Sunday, January 2, 2011

Taking Better Mobile Photos

Taking a perfect mobile picture isn't something that most of us think of, which usually leads us to producing horrible, blurry shots and complaining to friends when it's hard to view whatever was supposed to be in there. I've thought of some tips that I've either read, or just developed myself in order to get better looking photos to share on Facebook & Twitter.

Have a steady hand. You're probably think, “Well, Duh!”, but blurry shots are the number one cause of death in mobile photo taking. You don't necessarily have to be steady, but simply find a steady object to rest the phone on. I tend to rest my phone or arm on a wall, table, car, desk, senior citizen, etc, in order to get that perfectly steady shot. It's done when using a regular digital camera, so there's no different when using your mobile phones camera.

Use that flash! Flashes can be harsh, but for mobile photos they can be a life saver. You really want to capture the object in the photo, not always the coloring. Right? Consider the flash on the next phone you buy. Is it a good one? Some HTC & Motorola phones have dual LED flashes now, which are almost as bright as a regular flash.

Clean your lens! Following an unsteady hand, dirty lenses are the number two killer of mobile photos. It's just like a regular camera; if you have fingerprints on the lens, the photos are going to come out looking terrible. I watch some people try to take a photo of something, and they're complaining that it looks washed out or blurry. When I look at their phone, there's a thick layer of oil from their hands on the lens. Nice.

Use photo apps and filters, but with caution. As designers we usually know when and when not to use filters, but some smartphone users get carried away. If you're an android user, try PicPlz or Vignette. And two iphone photo apps that I hear a lot of good things about are Instagram and Camera+. These photo apps can create some awesome pictures when using the flash. It embraces the somewhat poor quality of phone cameras and creates that nostalgic look some of us enjoy.

Buy a phone with a good camera. This is my last tip, and one of the most important. When buying your next smartphone, consider the number of megapixels AND the technology behind them. It's takes more than megapixels to get a good photo from a digital camera, and that same rule carries onto phone cameras. Check out sample photos from people who actually own the phone, not the “samples” from the manufacturer. Usually, Engadget has great reviews of the more high-end smart phones and posts some sample photos that they took while testing.

There you go! A little advice for taking those perfect mobile photos. And if anyone else has some tips, please share in comments below.

(Photos were taken with: Sidekick LX, Blackberry & MyTouch 3G)


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