You always have it with you, you might as well try these few ways to get better images out of it.
As the adage goes, the best camera is the one you have with you, and these days that is often likely to be your phone most of the time. That said, many of you are likely hesitant to use your phone or rely on it for pictures because of the poor quality phone cameras used to provide. But those were the old days, and phone cameras these days have more than enough performance for general use photography.
In order to truly get the most out of your mobile camera you are going to want to make sure to do some things – otherwise, you will not be taking advantage of the full capabilities of your phone and may end up disappointed in the images you take. In this post today we are going to cover what you should be doing in order to really take your mobile photography to another level, one you can feel good about.
Install an Advanced Camera App
If you want to have the most control over how the images you get out of your smartphone camera look then, just like with your interchangeable lens camera, you are going to want to shoot in manual mode. There are exceptions but most default camera apps these days are pretty basic. The one on my Pixel 2 XL can do some impressive things but manual control is not one of them (the best I can do is exposure compensation).
So, if you want to take full advantage of your camera, you are going to want to find a good camera app for your ecosystem that will give you the manual controls you need. There are too many out there to list them for each brand, but one app available for both, which you may already be familiar with, is Adobe Lightroom Mobile.
Once you have your app of choice downloaded I recommend using that over your default camera app whenever possible (ie as long as you don’t’ need to use a feature that only the default app can do). As well, if you can modify your white balance that will help too. Phone cameras are not nearly as accurate as your interchangeable lens camera when it comes to metering and auto white balance, so taking control of those two things from the camera and setting them on your own will work wonders for improving the look of your images across the board.
Steady Hands or Sturdy Legs
Your camera sensors won’t have the dynamic range or ISO performance of your DSLR/Mirrorless camera, so sticking to good light during the day is recommended. However, you can extend that ‘good performance’ threshold quite a bit if you get yourself one of those table top tripods or something to stabilize your camera. This will allow you to shoot longer exposures, and keep your ISO down to an acceptable level without excessive noise.
As well, for the sharpest and most detailed image, holding your phone as steady as possible will help with that. Since the sensors in our phones are so small even the slightest movement can cause minute cases of motion blur which result in an image that looks softer than it should.
Expand Your Capabilities with Moment
Probably one of the biggest annoyances you face when putting all of your photographic needs on a phone camera for a given situation (be that a backpacking trip or a day at the zoo) is the lack of versatility. Your phone may have two rear-facing cameras with different fields of view, but most cameras these days still just rock one camera with one field of view. Digital zoom is garbage and should not be used for anything where you want a quality image. So what is one to do?
Invest in a quality accessory lens system like the one available from Moment. The Moment isn’t available for all phones, so you will need to investigate whether or not you can get it on yours. You will be good if you have an iPhone. I recently got it for my Google Pixel 2XL. How Moment works is you buy a case for your phone which comes with a mounting point for their lenses.
You then purchase the lens option you want from them; they have a Tele lens for portraits, a Wide lens for groups and landscapes, a Macro lens for getting up close, and a 170-degree Superfish for ultra wide shots. The lenses are well built and really easy to travel with. They make a great accessory for your phone, and can have a major impact on what you are able to capture.
There are other systems out there as well, such as the Zeiss system which is arguably better if shooting video with your phone is important to you. But for more general everyday photography the Moment is an excellent option and offers everything a stills shooter needs.
Now, these systems aren’t cheap. The Moment case for my Pixel 2 XL is $30, not the end of the world. But each lens is about $100, so if you wanted to get the whole system you are looking at about $400. Not exactly chump change, but if you get the case and one lens, then build from there depending on your needs, you can get a lot of use out of the Moment system.