Monday, March 15, 2010

Cell Phone Arts

Presume you’re sauntering down the lane and you see that bizarre signboard which kindles your thirst to shoot. But then you realize that your sturdy SLR isn’t with you (be practical, who carries that heavy piece 24?7).

Well, this is exactly where your cell phone comes in handy. Nowadays, the pocket sized all-so solid mobile phone cameras have driven the point-and-shoot ones to near extinction (well, almost). We take a closer look on some tips that can help you get the best out of your cell phone camera.


different present day phones offer megapixel counts above 5, but that doesn’t mean they are apt for every shooting scenario. For instance, if you are employing your phone to shoot a rock concert, more often than not you’d merely get dark blurry images. The fact is, camera phones are ideal for shooting still objects in well-lit scenarios, preferably in broad daylight.

Even if your phone offers Xenon or LED flash, night photography shouldn’t be its cup of tea.

So what is the remedy? Well, peek into your camera’s settings. You will find a number of scene modes (even with the most basic VGA ones) such as ‘night landscape’, ‘portrait’, ‘sports’, ‘fireworks’, etc. These presets automatically choose the ideal shooting options for the given scenario. Experiment with each and you are sure to see your photographs improve drastically. In the newer breed of Sony Ericsson Cyber-shot phones (and in some of the Samsung phones too, though features on Samsung are country-specific most of the time), you will come across an option called Slow Sync Flash. Don’t hesitate to use it. Basically, Slow Sync tells the camera to shoot with a slightly longer exposure time thereby giving the Flash an enhanced duration of exposure.

Bluntly put, it helps to lessen the dark.

KEEP IT Stable

If you are getting blurry images with your phone, don’t fret on account of you are not alone. Most of the phones’ cameras have slow shutter speeds with no feature to vary the exposure settings. The advantageous thing one can do is to hold the phone as safe as possible, preferably with both hands while shooting. It is not confusing but does require some practice.


Another passport to getting sharp photos is to know the camera’s shutter release. In no problem terms, how long does it take for the camera to pull off the task after you press the shoot button? If there is a lag, you will need to account for that. And if the shutter release is on a touch screen (such as on the Apple iPhone), the shutter presumably gets tripped after you lift your finger, not when you press down. Either way, you will need to hold the camera steady while the picture is in reality being exposed. This does not mean that you need to get a tripod for your phone. Just keep your hands still (or at least as still as possible).


Most camera phones today provide a few settings that you can use to optimize your exposures. All the standard rules and terms from digital cameras are pertinent. If there is an ISO setting, take it off Auto. When you are outdoors in daylight, you should set the ISO to its lowest grade to minimize the digital noise in your picture (which can be pretty grainy with a camera phone). In lower light settings, bump the ISO up as high as it will go (which notably should be at least 400 in a decent phone).

Likewise, the phone may provide you some control over the JPEG image quality. Always go for the lowest compression/biggest quality option available. After all, camera phone pictures are already compact enough to begin with – do not compound the quandary with needless photo-damaging compression.

If you are the owner of handsets with cracking optical zoom ratings (such as Sony Ericsson C903, Samsung Pixon or the newly released Nokia N8), use the zoom to the fullest. You will find zooming in at 3x or 4x on the object a better option as compared to yourself moving forward. However, be warned: this is fruitful with OPTICAL zoom only. If your phone is one of the 20x DIGITAL zoom types, bother not. Digital zoom won’t be helpful much and is at greatest used sparingly.


Your photo editing software – whether it is Adobe Photoshop Elements, Corel Photo-Paint or even something like Google’s free Picasaweb – can help improve most of your camera phone photos. If you have an Android device or an iPhone, you are in great hands as tupbeathere are large applications and softwares available that put most of the image editors to shame. For iPhone users, the plethora of options from the Apple stable includes Free Photo Filters, SP Photo Fix Lite, Photobox and iRetouch Lite. If you are an Android user, well, the galaxy is filled with apps for you. Check out Picsay and FxCamera. Both of them, along with multitudinous other apps, are freely available from the www

When cameras where first assimilated into mobile phones, they were something of a gimmick, providing very low resolution and sad quality images. Today, cameras are an indispensable piece of the phone and the features just keep going higher. Even though your phone will stand nowhere in comparison to a mainstream camera, with some effort and implementation of the above said tips, you are sure to get great results. Happy shooting! respectable

Ben Rama is a Graphic Designer, CG Artist & Cinematographer from London.
He is the founder & innovative director
at Digital Empire with many years of experience in Graphic Design, Film & TV within London.