How-Tos

How to improve your smartphone camera quality (photography)

Someone rightly said the best camera is the one in your pocket, and most of the times it’s always a smartphone that’s in our pocket. Most mid-range Android smartphones like Tecno Camon X and Camon X Pro now come with outstanding camera capabilities but you might still find it difficult to get the best out of these cameras, so today we shall see how to improve your smartphone photography game.

Now not all smartphones camera are equal, they all have different sensors, lenses and softwares which will give you large variations in picture quality. So today we shall see how we can improve smartphone images irrespective of the phone you have.

To simplify it for you, we have split the guide into three parts Pre-shooting, During Shoot and Post-Processing.

 Pre-Shooting:

  • Know your camera settings: While a smartphone camera can be accessed instantly, make sure you have checked all image settings properly. Things to check out for.
  • Image Resolution: Make sure you keep the image at the highest possible resolution. This will make your file size larger but will enable you to capture more details in each image.
  • Aspect Ratio: Some cameras change to a 4:3 aspect ratio at max resolution so make sure you know which type of aspect ratio you will need a wider 16:9 or a narrower 4:3.
  • Storage: Always save on your phone’s internal memory as it will be faster than saving on your memory card.
  • Auto HDR: Keeping this setting on will allow the camera to capture multiple photos and then merge them to give you better dynamic range.
  • Hardware Shutter: Many people prefer to have a button to capture the image rather than a software touch. You can always configure the volume keys as a shutter button.
  • Flash: Always keep your flash off, unless it’s absolutely necessary.Most phone flashes are quite harsh and will give bad photos so always use natural light or use diffused light sources which give softer lights.

Pro-Tips:

  • Shoot in RAW format so you can edit the images much better afterwards
  • Try to use the onboard optical image stabilization to get better stability during low light images.
  • Don’t always shoot with the bokeh mode, shoot a few images using normal modes also as bokeh modes are not always perfect.
  • Do not hesitate to take more photos, you can always pick the best one and delete the rest later.

During Shoot:

2) Go Manual: Newer smartphones come with camera apps that have a manual mode in them, the manual mode lets you tinker around with a few settings that will help improve your photography. While in a DSLR where you can control three manual aspects i.e. Aperture (Opening of the lens), Shutter Speed (Time the shutter is open) and ISO ( Light sensitivity), you can only control the shutter speed and ISO on a smartphone camera. This is because smartphones have fixed apertures although there is currently just one phone with a variable aperture camera, the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus. But not to worry you can still achieve a lot with just tinkering around with the shutter speed and ISO settings.

Shutter Speed: Playing around with the shutter speed will give you different effects in your photos like a slow shutter speed will give you smooth water or light streaks. Make sure you use a tripod or keep your hand steady while capturing slow shutter pictures.

A slow shutter speed gives the water a silky feel (image from Topcut)

ISO: Increasing your cameras ISO will make the scene brighter but will introduce a lot of grain into your photo as shown below. Use high ISO when absolutely necessary.

Low light image with ISO 3200 and no flash gives a lot of grain

If you don’t have manual settings in your camera you can always download a new camera app from the Play store. Here are some of the most popular manual camera apps for Android phones.

3) Composition: Composition is all about knowing where to put the subject into the frame. Photography isn’t about just pointing at things and clicking away it’s a lot more artistic than that. To get the best results follow on of the following framing rules.

  • The rule of thirds: This involves splitting the frame in 3 equal parts horizontally and vertically and then placing the subject at the intersection to make the picture more appealing. Most cameras have this rule of thirds grid by default.

(image from Topcut)

  • Golden Ratio: Golden ratio is actually a design principle that has been used in many architectural pieces, painting and can also be found in the nature. A snail shell is an example of the golden ratio, and keeping certain portion of the subject along the golden ratio curve will make your photography more proportionate.

  • Space & Direction: Any subject that you take must be give space in the photography. For example the scooter in the image below has a lot of blank space on the left which is the direction in which it is pointing. Now doing the opposite of that, i.e. keeping the scooter on the left (pointing towards the left and giving space on the right would look bad. Doing it correctly will give your subjects a sense of motion and direction.

  • Framing: Framing or natural framing is using objects in your photo as a frame around your subject. It can be trees, or doorways or caves. These natural frames will draw the viewer’s attention to the subject.

Post-Processing:

Once you’ve clicked your pic you may want to correct few things like brightness, contrast, white balance or some blemishes in the image. You can even improve your image by adding a few filters to further get the best out of the image. Now smartphones being compatible with a wealth of apps you can easily click, edit and then even post your picture online all from a single device.

Before and After editing

Here are a few photo editor we recommend, they all allow you to do a lot more than basic photo editing like selective coloring, HDR effects, level adjustment etc.

Now once you are done editing your pictures a new little trick you can use to make your social media post more appealing is do not post picture place-wise. Instead make folders based on different subjects. Doing this gives more purpose to your posts and you don’t end up with a dump of photos. So go follow these simple tricks and get creative.

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About the author

Henry

Android is my specialty, what I don't know about Android devices isn't worth knowing 😊

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