hard core

8 tips for better Smartphone photographs

Taken with an iPhone 4

Forgive me for stating the obvious: You get much better photos with a camera than without one. So, whilst I would much rather always be taking photos with SLR body with a sharp Prime lens, the truth of the matter is that you'll sometimes come across moments where you're just bursting to take a photo - and you may not have a 'real' camera handy.

If you're a hard-core photographer, you'll probably have a reasonably recent smart-phone. Great news: The phone comes with a surprisingly capable camera built-in.

It's not without limitations, of course, but here's eight tips to get the most out of your mobile phone snaps...

1) Clean your lens

Mobile phones are usually subjected to all sorts of abuse. Mine lives in my hand and my pocket; neither of which is the greatest environment for a clean lens.

Fingerprints, grease, or pocket fluff are the #1 reason for rubbish smart-phone photos, so check it, and clean it before shooting!

2) Shine a light

Modern mobile phones often come with impressive ISO ranges so you can take photos even in low light; but that doesn't mean you should: The small sensor size introduces a lot of noise, which isn't very nice, and certainly isn't conducive to awesome snaps.

Turn up the lights in the room, or go outside in daylight for the best photos.

3) Rez it up

If your camera has several settings, use 'em! As a general rule, the higher the resolution of your mobile camera, the clearer your photographs will be.

Bear in mind, though, that the higher the resolution of your photo, the larger its file size will be, so if you're e-mailing them, try to make them smaller before you kill your grandma's 28.8 kbit/s modem.

4) Nix the digi-zoom

Using digital zoom to zero in on your subject is fun if you want to use your mobile phone instead of binoculars, but it ain't much good if you're wanting to take photos. For photography, keep it zoomed all the way out, and crop the images later instead.

5) Steady now

When taking photographs, the more steady your camera is, the clearer your picture will be. Simples. If you can, lean your elbows on a sturdy surface, or place the phone against a lamp-post or similar for extra crispness.

6) Don't lose your (white) balance

If your mobile phone has the option of adjusting the camera using white balance, go ahead and experiment how the different settings impact on your photographs.

7) Get closer. No, even closer

To avoid having to zoom in or crop your shots later, ensure that your subject fills your viewfinder.

8) Sprinkle some editing magic

Even though your phone may have built-in editing features out of the box, consider editing them with a separate app instead.

For the iPhone, my favourite editing apps are Snapseed and Photoshop Express - Try 'em out, and use the filters and editing tools to add a bit of sizzle.

Got that? Great. Now go snap some photos you're proud of. Oh, and post them in the comments, I'd love to see what you guys come up with!