It’s easy to take better photos with your Android smartphone, you just need to learn the tricks. Below are some simple ideas that users of any level can try out with their device. Improve your smartphone photography skills today with these top tips.
1. Clean your lens
The first place to start when trying to take a good picture is to clean your smartphone’s camera lens. These frequently become dirty and the results will be a blurry image. Every time you go to take a picture, give the lens a quick wipe on your T-shirt first to sweep away any grime.
2. Use touch-to-capture or volume shutter for selfies
When shooting a classic selfie, it’s all-too-easy to drop your phone when attempting to press the capture button. By enabling touch-to-capture, it’s hard to miss the trigger: it becomes the whole screen.
Alternatively, depending on which is your preferred hand, it may be easier to reach the volume controls. This option isn’t available on every device, but if it’s on your handset you should find it in the settings menu under volume control function, or use volume control as.
3. Never miss a shot with quick-launch
Many Android smartphones have a shortcut to launch the camera, rather than entering the dedicated app. The native Android solution to this is a camera icon located at the bottom of the lockscreen which you can swipe but on some devices all you need to do is double-tap the power/lock button.
On later Samsung phones, a double-tap on the home button will do the trick.
These shortcuts are there to help you access the camera as quickly as possible. Though they won’t guarantee your pictures will be better, they could help you capture a shot you would normally miss.
4. Shoot in landscape
We have become accustomed to a 16:9 media format and as a consequence, pictures shot in portrait just tend to look awkward now. Unless there is an important reason that you would need a taller shot (like, say, shooting a picture of the Fernsehturm from a close distance), pictures are almost always better in landscape.
5. Avoid using the flash (most of the time)
Even on a DSLR camera, the flash function is generally best saved for emergencies. If you can use natural light to illuminate your picture, you always should, because you want your pictures to look natural, don’t you?
There is a time and a place for the LED flash on smartphone cameras, but because it tends to be located very close to the lens, it can have a nasty glaring effect. If natural light isn’t quite enough, increase the exposure value (EV) and ISO on your camera. Bear in mind that increasing ISO will also increase the graininess or ‘noise’ in your pictures.
The exception to this rule, as suggested by BruinGuy, is when taking pictures in daylight when the sun is behind the subject of your picture. Of course, where you can help it, the sun should be behind your camera, but when you can’t avoid this, try using the flash to illuminate the faces or details that would otherwise be in shadow.
6. Don’t use digital zoom
Digital zoom is notorious for destroying smartphone photos. Unless your camera has an optical zoom, where the camera lens actually protrudes out of your device (like the actually-not-great Samsung Galaxy K Zoom), all zooming does is enlarge and crop the picture.
“Can’t I just do that after I’ve taken the photo?” I hear you ask. Well, yes, you can – that’s the point! Digital zoom merely narrows the editing options for your picture. Take fully zoomed-out photos, then crop them manually if you want to.
7. Check details of your best, worst and Auto photos
We all have some photos that come out incredibly well and others that are pretty awful. Whenever you take either a great or terrible photo, check the ‘Details’ of the photo to see what ISO, exposure time and aperture it had.
This way, you’ll slowly learn which settings on your smartphone work best with which light conditions. This is particularly useful for ‘Auto’ photos, so you can get a feel for the settings your camera resorts to by default and adjust them accordingly.
8. Use HDR mode
HDR is a great mode for taking photos of stationary objects, as long as you have steady hands. HDR (high dynamic range) mode ensures that the lighting and shadows in the photo are evenly exposed. This is particularly useful for photos with high contrast.
HDR mode takes two or more pictures of varying exposures almost simultaneously, then combines the best and brightest bits of both into one photo. You need to keep the camera super-steady, otherwise, your photo will come out blurred.
9. Use the post-processing filters
There are plenty of people out there who pour scorn onto all the lovely filters you can enhance your photos with. But for casual smartphone photographers, those retro, black-and-white, Windmere, Islandia, and other filters can really add character to a photo. Most Android smartphones come with a great selection of filters, but if you’re running a bit short, try Pixlr (formerly Pixlr Express) for a great selection.
10. The ‘reflective sunglasses’ trick
If you have a pair of sunglasses with a reflective coating on the lens, you can use them to capture a good perspective for your shots, like in the example below. The light source should always be reflected off the lens to help you better capture the scene or action that’s in your view.