TODAY’S crop of phones are built with more than good quality camera systems. Especially if you own any of the mid-end to high-end phone in the market. Besides, the camera is one of the top considerations by consumers when they’re about to purchase a mobile phone. How good is the camera? Do the photos it takes look great? Am I going to look like a movie star with its selfie camera? Does it have wide angle? How many megapixels does it have? How many lenses are in it? Does it have zoom?
No matter what camera you have on your phone right now, I can tell you for a fact that that’s the best camera you have right now. That old photographers’ adage will always hold true - the best camera is the one with you. It doesn’t matter if you have a 100-megapixel camera monster at home right now. If you’re not holding it in your hand when you need to take a photo, it’s not the best camera you have.
Anyway, let me offer a few tips here on how you can take better photos with your phone’s camera.
Use the guides.
I think it’s safe to say that all of the phones today have a feature built into its camera app where you can enable the rule-of-thirds grid or just about any other type of photography guide/grid. If your phone has that, enable it and use it to the hilt. Great photographs start with the rule-of-thirds guide being ingrained in how we take photos.
How do you take advantage of it? My tip will always be to put your main subject on any one of the four intersections between the lines running horizontally and vertically.
Never use (digital) zoom.
If your phone has multiple lenses at the back, chances are one of those will be a telephoto focal length. If that’s the case, then use the physical telephoto lens when you need to zoom in on your photo. Apart from that, avoid using the digital zoom like it’s the plague. You lose more details when using digital zoom. Your photos become grainier the more you zoom in. And as it becomes grainier, you lose quality.
Sure, one can argue that today’s high-end phones are loaded with awesome computational photography algorithms that quality is never sacrificed. Unfortunately, I will disagree on that point. But that’s a separate topic to the discuss.
For now, take it from me, don’t use the digital zoom. If you really have to get a closer shot, it’s better to just get closer physically to your subject. If you can’t then just make do with the non-digital zoom shot.
Avoid the flash.
This is another thing that I recommend avoiding. Using the flash will severely limit how your photo will be lighted. Do you ever notice why things around your subject get dark everytime you use your phone’s flash? That’s because your phone’s flash is not powerful enough to light up the entire scene it sees. It’s priority is to light up whatever is near it.
You’re better off taking your subject to where the light is and take a photo from there. Of course, one can still use flash and come out with something more creative. But if you just want a documentation of what you’ve seen or maybe that delicious plate of gourmet food in front you, turn off the flash and come up with a better photograph.