10 tips for using your mobile phone camera to shoot like a pro
I’ve all but given up using a single-lens reflex (SLR) camera because modern camera phones are packed with lots of pixels and software is so versatile.
Don’t get me wrong a camera phone is never going to compete with a professional photographer but the combination of practice, pixels and post production will get you close.
Here are 10 tips from personal experience for getting the best out of your mobile phone camera.
#1 Front versus back
Use the rear camera to shoot. It is always higher definition. The iPhone 6 front camera is 1.2 megapixels versus 8 megapixels for the rear camera. The Galaxy S6 front camera is 5 megapixels versus 16 megapixels for the rear. The front camera should be used only for selfie shots.
As a general rule use a square format for close shots, horizontal for landscape outdoors and vertical for people. Avoid using the flash. It will typically over expose your image as there is only one setting.
#3 Optimise your shot
Pivoting your phone in the vertical plane can dramatically change the amount of light falling on the sensor. Help your camera software to optimise a shot around the area of an image that is the most important to you by double tapping the part of the screen that you want to highlight.
#4 High definition
Set your phone to take the highest definition photo that it is possible to shoot. Make use of all the pixels that your camera has and reduce the size of your image in post-production.
#5 Software zoom
There is only a single lens setting on a mobile phone camera. Any zoom functionality is software driven. Results are typically poor. To get the best image shoot without using the software zoom and make edits in post-production.
My latest gadget is a series of low cost clip-on lenses for my iPhone 6. They’re available from Amazon and eBay for around £10 and increase the versatility of a camera. Use fish eye for a wide panoramic, wide angle for panoramic and macro for close-up.
#7 Post production
There’s a variety of low cost apps to edit and crop images once you’ve take a shot. Photoshop Express allows you tweak contrast, exposure, shadows, hue and more. 10 years ago this type of software functionality would have been prohibitively expensive for an amateur snapper.
#8 Cloud backup and post production
There are lots of services to enable you to back-up your photos to the Internet. iCloud is the standard for Apple. Google+ is an excellent alternative that also has automatic built-in image optimisation and editing capability.
Format your photo to suit your media. Square and horizontal shots work best for Facebook. Twitter favours a wide pillow box format and Instagram crops square. Each of the native apps will help you optimise your image.
Shoot lots of photos. Its the best way to practice. But be sure to clear out your photo library regularly. This is a job that I usually save for commutes. Photo storage cards can help increase the capacity of your phone but are no replacement for regular editing and backup.