Smartphones are by far the most common form of camera used today, and it’s easy to see why: they’re compact, most people have one with them at all times, and many can take photos that rival standalone point and shoot cameras.
To help you take the best photos with your phone, we’ve laid out ten handy tips we find ourselves using every day. With this knowledge in hand, you’ll be able to produce some awesome shots from a fairly limited though continually improving camera platform.
1 Know Your Auto Mode
Knowing that automatic shooting mode for your smartphone camera work can help you take good pictures. Take the time to learn when it uses high ISO when it uses long shutter speed and adjusts how you take photos accordingly. It specifically helps to know when auto mode conflicts happen because you can then decide to override the appropriate settings.
2 Override the Defaults
When it comes to choosing settings automatically, smartphones are better, but they do not always believe it to be correct. In difficult situations, in the metering, especially indoors and overcast days, with the best cameras in the market can leave a lot to be desired.
If you think white balance or exposure is off, many smartphone cameras allow you to adjust these parameters as you like. In almost all phones, automatic mode includes a slider that can adjust the exposure on the fly, so there is no reason to capture such photos that are too bright or too dark. White balance adjustments are often required to switch from auto to manual mode (where supported), but many cameras now support fine adjustment at color temperature.
The best manual mode allows you to change the ISO and shutter speed so that you can choose how much speed mist will be present in your images, and how much grain will be visible. Longer shutter speed, usually less than 1/30 of a second, will need steady hands. Over 800 ISOs offer noticeable cereals on a smartphone but receive much more light compared to less ISO. To find the best combination for those shots is worth playing with these settings, the ones you want to achieve, and the great news is the more comprehensive end phones, these are included in the larger manual modes.
If centrally-weighted metering is not providing the correct result, then you may also consider switching to spot-metering, which allows some cameras to allow you to. With preference at the center of the frame, the image looks completely centered on the meter according to what appears. When shooting subjects off-center, switching to spot metering can be a good idea to fully expose the area around the ‘spot’ you have selected. Not every camera allows you to change this setting, but with a handful in which there are extended manual modes, a metering mode comes with the switch.
HDR greatly improves visible detail in shadows.
Photos taken with the now dated Samsung Galaxy S5.
In the original version of this article, we also talked about using HDR mode to improve the dynamic range – a series of light shots intensity can capture a camera in a photo while details of your shots – these days, almost Every phone will automatically activate its HDR mode, so you do not have to worry about manually turning it on. But there are some examples where HDR should be used and not so, so it may be appropriate to force HDR mode.
3 Use Good Posture
An important way to reduce the haze is to know how to hold a smartphone camera in a steady way. Holding your hands outside or away from your body can do more during photography. Carrying your elbows on the edges of your body where there may be necessary stability, where essentially the smartphone can relax on the stationary object.
If you want the right stability, it is possible to get a tripod attachment so that you can slot your smartphone. You will probably see some tripods about using a tripod with your phone and with your phone, but we have seen and achieved some fantastic shots with a tripod in hand. Tripods are especially useful if your smartphone does not include blur-reducing optical image stabilization (OIS) in the camera, or if there is a manual mode that supports exposure photography for long periods of time.
4 Never Digitally Zoom
In the original version of this article, we did not advise users to zoom with a smartphone camera, but these days it is advised that they are not always right. Many phones, including iPhone X and Samsung Galaxy Note 8, include secondary cameras that provide 2x optical zoom. There is no reason why you should not use those cameras because they provide an optical zoom without loss of image quality.
Instead, we recommend against digital zooming. This happens when you pinch or swipe to zoom on most phone cameras: Before the phone is captured, it increases the output from the sensor and crashes.
What is seen on the left is the product of a digital zoom.
Notice the massive loss in quality. Shot on the Huawei Mate 9.
Prior to capturing, digitally zooming does not allow you to reprise the image after this fact: You are essentially losing data and not reducing quality. Yes, the image will appear to show an image in the distance than otherwise, but you can easily take photos without zooming, and then you can harvest it later. Taking photos without zooming provides the flexibility and ability to change your mind later on. This is the best in both worlds.
If you have a phone that includes 2x optical zoom, then it’s best to paste the photo into 1x or 2x zoom, because this will give you full quality of wide angle and zoom camera respectively.
5 Take Multiple Shots
Your smartphone has lots of storage, so for every shot that you want to fully nail, it is advisable to take many photos in quick succession. When portraying dynamic or fast moving objects – such as people, pets, cars etc. – taking many photos will allow you to choose the best shot later without having to worry about getting a perfect image in the first shot.
Even better, many smartphones offer clean photography features. The sequence of most shots will be collected in a ‘photo’ and will allow you to set that whatever photo is the best shot from the bunch. Some phones will analyze photos for you and choose shots that they think are the best, often seeing that everyone is smiling or whether the subject is in focus or not.
We have seen the phones which can add the best parts of each shot to the same picture, ensure that everyone is watching the camera and in fact, everyone is smiling without the need to do so. What you can play with your camera, play with it, you can be surprised how smart it is with an explosion shot sequence.
The last part of the puzzle which often prevents the captured picture with a smartphone from actually seeing it is a post-processing step. All details and necessary information have been captured, but it can not be as alive as you were later, or in the form of sharp, or beautiful.
It’s easy to fix: Chuck the photo in an editing program like a lighter on your computer, or even use an app on the device and start playing around. After transferring some sliders and keeping some boxes, the results can surprise you and your friends.
7 Capture in Raw
RAW relates with the previous tip on photo editing. For many years, DSLR users are capturing in RAW for assistance in the editing process and can benefit from their shots. Today, a small handful of smartphones support RAW capture, so if you are serious about editing while considering switching to RAW rather than basic JPG capture.
For those, Raw is an image format that captures unauthorized (raw) data from the camera. When you capture using JPG, aspects like white balance are baked in the last shot, and the extension is lost in the compression process. The raw format captures everything, before white balance and other parameters are set, and without harmful compression. Editing provides the most information using raw images and allows you to modify things like white balance and exposure with very low-quality loss relative to JPG.
While RAd is best for editing, the pictures used in this format are usually 3 to 5 times more than their JPG equivalent. If the storage space is a matter of concern, then RAW is not for you.
8 Light it up
If you want to be serious about smartphone photography, it is important that your photos will be lit well. Generally, small sensors found in the phone are not always capable when the light gets damaged, so it is always best to ensure that your subject is well lit when taken on a shot. If you can shoot your camera at ISO 200 or less, you will see fewer grains in the final image, and the photos will appear clearer and more effective.
One way to get better light for your smartphone photo is to get strong artificial lights, but it is probably not practical for most people. Flash is not so good, so you can also exclude it. It leaves natural light as the best source, and you have some suggestions for getting the best shots in the light.
Like photographing with any camera, ideally the sun should be behind the camera lens, the subject shines directly without entering the lens. Pointing to a camera on the sun may cause shadow and loss of damage, so do not try to do this unless you want an artistic effect. In the event of clouds, bright sun can be spread throughout the sky, which offers a challenge for a limited dynamic range of phone cameras, so if there is no sunny day, avoid shooting the sky.
Shooting into the sun can create an artistic look, but it might create dark foreground objects and poor visibility. Shot on the Samsung Galaxy S8+.
These suggestions are also for indoor photography. If you are capturing the picture of the group, then do not let everyone stand in front of the window with bright sunlight streaming. Instead, if you use the window as the source of light then you will get a better shot: Take everyone to the window to face the window and take the photo with your back to the window.
As we mentioned earlier, it may also be appropriate to search the spot metering to correct exposure, especially when there is strong backlighting. Ideally, when you do strong backlighting, you will not shoot because smartphone cameras usually have a weak dynamic range, but sometimes it is necessary. And sometimes you can experiment with reflective surfaces to get the light in the right position: often a simple white piece of paper will be enough to direct light from the sun (or artificial light) on your subject.
9 Seal the Google Camera app
This tip is unique to Android smartphone owners, and who want to do some tinkering. The idea here is that Google’s pixel smartphones have very good cameras, and a part of it comes at Google’s excellent processing and HDR implementation. In other words, pixel cameras are so good that the software is not the hardware, and if you put the same software on other smartphones, you may notice improved image quality.
On some phones, users have seen improvements in image quality by using the Google Camera app to display especially dynamic range, HDR and low light display instead of the included camera app. The app is not magically taking a bad camera and making it good as a pixel; Every part of the pixel’s excellent processing is not transferred to other phones through the app. Pixels will always provide the best results using Google Camera But in some cases, the Google Camera app is better than the stock app on other handsets and is worth installing to promote the quality.
Downloading and installing Google Camera is easy. Capture the latest version from APK Mirror on your handset, and install it on your phone. Note that if you’re stuck on an older version of Android then the latest version might not work. This Google Camera may also be worth using with HDR + port, which is a tweaked version of the app which is designed to unlock more processing power. In addition to installing an app outside of the Google Play Store, you must allow installation of apps from unknown sources in your handset’s security settings. But do not worry, the links we’ve provided in this article are safe, verified versions of the Google Camera app.
10 When to use portrait mode
The final tip is related to portrait mode, which has become more common in the last year. Portrait mode attempts to simulate a wide background haze, or ‘Bokey’, which is available with DSLR cameras with wide aperture lenses. In many cases, it is achieved through an additional sensor which provides in-depth information, though phones like Google Pixel 2 can emulate Bokeh without smart edge detection and without additional hardware.
Since Portrait Mode is Simulation of shallow depth rather than real deal, so they have problems associated with them. Edge detection is not always right, so many times when you capture a photo and the areas are blurred that should not be. For the second time, the mist does not look natural, or a realistic lens looks closer to Gaussian mist than the mist. The key to capturing good photos using portrait mode is knowing that when the portrait mode is likely to succeed, and when it will struggle.
A portrait mode photo captured with the Google Pixel 2 XL.
Notice the creamy background blur and decent edge detection