Many top end mobile phones have cameras of 8 megapixels or more and in theory they should take fantastically detailed high resolution images that are superb. The reality is that taking good photos with a mobile phone isn't easy. The fact that you can hardly see the screen on a sunny day doesn't help when you are trying to frame the subject. There are bigger problems and if your snapshots are fuzzy, here is what you can do to improve them.
One way to improve your photos is to ensure that the camera does not move when you take the photo. One of the reasons why professional photographers use a tripod and a remote shutter release is to reduce camera movement and vibration at the instant a snap is shot. Both can be the cause of blurred images. We're not talking about major blur and it is a tiny effect, but it is certainly noticeable.
A tripod is often out of the question and hardly anyone walks around with one under their arm, but there are other ways to steady a phone. It is often possible to rest it on a wall or post for example, or to rest your elbows or shoulder on a wall while taking a shot.
Phones usually take photos when you tap the screen, but stab it with a fat digit and the vibration could well blur the photo. Some phone camera apps allow you to press and hold, and they take the photo only when you lift off the screen. Lifting off your finger will produce less vibration than tapping. Check if your phone has this feature by trying it.
Some cameras, like the Samsung Galaxy S4 and S5, provide voice control, so you can simply speak to take a photo and doing this would totally eliminate the vibration you would otherwise get from tapping. Check your phone for voice control.
Focus and exposure are often set at the same point and in many camera apps you tap the screen to set both the focus and the exposure. You will get better photos if you can set these two items separately. There are one or two apps that let you tap with two fingers, one for the focus and the other for the exposure.
Some camera apps let you easily over or under expose by adjusting a slider. If there is a lot of sky or it is a snow scene, you should over expose slightly to counterbalance the large amount of light, but if you are taking a silhouette you should under expose slightly to darken the foreground.
If your phone camera app lets you set the ISO rating, this opens up a lot of opportunities. For example, a high ISO is good for night shots, but it can also be used in the day when a fast shutter speed is required along with a small aperture. High ISO settings produce a lot of noise like old film grain, so setting the ISO rating to the lowest number will minimise this and produce the highest quality images. Set it to ISO 50 if you can, but beware of camera shake caused by slow shutter speeds. If you can rest the phone on a wall or post and shoot at ISO 50 you will get great photos.
- Written by Roland Waddilove
- Published: 05 May 2014