Not everyone can afford or wants to carry around a clunky SLR camera, despite how great the photos are. With phones now packing a decent punch with their onboard cameras, and the ability to take full 1080p video, the average amateur photographer only needs their phone to get some great photos. With Android’s latest offering on Lollipop offering additional control over the camera via API, this can now be achieved.
Here are some tips to get you started.
If you can help it, don’t use digital zoom
- Digital zoom doesn’t actually zoom in, rather it crops the picture to capture a smaller area whilst cutting out the surrounding image. This can always be achieved at a later point using a basic image editor like IrfanView.
Learn what settings take the best photos in which conditions
- There are a number of factors that affect how well your photo comes out. Whether the flash fires, the focal length, aperture, ISO values, and exposure.
Focal length = determines how strongly the system converges or diverges light. A lower setting focuses on shorter distances, a higher setting focuses at a greater distance.
Aperture = determines how much light is captured. A lower setting lets in less light, good for brighter conditions. A higher setting lets in more light, great for dusk and inside photography.
ISO = determines how sensitive your device is to light. Use in a similar fashion to aperture.
Exposure = determines how long your device attempts to capture visual information. A shorter exposure is good for moving object or action shots, a longer exposure allows capturing of images in very low light, like night photography.
All of these settings should be available to you to manually set if you’re running Android 5.0 or greater.
Use HDR mode
- HDR mode, or high dynamic range, take two photos with varying settings at the same time, then combine the best portion of each photo into the final product. This mode is available on most high-speed devices and should be used whenever taking photos of objects with a high level of contrast/shadowing.
Have fun with filters
- Most phones these days come stock with a number of filters that can improve the look of your photos without having much in the way of actual photography talent. Some of the more common filters are retro, black and white and Islandia. Some applications, like Instagram, have additional filters built-in. Give it a try.
Experiment with panorama
- Panorama photos are a great way of capturing a scene that a normal photo wouldn’t do justice. It allows you to scan a scene whilst your camera takes multiple photos, then automatically stitches them together.
Rule of thirds
Most cameras will give you the option of overlaying a grid, splitting your camera view into 9 rectangles. As a rule, you can place the subject of the photo in the crosshairs of two of the lines to provide a dynamic off-center image.