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Five Tips For Better Cell Phone Pictures

Razvan Costache used his cell phone camera to grab this amazing shot in a subway station in Bucharest, Romania

The statistics on Flickr and other image sharing sites are clear that the most popular camera out there is the iPhone 4. In some ways it was inevitable that cell phones would start dominating the point and shoot market. Never underestimate the market power of convenience. While cell phone cameras may not offer the best quality, they offer the most convenience and quality that is good enough and improving with each new generation.

Since we’re all carrying cell phones anyway, might as well make the best of it. Here are some tips for getting the most out your cell phone camera.

cell phone picture
A strong foreground point of interest keeps this photo from being lost in an expanse of water

Strong Point of Interest

A cell phone is basically a point and shoot camera with a fixed, wide angle lens. So apply the same guidelines for composition as any wide angle shot. For most cell phone cameras the best results start with a strong foreground subject and directional lighting.

Zoom With Your Feet

Even though some cell phones have digital zoom capabilities, I wouldn’t recommend it. Digital zooms have a tendency to introduce some strange artifacts to the image. The best zoom, the one you can always count on, are your feet.

Adjust the composition by moving to the spot with the best frame.

Take Lots of Shots

As I’ve mentioned before when National Geographic photographers are on assignment they can take anywhere from 350 to 1,000 photos a day, which adds up to 20,000 to 60,000 on an assignment. The 10 or 12 you see in the magazine represent the best of a huge number of photos.

Use the same principle in your own photography. Take lots of pictures. Get down low, find a high angle, try a Dutch Tilt, move around a little and shoot different angles. Shoot them all and sort it all out later in post.

Use The Highest Resolution

Cell phones frequently default to photo sizes smaller than they are capable of taking. Make sure you’re shooting at the maximum resolution. You want photos as large as the camera can produce.

Steady There

cell phone 3
Strong directional lighting in another opportunity for cell phone cameras - by ronnie44052 via Flickr

The big challenge with cell phones is taking the shot and holding still. There’s a tendency to torque the camera pushing the shutter button yielding a blurry photo. Sometimes there’s a lag between the button push and the camera actually capturing the photo, so practice steady hands and holding still until you’re certain you have the shot.

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