• @davidbaxterphotography

How to take better quality photographs with your phone

Updated: May 17


Have you ever wondered why photographs on your phone never look as good as those you follow on Instagram? Or why sometimes you thought you took a great picture but when you look at it later you notice it's fuzzy and grainy? Whether you have an iPhone or Samsung or any kind of camera phone, there are a few general steps you can follow to help you take better photographs instantly, which can be used for personal or business needs.

USE THE REAR CAMERA

Firstly, always use the rear camera whenever possible. Camera phones have come a long way over the past 10 years, however one thing that has always remained the same, is that the camera on the back is far more powerful than the one on the front. This is because the camera on the back will have more megapixels and a better lens than the one on the front. Next time you see an advert for the latest iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, notice how they mostly solely focus on the ability of the rear camera rather than the front one. I took both of the pictures below on my Samsung galaxy S9+. The first one was taken with the rear camera and the second with the front camera. You can see the difference in quality between the two. The first image is more colourful, sharper and the flowers in the background are blurred, which gives the image a nice depth of field. The second one however has less colour to it, is hazier and almost no depth of field.


Rear Camera:

Front Camera:

HOLD IT STEADY

Secondly, eliminate camera shake by making sure you have a firm grip on the camera and are able to hold it steady. The reasons this is so important is that no amount of Photoshop in the world will recover a picture that suffers from blurriness caused by camera shake. It is possible to polish up images that have a little bit of blurriness, to some extent, however it's better to eliminate this altogether to get the best results. In order to do so, try and hold your phone closer to your body because if you have your arms fully stretched, then you will find it harder to keep it steady. Rest your elbows on your own body or you can use your free arm to keep the other steady if possible. A simple trick is to lean against something nearby, such as a wall, a bench or lamppost to give your body more stability. Also, it can sometimes be easy to move your phone too much when you actually press the button on your screen to take the picture. However, an easy way round this is to use one of the side buttons on your phone to take the photo because this requires less movement.

DON’T ZOOM, MOVE

If the subject you are photographing is too far away, then your first instinct may be to zoom in using the screen. Whilst camera phones are quite powerful, I have yet to come across one that can do this without a substantial drop off in quality, mainly in the form of a grainy image because the resolution has been reduced. This is simply because camera phones don’t have the lens to maintain the quality that a DSLR does and it rarely turns out well. Instead, move closer to your subject, you will be surprised the difference it makes to take a few steps forward. You should get as close as you can to your subject before you even think about using the zoom. Alternatively, if you have gotten as close as you can to your subject, and it still seems small, then you can always crop the image to make it larger. Yes, this will result in less resolution in the image, because you are effectively cutting out pixels, but the image quality will still be better than zooming in, as long as you don’t overdo it. Also, if the image is mainly just going to be viewed on a phone screen, then you won’t notice much of a difference with a cropped photo. Look at the examples below, which were all taken with the rear camera. In the first one I was close to the ornament, in the second I zoomed in and in the last I took it from a distance, then cropped it down, hence the square shape to it. You can see the drop off in quality that the zoom has, it's very hazy, lacks colour and has a grainy effect that you don't see in the other images.


Close to the subject:


Zoomed in:

Cropped:


EXPERIMENT WITH THE SETTINGS

Finally, utilise those other settings on your phone to get the most out of your photos. Most phones now have different settings like a portrait mode to help you take better pictures of people. However, many of us never learn about the settings outside of the first two weeks with our new phone. You don’t need to understand the technical aspect what this phone is doing in portrait mode but it’s simple enough to activate and you can take pictures with and without it, to see the results for yourself. I have found the panoramic function on phones to be extremely useful and powerful. If you activate your panoramic function, then your phone will start to take a photo of what it sees,almost like a video. Then you have to move the phone to cover more of what’s in front of you before hitting the stop button. For example, if you are struggling to get far enough away from a landmark to capture all of it in one image, then the panoramic mode can solve this problem. Or if you want to capture a group of people on one side of the photo and great scenery on the other side, then this can also be solved by this function. Be careful not to overdo it though, otherwise the image will become narrow and look warped similar to the look of a fish eye lens. Also, most people don’t realise that you can also use the panoramic function while holding your phone vertically, you don’t have to just hold it horizontally.


CONCLUSION

If you follow these tips above, then you can instantly start taking better photographs on your phone and these all take very little time and no additional costs other than the phone you already have. Let me know, in the comments below, how you get on with the ones above. If there are any other aspects of taking photos on your phone you struggle with, then let me know and I would be happy to help.

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