-lapse will allow you to take much longer time lapses.

Finally, keep shooting

Learning to take good photos requires you to take more and more photos. This will allow you to discover your forte as well as understand the limitations of your device and how you can work around them.

If you have some smartphone photography tips to share, let us know in the comments below. Also, check out this article on the best photography apps for Android devices.


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