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Mastering Mobile Photography

We all love taking pictures to capture the moment and create memories, and it’s never been so easy to do it thanks to our mobile phone that accompanies us wherever we go. As technology is evolving, phone companies are putting more effort into their mobile cameras as its becoming in case of many of us the main shooter we use. Even in the case of professional photographers many are using their phone for daily fast picture capturing especially after android has introduced manual camera settings in their Android 5.1 update.

So for you out there who like to do it better here are some tips and tricks you can rely on.

First let’s start with some basics. Taking a good image is mostly about Focus, Composition, Exposure and some after effect editing.

Always make sure your subject is in sharp focus. You can achieve so by touching your screen where your subject is in frame and your phone will focus.

Little girl against colorful Autumn tree

Little girl against colorful Autumn tree (Focused subject)


Clean your lens well before starting to take pictures with a soft cloth to make sure no fingerprints or dust is ruining your image.


Captured with a dirty lens


Exposure is simply how bright or dark your picture looks, automatic exposure isn’t always ideal. You can always lower or higher your camera’s exposure from the settings to get the perfect brightness for the scene.

Underexposed - Well exposed - Overexposed

Underexposed – Well exposed – Overexposed


Composition is as important as focus and exposure. A good composed image will appeal to viewers much more than a randomly shot image. Best practice in most condition is to abide to the rule of third. The rule of third is widely the most used composition rule, it’s about two horizontal and two vertical lines grid that you could visualize on your mobile by enabling the grid from your settings. Contrary to what most of us think, our subject shouldn’t be placed in the middle of the image, try to position you subject along the grid lines or at the points where they meet.

Rule Of Third

Rule Of Third


Other composition tips like placing your subject in the front layer of the picture, using natural surroundings to frame your photo, experiencing with the depth of field are all good practices too.

What if you want to capture a far subject? DON’T YOU EVER ZOOM with your mobile phone. Mobile phones use digital zooming and not optical zoom. Digital zooming crops your image and renders your image in a very pixelated way. A better practice is to get closer to your subject or crop the image after taking your shot at a normal camera zoom. This gives you more control on how much of your image gets cropped.


Zooming Effect


What about low-light conditions? In most cases, avoid using direct flash on your subject as it will look over-exposed. Try to look for any other source of light like street lights, neo glows in a bar, spotlights in concerts, etc. Just be creative!

Flash Effect

Flash Effect


But after all, in your worst case scenario, a picture with a flash light is better than no picture at all.

Try to keep your camera steady to avoid blurry images, especially in low-light conditions. Hold your phone with both hands while shooting, set a 3 seconds timer for your image, so the picture is not captured directly when you touch your screen. A good practice also is to use a mobile tripod.

Flexible Mobile Tripod

Flexible Mobile Tripod


Last but not least, do some editing after you capture your image to get the perfect toning, contrast and exposure. Try to avoid preset filters as they usually over-process your images.


Your skills are not the only factors that affect your mobile images, some part of it is affected by the camera app you are using to capture your photos.

Here are the best camera apps to be used on Android:

  • Camera FV-5 (Free/ $3.95): It’s mostly known for its manual camera features and its support for RAW image format.


  • Camera MX (Free): It has a bunch of features such as live shot, scene modes and many others, it includes image editing tools also.


  • Camera Zoom FX (Free/ $0.99): It supports manual controls, in addition to HDR, time lapse and 360 degrees images.


  • DSLR Camera Pro ($2.99): This one is for pro users that likes to do it all manually, it tries to emulate a DSLR camera environment and features.


  • Manual Camera ($2.99): This application take full advantage of the camera2 API android introduced in their lollipop version. It has a very simple interface that lets you control all your camera’s settings. It also supports RAW image format.


  • VSCO (Free): What’s special about this app other than its preset settings profiles is that it has a sort of social network where you can connect and browse other people’s photographs and share yours.


  • Camera 360 (Free): This app has it all in one place, it includes a built-in image editor, social network and preset settings and effects to get you creative.


You can make your experience even better by getting some cool mobile gadgets like lenses, flexible tripods, monopods and selfi-sticks, remote shutters and many others.


In conclusion, phones are somehow far from reaching the professionalism of DSLR cameras, but as technology is evolving, will we ever reach that point where our mobile phones will replace DSLRs?


By Jean El Khoury.