When the first camera phones we released by Sharp and Kyocera in 1997 image quality was really very poor. The photos were really shared with friends and family who could receive images on their phones, the emphasis was picture messaging and not photography. Quality was never a priority for manufacturers or users, mostly because memory was always an issue.
Over the years photo quality has improved considerably with the use of better lenses, improved processing and larger memory cards. By 2003 camera phones became the most popular type of camera sold and in 2005 Nokia became the world’s largest digital camera brand. Possibly the best camera phone to date is the [easyazon-link asin=”B003ZX7RL4″ locale=”us”]Nokia N8 smartphone[/easyazon-link] which has a Carl Zeiss lens, a Zenon flash and a sensor to process 12 megapixel images.
There are now over a billion camera phones worldwide and most phones are now come with a camera built in. The development of the camera phone has revolutionized photography. Now more people than ever before take photos. Photography used to be restricted to vacations and special occasions but now just about everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times.
Although there are over a billion camera phones most photos still remain unseen though. Advancements in wireless Internet and social media has led to increasing numbers of photos being shared by friends in Facebook, Twitter and Picasaweb, but many photos are taken and then never shared.
One reason why this happens is simply because the quality of the photos that many people take is still quite poor. Having a camera available at all times does not automatically make you a better photographer. Plus many camera phones still have photographic limitations. These issues generally result in poor quality images being taken. The photos often capture a moment well and look nice on a small LCD screen, some even upload to social media with reasonable results too. But as soon as you try to print the faults can be seen.
However, there are ways you can quickly and easily improve your photography. Really the key to taking printable photographs with a camera phone is to ensure that images sharp and in focus.
1. Reduce Image Blur
Due to the limitations of lenses phone cameras struggle in low light conditions. To compensate the lack of light the shutter speed has to be decreased and this causes blurry images. Although some phones now come with a flash, most do not as flashes tend to drain the battery far too quickly to be really useful.
There are really only two ways to reduce image blur in low light conditions. One is to adopt a steadier grip which can be achieved by holding the phone in both hands with your elbows tucked in close to your body. Stand with a solid stance and the gentle press the button and do not move until the image has been captured. This is how traditional photographers have coped with slow shutter speeds in the past.
The other way is to find a solid surface to take the photo on. By holding your phone on a table or wall and then pressing the button you can great reduce image shake.
I took the photo above by resting the phone on the wall on the river embankment. Although this is still by no means a perfect photo it is not bad from a camera phone and captures a evening by the river in Zurich nicely.
2. Anticipate Camera Lag
Another common problem which can cause blurring of people and mis-timed shots is camera lag. Most mobile phone cameras do not capture the image immediately and this is especially true in low light conditions. It is caused by slow focusing, which is the result of slower processing in the chipset. Modern digital SLR’s (the big professional cameras) take photos instantaneously, but the software and lenses in a camera phone are not capable of this.[easyazon-image align=”right” asin=”B004J3V90Y” locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51jGuISLz8L._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]
To overcome lag you really just need to anticipate it. If you are photographing people ask them to keep still and hold a pose in low light conditions (which is anything other than a bright, sunny day for some phones). If the light is good but your subject is moving, track them with the camera while pressing the button. This should ensure that they remain in shot when the image is finally captured.
3. Check the Camera Settings
It is always better to take the largest image possible. If you keep running out of space on your phone invest in a larger memory card and get into the habit of transferring photos to your computer.
For example, on the Android phones you can chose to store photos as 1Mb, 2Mb or 3Mb. 1Mb images are perfectly good for sharing on computer, but if you wish to print you need to store at 3Mb to get sharper printed images. Also picture quality can be set, from Normal to Super Fine. Normal should only be used for faster MMS sharing, the rest of the time take photos as Super Fine. Always put all your settings on maximum for the best results.
4. Know where the Lens Is!
This rule is really for all cameras. Many otherwise good images are ruined because of a stray finger over the lens. Even in camera phones which display the image in the screen sometime you may not notice your finger obscuring the edge of the image.
5. Do not be tempted to download photo editing software for your phone
You can now install photo editing software for some smartphones. However, processing your photos on your phone never produces such good results as using PC based software. If you wish to print your images for future prosperity then ensure that they photo taken on the camera of the the highest possible quality.
The real key to taking good photos is to practice. Take a lot of photos and examine the results on a computer. Print out the best photos that you feel are worth keeping. As you learn more about your camera phone you will learn how to deal with its limitations and how to get the best possible shots from it.
This really applies to all types of camera. Should you ever invest in a [easyazon-link asin=”B004VN920G” locale=”us”]digital SLR[/easyazon-link] to take your photography to the next level you will still need to spend time getting comfortable with your camera before you do any serious photography.
Gary Dean started photography during the dark room era, learning how to process black and white film. He was at first apprehensive about the digital era but now loves it and uses his smart phone for snaps, but won’t be without his digital SLR for those more artistic photos. He still loves printing photos and is involved in a service which provides free photo printing deals and opportunities.