Your smartphone camera is set to automatic shooting mode by default. In this mode, your phone camera will automatically adjust the settings according to the light levels. However, your smartphone doesn’t always get it right! In these situations, you’ll capture a better shot if you switch to manual mode and take control of the lighting and set-up yourself. Read on to discover how to set your phone camera manually to get the best photos.
You need to switch to professional mode if you want to adjust the camera settings yourself. To do this with an Android phone, select camera, and choose the “Professional Mode” function. Bear in mind that this may have a slightly different name, such as “Manual Camera”, depending on your brand of phone.
If you have an iPhone, this step is not as simple. Apple does not allow you to modify the default camera settings. To manually set your iPhone camera, you’ll need to download a dedicated application such as VSCO from the App Store. With this on your phone, you will then be able to set your own parameters and modes.
1. Exposure time. Shutter speed is measured in seconds, for example, 1/1000, 1/500 and 1/250. Decreasing the shutter speed from 1/1000 to 1/500 will increase the amount of light that falls on the centre. You might want to decrease the shutter speed and extend exposure time if your original photo is too dark. Be aware that increasing exposure time can also make your photo blurry because it allows more time to capture the natural movement of your hand. You can reduce blur by using a monopod with tripod.
2. ISO. ISO is a setting that can brighten or darken your photo. It expresses the sensitivity of your camera’s sensor to light. The value of this parameter typically ranges from 50 to 3200. A higher ISO is better in low lighting conditions, such as a cloudy day or if you want to take pictures inside. A lower ISO is best when taking photos in the sun.
3. White balance. The white balance determines the colour temperature. This parameter is measured in Kelvin. On smartphones, these selections are normally expressed in terms of environmental conditions. For example, daylight is 5300-5700K, cloudy is 6400-6600 K, incandescent light is 2600-2800K and fluorescent light is 3900-4100K.
4. Flash. Improve photo quality in poor lighting conditions with a flash or other source of additional light, such as a LED lamp for a phone.
5. Digital zoom. You’ll reduce photo quality if you use your digital zoom function. If you want to take a close up picture, get closer to the object or buy an additional lens. Find out more in our blog How to take macro photos on a phone.
6. Cropping. When you’re composing your image you can use a grid line to define the horizon and position your subject correctly. When you’re framing, try to make sure there are no strong points (important objects such as faces) at the intersection of lines.
7. Clean the lens. The final secret to taking the best photos on your phone is to make sure your lens is clean! Oily fingerprints and bits of fluff can make images look poor. Wipe the lens safely using a special cloth designed for cleaning screens or glasses.