The rapid adoption of smartphone cameras has introduced a wider audience than ever to the joys of making pictures. And if you're new to photography, nothing is more frustrating or perplexing than feeling like you've got a great shot, only to find that it's come out blurry. The good news is that there are concrete, practical steps you can take to maximize your chances of capturing a crisp, sharp image. In this installment of our Simple Photo Tips series, I'll show you six of them.
Clean your lens
It may seem a bit obsessive to carry around a lens cloth for your phone, but keeping the lens's optical path clean is one of the most basic ways to improve picture quality. Whether your lens sits flush with the phone's exterior or even worse, extends outward, it's inevitable that a finger or other oil-depositing object will frequently come into contact with its clear protective cover, leaving residue that can smear image details.
A quick wipe with a clean lint-free cloth (available from any camera or eyewear shop) before you start the day's shooting session ensures a clear view of your subject.
Get a (good) grip
There's no denying the convenience and portability of a smartphone compared to even a compact standalone camera. It's equally true, however, that the small size and light weight of smartphones can actually make them more difficult to hold steady while taking a picture. And a shaky camera equals a blurry photo. The most stable method of holding your smartphone is with two hands, whether you're holding the phone in a horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) format. Just as with a dedicated camera, keep your elbows tucked in towards your body and hold the phone closer to your face rather than extending it at arm's length.
If you take a picture by tapping the screen, you should know that many phones and/or camera apps allow you to designate the volume button as a shutter release, eliminating the possibility of nudging the phone while tapping the onscreen shutter button. The iPhone, shown in the example above, has its volume "+" button along the side of the phone and in both images my left thumb is positioned to use it to take the picture. The size of your phone and your hands may influence your choice of external versus onscreen shutter release. Use whichever feels more comfortable and of course, results in less camera movement.
You may also find that a hard rubber 'bumper'-style case provides a more reassuring grip. And if you have larger hands, a phone case that creates a larger surface area may actually feel more comfortable in hand.
Zoom with your feet
All current native smartphone lenses have a fixed focal length, and it's a relatively wide one, anywhere from about 28mm to 35mm (compared to a full frame camera sensor). Any zoom features on offer are of the digital, rather than optical variety. This means that the image is simply resized, or more specifically, upsampled, after the image is taken to produce a magnified view. Digital zoom always produces a lower quality, less detailed image.
What's more, magnifying your scene elements, whether by optical or digital zoom will actually accentuate the effects of any camera shake. Photographers have always countered this by purposely setting faster shutter speeds when shooting with telephoto lenses; an option you may not have on your phone. So the next time you're tempted to drag your camera's zoom slider, use your feet instead and get closer to your subject. You'll end up with a much clearer and more detailed image as a result.
Shoot in good light
The best hand-holding technique in the world won't help much if your subject is moving during the length of the exposure. Smartphone lenses have a fixed aperture (the size of the lens opening) so one way your camera controls scene brightness is via the shutter speed (the amount of time the sensor receives light). When you shoot in low light, the shutter will stay open longer to allow enough light to produce an image. Unfortunately, this can make it all too easy to record even the slightest movement by your subject. This is known as motion blur.
The other method your camera has at its disposal for handling low light scenes is increasing the ISO setting, in essence making the sensor more sensitive to light. There's no such thing as a free lunch, however, as this increased sensitivity inevitably leads to a nosier, less detailed image.
Use an anti-shake app
There are times, obviously, when you're forced to hold your smartphone in a less than ideal position or shoot in dim light. In those instances, you'll be thankful for having an app with an 'anti-shake' option.
Name aside, 'anti-shake' doesn't actively prevent camera motion. Instead, this feature uses the phone's accelerometer to detect when the camera is still. You press the shutter button as usual, but now the camera will hold off on taking an exposure until it detects no camera movement. In addition, since the shutter is fired after you press the button, you don't run the risk of accidentally nudging the camera with a shutter button press at the time of exposure.
Carry a minipod
Even in the smartphone era, the fundamental principles of photo technique apply. And photographers have always recognized that taking the sharpest possible picture involves using a tripod. Several small, inexpensive and easy to use options exist that are made specifically for smartphones. Joby, maker of the popular GorillaPod, has a range of support options for your smartphone.
The GripTight Micro Stand (US $29.95) is a sleek three-legged tabletop device that supports your phone in both landscape and portrait orientations while providing 36 degrees of tilt in any direction.
The company also offers mounts that allow you to use your smartphone with the very flexible GorillaPod (shown below) or any standard tripod's 1/4 inch screw thread.
The final word
As you can see, getting a sharp picture isn't just random luck, but it doesn't require a Herculean effort either. All it really takes is being conscious of keeping the camera as still as possible. Try one or more of these tips the next time you pull out your camera phone and you'll see sharper results that are well worth the extra bit of effort.
Nov 19, 2015
Nov 19, 2015
Nov 18, 2015
Nov 16, 2015
|Smile by Olymguy|
from Ultra Asian Indian Female Faces
|Space Shuttle Cockpit- by vbuhay|
from Aircraft Control Stick
Tamron has announced the longest all-in-one zoom lens currently available, the 18-400mm F3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD. Designed for Canon and Nikon crop-sensor cameras, the lens will be available in July.
When you're ready to step-up to full-frame from an entry-level or midrange camera, the choices can be overwhelming. Find out which models came out on top in our $1200-2000 enthusiast ILC roundup.
Just a guy wearing a VR headset, smashing invisible Goombas in Central Park.
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured this gorgeous aerial photo of the Martian landscape. And if you look really close, you can actually see the Mars Curiosity rover in the very middle.
The city of Laguna Beach, California has provided some clarification around the kinds of photography permits it offers.
Later this year, a VR180 camera will be Joining Yi's Halo and 360 VR cameras, which will offer stereo 3D capture, yet be as easy to use and compact as a 2D camera.
Caltech researchers have developed an 'optical phased array' chip that uses time delays instead of a lens to focus the incoming light.
Pricing and shipping have finally been revealed for two highly anticipated lenses from Sigma, announced in February.
These macro photos of clouds of paint billowing through clear water might look like high-quality CGI, but they're real photographs. And photographer Alberto Seveso told us how they were made.
Facebook is testing a feature that prevents people from saving, sharing, or even taking a screenshot of your profile picture.
We've reshot the Sony a9 in our studio. The short story: it's sharper! The long story... well you can read it all here.
The collection will be officially launched during the Europeana Transcribathon Campus Berlin 2017 crowdsourcing event which will be held on 22 and 23 June at the Berlin State Library.
Light gives us some insight into the preparations for the launch of the pre-order shipments of its much anticipated L16 multi-lens camera.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei has confirmed in a tweet that the second lens on the back of the OnePlus 5 uses a 1.6x optical zoom and that digital zoom is used to reach the claimed 2x zoom factor.
Fujifilm recently unveiled the second in its series of affordable cine lenses, the MK50-135mm T2.9. We got our hands on it for a couple days and took it for a spin.
Leica's first attempt at an M-series digital rangefinder was rough around the edges, but set a pattern for all of the cameras that came after it. In this week's Throwback Thursday article, Barney remembers the M8.
No stranger to extreme situations, legendary climber and filmmaker Jimmy Chin talks to Outside Magazine about his career, and the challenge of filming Alex Honnold's rope-free solo climb of El Capitain.
A company backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin is attempting to make video conferencing less terrible.
Rangefinder magazine asked five professional portrait and wedding photographers about posting on Instagram; no surprise, they got five different answers.
This captivating stop motion film was created by stripping away one layer of wood at a time. It's hard to look away.
It will enable users to simulate the presence of the sun, moon and Milky Way and see how they interact with an area's topography.
Since its introduction in November last year Instagram's live streaming feature has been used by millions, but videos could not be archived for watching at a later stage. A new update has now added the capability.
CopyTrack's study also found that the second most-stolen image is a woman wearing painted jeans. That's apparently a thing.
Forget expensive lenses with fancy coatings and special lens elements – photographer Robin de Puy took these portraits using just a water drop for a lens.
Adobe reports a record quarterly revenue of $1.77 billion for the second quarter fiscal year 2017 ended June 2, 2017.
Zeiss says its new lens is particularly suited for portrait photography but also a good all-rounder and can be used in video applications.
We present to you the top photos from the Kennel Club's 2017 Dog Photographer of the Year photo contest – take a look at 10 of the award-winning puppers.
In case you were looking for any more inspiration to go fly one.
Following a couple of successful Kickstarter campaigns, Videre 35mm's creator has re-tooled the camera with sturdier components and a simpler user assembly process.
The two hour long video covers everything an aspiring drone pilot needs to know.