If you love the convenience of taking pictures with your smartphone but aren’t happy with the quality of those pictures, not to worry because there is definitely something you can do about it. Smartphones are made very high-tech these days, but that doesn’t mean they will always take great pictures because much of this depends on your experience level, what you’re taking a picture of, and more. Regardless of what type of phone you have, learning to use it to take better pictures is a piece of cake once you learn a few basic tips, and below are some great mobile photography tips for beginners to help you get started.
- Never Zoom Digitally
At one time, zooming was a no-no when it came to smartphones because it never produced the quality that people always want, but nowadays this is different. Many smartphones offer you an optical zoom option that provides a 2x zoom capability, which is many users’ favorite feature. What we’re talking about here is a digital zoom, which happens when you use your fingers to zoom in on an object before you take the picture. Digital zooming rarely, if ever, produces a high-quality picture in the end. You’d be better off taking a regular picture without zooming and cropping the picture when you’re finished. Optical zooming is fine; digital zooming is not.
- Take More Than One Shot
This is actually good advice on a regular SLR camera as well. If you take several shots of the same picture, it allows you to choose the best ones when you’re done. In fact, many of today’s smartphones offer two features that help you in this endeavor: some will analyze the photos for you and pick one it thinks is the best one, and some will collect a sequence of shots and place them together in a single “picture” that you can then use to choose which one you like best. This tip is especially important if you’re a beginning photographer, and it also relieves a little of the stress you might feel taking pictures because let’s face it, you can take as many digital pictures as you like and discard the ones you don’t want later on.
- Get to Know Your Auto Mode
All smartphones have an auto mode, so you should become familiar with it to determine all the things it can do for you. Get to know your ISO feature, which is what allows you to brighten or darken your photos, when it uses long shutter speeds, and anything it might do that you don’t like so that you can learn to override it. Most photo settings on your smartphone can be overridden if you want them that way, but first you should take some time and learn about all of them so you can know what each of them does. Once you do this, you’ll be able to switch back and forth between the phone’s features so you can use them at the spur of the moment and therefore take better pictures.
- Compare RAW Versus JPEG Formats
RAW is an image format much like JPEG, only it captures unprocessed data from the camera. With JPEG, white balance is baked into the final shot and you don’t get as much detail as you do with other formats. RAW allows you to get more detail in your pictures, especially when you go to edit the photo. When editing with RAW, you can better control white balance and exposure and still get great quality with your photos. The only thing you have to keep in mind is that photos edited and saved in RAW are typically three to five times bigger than photos saved in JPEG, so if you want to watch the amount of space taken up on your camera, you might not want to use this format very often.
- Lighting Is Important
Just like all other types of cameras, smartphone cameras have to have the right light to take good photographs. Just like regular cameras, the flash on your smartphone may not always be the best, and you can’t always depend on artificial light, either. Because of these things, it’s best to keep in mind some basic rules when it comes to how to snap the perfect picture. For instance, you should always make sure the sun is behind you and not in front of you, because pointing the camera at the sun never makes for a good photograph. In addition, never point up at the sky unless it is a sunny day. If you make sure the sun is behind you and use some common sense, your chances of taking a good photograph is much higher.
- Consider Overriding Your Defaults
This is one of the best smartphone photography hacks there is, because sometimes the default settings are not what you need or want. A few of the most important settings include the ISO and shutter speed, which control things such as how much grain is visible and how much motion blur you get in your photographs. ISOs above 800 capture better light but may make the picture a little grainier. If you set the shutter speeds to longer settings, keep in mind you’ll need a steady hand to take good pictures. These are just a few of the things you’ll learn when playing around with the settings on your smartphone, and it’s good to be familiar with them.
- Make Sure Your Posture Is Right
If you want better pictures on your smartphone, you should always use good posture. Some of the things many people tend to do are not good for snapping pictures, such as taking pictures with your arms outstretched and sticking your elbows out while the photograph is being taken. Stand still and keep your elbows to your side, and if possible, set the phone on a steady object so that it doesn’t move while you’re taking the picture. You can even use a tripod if you like, and even though it may look silly to those around you, it will increase the odds of taking better pictures with your smartphone.