This is a secret: You do not want an costly digicam to get nice pictures. Positive, it may assist, and there are some pictures solely a “real” camera can take. Nevertheless, you is perhaps shocked at how good your pictures will be simply using your phone or an affordable digicam. Studying the following pointers and methods will show you how to should you ever improve to an enormous digicam too.

CNET Tech Tips logo

Who am I to provide this recommendation? I am a journey author and photographer, with over 150 photo galleries here on CNET taken all around the world. I’ve an costly digicam, certain, however I additionally use my telephone greater than you’d count on. 

There’s an overused, however nonetheless true, adage: The very best digicam is the one you will have with you. So if you may get pictures you want with out spending cash on a digicam you may solely use a couple of times a yr, even higher.

Whereas every telephone is barely completely different in its {hardware} and digicam app, I’ve saved the next suggestions normal sufficient that they need to work on nearly each machine. Dearer telephones can usually take larger high quality photos than cheaper phones, however it’s best to have the ability to get nice outcomes it doesn’t matter what you will have. Additionally, should you’re confused by any of the terminology, there is a glossary of some often-used digicam phrases on the backside.

For extra, this is how you can take great vacation videos with your phone camera and a few tips for getting great shots even if your phone is old. Plus, listed below are the seven things you should always pack once you journey and what journey veterans advocate before leaving on vacation.

1. Clear the lens

Fingerprint smudges on a smartphone.

Does your telephone display appear to be this? I guess the digicam does too. Few issues can enhance the standard of your pictures greater than a clear digicam lens.

Serhii Shleihel/GettyImages

I am unable to stress sufficient how vital that is. Nicely, I assume I can stress it since I am placing it first. I am amazed how usually I see washed out and smudged photos which might be the results of fingerprints or different schmutz on the digicam lens. Simply cleansing your lens will enhance the standard of your photos most likely greater than some other tip. 

How usually? I actually test my digicam lens earlier than each group of pictures. Essential ones, anyway. Telephone comes out of my pocket, I test the digicam lens. 

Ideally, you may use a microfiber cloth, the identical kind that comes with glasses/sun shades. If not, even a comfortable shirt can be high quality. Nothing tough or coarse. 

In case you have an actual digicam, all the time (all the time all the time all the time) use a lens cap. I get such nervousness after I see folks pull a digicam from a bag, or have it dangling round their neck, and there is no lens cap. Scratches are even worse than smudges since they completely lower the picture high quality doable with the lens. Lenses are the eyeballs of your digicam. Deal with them as such. 

Should you’re nervous about shedding your lens cap, or hate juggling it whilst you’re dealing with your digicam, check out cheap lens cap straps. They’re nice.

2. Faucet the display

A photo of the camera app on a Google Pixel at sunset.

The digicam app on a Google Pixel


This all the time appeared apparent to me, however I’ve often precipitated “ah-ha!” moments giving this recommendation. When lining up your shot, if it does not look proper, faucet the display. Most telephones are fairly good at determining what you are making an attempt to {photograph}, however not all the time. Tapping in your topic, an individual, animal, factor, no matter, and modifications the main focus and publicity.

This is an instance. Say you wish to take a photograph of your companion on the seaside at sundown. Three stunning issues in a single picture: companion, setting solar, ocean. The seaside too I suppose until you don’t like sand. That is referred to as a backlit picture, and it is extraordinarily arduous to do. Most frequently, your companion can be underexposed (see the terminology part beneath), as in they will look darkish/shadowed. 

With most telephone and digicam apps, you may inform the digicam the place to show the picture. On this case, in your companion. The solar will then be overexposed (blown out), however you may nonetheless get the thought it is a sundown and you can see your companion, which is usually the purpose, proper? In case your telephone is ready to take HDR photos, this picture will look higher than if it may’t. 

There may be some enhancing you are able to do to make a photograph like this look higher, however that may solely go up to now. We’ll get to enhancing somewhat later. 

3. Do not use the flash

A man taking a photo with his camera and flash.

Should you’re this near your topic, certain, attempt the flash. Most telephones and cameras have respectable low-light capabilities, so the picture may look higher with the flash turned off. It is price checking.

Jenner Photographs/Getty Photographs

There is not any such factor as an excellent digicam flash on a telephone. They’re all horrible. Even the massive add-on flashes for full-size cameras solely work in sure conditions. Consider it or not, most often you may get a greater picture turning the flash off utterly. Not 100% of the time, nevertheless, so it is price making an attempt each choices. 

That is very true should you’re utilizing a full-size digicam with built-in flash. In each scenic place I’ve ever been there’s a minimum of one individual making an attempt to take a panorama picture and their flash fires. Flashes, even the most effective, solely work inside just a few ft of the topic. Not solely will they do nothing for landscapes, they will wear down your battery faster at greatest, and mess with the publicity at worst. 

You’ll be able to flip off the flash in your digicam app’s settings. Extra on that beneath.

There may be such a factor as a Slow Sync Flash photography that may be nice when making an attempt to {photograph} folks in entrance of a twilight or night time panorama. I might classify this as a bit extra superior, however with a little bit of apply the outcomes will be nice!

4. Get a selfie stick

Grandparents getting ready to skydive taking a selfie with a selfie stick.

Grandma’s gonna discover that reindeer and enact revenge.

Geber86/Getty Photographs

Selfie sticks are good. I’ve apishly lengthy arms and I nonetheless have one, although I sometimes use it for my 360 camera. My 80-year-old dad has one. They’re nice. Individuals ought to take extra pictures of themselves, of their household and pals, every thing. I truthfully do not get the hate. Images are nice! Protect no matter reminiscences you may. Future you’ll thanks. 

To place it extra pragmatically, a selfie stick will allow you to get a wider area of view of your self, the folks you are with, and the place you might be. It simply makes for a greater picture. 

If you’re utilizing them, definitely be cautious of your speedy environment and the folks close to you. Some areas, particularly crowded or harmful ones, have a tendency to limit selfie stick utilization. Maintain a watch out for signage.

5. Get a greater angle

A picture of a sleepy pug in the sun.

That is Smeagol and he’s a Very Good Boy.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Most individuals simply carry the telephone or digicam as much as eye degree and take the picture. Generally that is high quality, however you may usually get much better outcomes with a distinct angle. Attempt holding the digicam above your head and intention down. Photographing folks from beneath tends to be somewhat unflattering, however barely above usually appears to be like nice. Should you’re taking an image of a child or animal, get right down to their degree. A canine’s-eye-view of a canine is sort of all the time a extra fascinating picture than a human’s-eye-view of a canine. 

That is a facet the place a selfie stick helps. Prolong it out and you can simply body that epic picture of you and the fam on the Grand Canyon the place you may see you, the fam, and the Grand Canyon as an alternative of you, components of the fam, and a sliver of the Grand Canyon.

6. Be taught your app’s settings and modes

The different menus and screens of the iPhone's camera app.

Altering the default settings in your telephone’s digicam app can have massive outcomes.


Practically each telephone’s digicam app is able to quite a lot of completely different picture kinds. I am all the time shocked to see how many individuals don’t know. Portrait mode, landscape mode and night mode all allow you to take vastly extra fascinating pictures than the essential mode, all with only a few faucets on the display. Verify them out, see what they do. 

So far as settings go, usually the inventory ones ought to be high quality. It is price checking to verify it is taking the highest-resolution it may and that the flash is turned off (see No. 3). Some apps allow you to shoot RAW, extra information on that within the phrases part beneath.

I might additionally advocate enabling handbook controls, if obtainable. They will simply take a couple of minutes to study and they need to show you how to get the picture you need when, like described in No. 2, the digicam itself is struggling to take action.

Enjoyable reality: Many digicam apps have the choice to make use of one of many telephone’s buttons because the shutter. If it is too arduous so that you can faucet the display whereas holding the telephone, maybe utilizing the quantity button as an alternative can be simpler. There are additionally timer features that offer you a countdown of some seconds to get your pose and folks prepared.

Learn extra: How to Use the iPhone’s ProRaw Mode to Make Your Photos Look Better Than Before

7. Enhancing

Word the completely different enhancing prospects biking by way of on the correct.


Practically each nice digital picture you have ever seen has gone by way of some quantity of enhancing. Colloquially that is referred to as “Photoshopping” however you needn’t pay Adobe for a subscription to that particular program. Actually, there are quite a lot of free choices. Your telephone might need some inbuilt to its gallery already. Instagram has some nice changes too. Past these, take a look at CNET’s best free and paid photo editing apps for iPhone and Android.

The simplest solution to study is to simply choose a photograph and see what all of the choices do. Visually, will probably be fairly apparent what issues like distinction, brightness, and so forth truly do. Most of them do the same thing on your TV, should you’re . 

Slight tweaks to distinction, brightness, and colour will do wonders for any picture. You’ll be able to “slap a filter on it,” certain, however beginning with a greater base picture will often make it look higher after you apply a filter too.

Bonus! Cloud backup

Apple iCloud icon on a smartphone


Whereas not a digicam tip per se, I very strongly advocate getting some kind of cloud backup in your pictures. Built-in along with your telephone which means everytime you’re on Wi-Fi all of your pictures will get backed as much as the cloud. With an actual digicam you may obtain them to the digicam’s telephone app, and often they will get despatched to the cloud from there. Generally, like with GoPro, there’s an additional step required to avoid wasting them to your telephone’s gallery.

With a cloud backup should you lose your telephone or digicam, you will not lose your pictures. This saved me in an enormous means after I received robbed on an in a single day prepare in Italy, and one other time when a tough drive crashed on me. 

Additionally, always remember, there are solely two kinds of arduous drives: Those who have failed, and people that can fail.

Take a look at our six ways to keep your photos safe in case of an emergency and best cloud storage services for 2022.

When to improve

As you get to know your telephone’s digicam, you may begin to discover its limitations. A restricted zoom goes to be the obvious, adopted by noise within the picture, an absence of settings, and so forth. A few of you’ll begin wanting extra. It is a logical development, one I bounded by way of myself, from cheap choices to increasingly more costly choices. It is a dear interest, to make certain. Buying used can help.

I like to recommend testing my Best Camera for Summer Travel article as a subsequent step. It is aimed in direction of trip/journey choices, however ought to offer you an concept what’s on the market and what the improve steps appear to be.

Phrases and phrases and stuff

You will discover these phrases when studying about precise cameras, in addition to about telephone cameras and inside apps.

Huge angle: A sort of lens that sometimes captures greater than what you’d see along with your eyes in a single look. The entire forest as an alternative of a single tree, so to talk.

The Root Glacier between the mountains in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.

A large angle picture, taken with my telephone, of the Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias Nationwide Park. Word the tiny folks within the decrease left.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

Telephoto: The tree, not the forest. Telephoto lenses allow you to seize photos the place you appear proper up near a topic however have been truly distant.

Hikers make their way across a glacier.

Standing in the identical place because the above picture, however with a 135mm telephoto lens on a Canon R6. These are the identical hikers, a couple of minutes earlier, as they made their means throughout the glacier. Word how a lot nearer they appear.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

SLR/DSLR: Single Lens Reflex/Digital Single Lens Reflex. Traditionally the “massive, actual digicam.” Often a shorthand for a digicam the place you may change the lenses. Progressively being changed, even amongst costly cameras, with mirrorless variations.

Mirrorless: Missing the shifting mirror present in all SLR/DSLR cameras. What this implies for you is the cameras are barely smaller and lighter. Provided in all kinds of costs. On the high finish they’re changing skilled DSLRs. 

35mm equal: Refers to 35 millimeter movie, the outdated normal, as a solution to describe how broad, or telephoto, a lens is. For instance, a 35mm-equivalent 12mm lens is broad, a 100mm lens is telephoto. Used as a relative reference for the reason that precise focal size will range relying on the scale of the picture sensor. 

Optical zoom: That is the one actual zoom. Makes use of glass or plastic lenses to make a topic seem nearer. 

Digital zoom: Greatest to consider this as “faux” zoom. It merely crops the picture, after which upconverts it. Would not make the topic extra detailed, simply bigger. OK if there is no different choice, however the picture high quality is vastly inferior to optical zoom.

Underexposed: A topic or picture that is darker than desired.

Overexposed: A topic or picture that is brighter than desired.

RAW: A picture format that is simply very frivolously processed knowledge from the picture sensor. On the skilled degree, RAW information are used nearly completely as there may be extra vary obtainable to edit. Nevertheless, you have to be educated with picture enhancing and have an app/software program that may edit your digicam/telephone’s RAW information. Not for novices.

In addition to masking TV and different show tech, Geoff does picture excursions of cool museums and locations around the world, together with nuclear submarinesmassive aircraft carriersmedieval castles, epic 10,000-mile road trips, and extra. Take a look at Tech Treks for all his excursions and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines, together with a sequel. You’ll be able to comply with his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.

Source link