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December 16, 2004

Camera Phone Tips - Taking Great Photos with your Camera Phone

137729 2883As Camera Phones are becoming more and more popular the internet is being flooded with pictures from the every day life of millions of camera phone users. Unfortunately many of the images that are taken using camera phones are poor in quality. This is partly due to the fact that camera phone technology is still developing and that their features are often limited (although this is changing with the release of phones with improved features) but it is also often due to poor photographic technique by budding camera phone photographers. As a result we've compiled this list of camera phone tips and techniques to help us get the best results from our camera phones. They are not rocket science and will not guarantee crystal clear pictures like those you'd get from a Digital SLR - but they could drastically improve the shots your Camera Phone produces.

To get the best shot from your camera phone you might like to incorporate some of the following tips into your routine:

  • Use the highest resolution possible on your camera phone - It goes without saying really (but we like to state the bleeding obvious) that the higher your resolution the clearer your shot will be. This is especially true for camera phones which often have sensors of under 1 megapixel in them. NB: The highest resolution increases the file size and therefore the time needed to send photos.
  • Edit images later - Whilst it can be fun to use your camera phone's inbuilt editing and effects, I find that editing pictures later on your computer produces much better quality images. Take your shots in color at high resolution to keep your options open on how to treat it later. You can always make it black and white later, but you can't make it color if you take it in Black and White mode. Also remember that your phone's screen will never be as good as your computer's. So if possible hang onto your shots until you can get them on your PC. You might just find that they come alive on a quality monitor.
  • Well lit subjects - The better lit your subject is the clearer your image is likely to be. If possible shoot outside or turn on lights when shooting inside. Be aware that different lights impact the color in your images differently. Experiment with White Balance to rectify this (see below)
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  • Get Close - One of the most common mistakes with camera phone images is that their subject ends up being a tiny, unrecognizable object in the distance. Camera phone images tend to be smallish due to low resolution - so fill up your view finder with your subject to save having to zoom in on the subject in editing it later (which decreases quality even more). Having said this, getting too close on some model camera phones creates distorition of either fisheye effect or lack of focus due to poor macro ability.
  • Don't use your digital Zoom - As tempting as it might be to zoom in on your subject when taking your picture (if you have a zoom feature on your camera phone), it actually will decrease the quality of your shot to use your digital zoom. Plus you can always edit your shot later using photo editing software on your computer.
  • Keep it Still - As with all photography, the more steady your phone is when taking your shot the clearer your image will be. This is especially important in low light situations. I always try to lean my camera phone/hand against a solid object (like a tree, wall, ledge) when taking shots.
  • Experiment with White Balance - an increasing number of camera phones come with adjustable white balance which allows you to modify color balance in your images based on shooting conditions. Experiment with this feature to get a good feel for the impact that it has on your shots. I find that it impacts different camera phones differently.
  • Take loads of Shots and Experiment - The beauty of all forms of digital photography (including that of camera phones) is the ability to shoot off many shots quickly and without cost. This means you can experiment with different modes and composition and discard those that you don't want to keep.
  • Follow Rules of Composition and then Break them - learn some basic composition 'rules'. (ie the rule of thirds - ie don't place your subject squarely in the middle of your frame but a third of the way in). Simple tips like this can life your photos. But then also remember that the beauty of a camera phone is its ability to break all conventions - some of the best shots around break all the rules. So shoot from the hip, the floor, up high, up close - anything goes.

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Following are some of the better sites and books that we found that have camera phone tips on them:

Add your own tips, tricks and camera phone resources below in comments.

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Posted by Darren at December 16, 2004 11:28 AM