How to use manual function on your smartphone camera
Photographers claim that the best camera is the one you have with you, and in most cases it would be your smart phone. While cell phones do not always provide a good shooting experience, technological advances have been set at almost the same level as many dedicated cameras. However, having a quality camera is only half the battle. You need to learn how to do most things and nothing beats shots in manual mode.
With manual control, you can manipulate settings to create the image you really want. We know that manual mode can be daunting for available users. especially those who do not know advanced camera theory. While it is true Photography is a comprehensive subject, we can learn the basics and make you shoot manually with your smartphone in no time.
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] Let's start by understanding what it takes to expose a picture correctly. In Photography, the exposure triangle is a visualization of how ISO, aperture and shutter speed work together. You need to find a balance between these three elements to expose a picture correctly, considering how change of each element affects the quality.
I want to keep things that simple, so we will give you the definition of each factor and tell you how Change it affects an image.
ISO stands for "International Organization of Standardization", which is responsible for standardizing sensitivity ratings for camera sensors. In photography, ISO will determine how sensitive a sensor should illuminate.
A lower ISO makes the sensor less sensitive to light, which means that you may have to make the aperture wider and / or slow down the shutter speed. At the same time, the image becomes cleaner.
By increasing ISO, you can capture the light faster, so you can speed up the shutter or widen the aperture, but it will also create an image with more grain or digital noise. The quality of the image decreases as you increase ISO.
The camera system has a shutter that covers and senses the sensor. Shutter speed determines how long this shutter should be open to allow more light to reach the sensor.
A faster shutter speed will result in less exposure, but it will sharpen images. Similarly, shutter speed extension can create motion blur, but it will light up for a long time, resulting in more exposure.
Camera system has a diaphragm, which is a hole through which light must pass through to reach the sensor. The aperture controls how large or narrow this hole is.
A wider aperture increases exposure. It will also reduce the depth of field and make background / foreground blurries. If you want to stay more focused, a narrower aperture will be better, but you will have to cope with the lost exposure that changes ISO or shutter speed. In this case, a larger number will indicate a narrower aperture. For example, f / 1.8 is wider than f / 2.8.
This is something that most people do not have to worry about, because apertures usually cannot be controlled in smartphones. The only exceptions come from Samsung. The company introduced "Dual Aperture" with the Samsung Galaxy S9, which lets you switch between f / 1.5 and f / 2.4. They have also used this technology with the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and the Samsung Galaxy S10 series.
White balance is a very common setting you will probably find with even in basic camera apps. This setting adjusts the color that represents white light, thereby moving all other colors as well. This enables creative use of warmer and cooler images. It is also helpful when you compensate for any discoloration that your light sources can introduce. If you've ever noticed that your indoor photos always look orange, this setting you want to tweak.
At the most basic level, you probably have seen white balance settings that allow you to compensate for cloudy or sunny outdoor shots and bulbs or fluorescent lamps. Over these basic settings, some apps offer color correction with a full kelvin (K) color temperature scale. This enables a finer tuning of the white spot, between too red at 2000K and ridiculously blue at 9000K.
Camera settings White balance from top to bottom: Shadow, Sunlight, Fluorescent, Auto, Glowing.
An alternative to making this decision at the recording time is to postpone to take a RAW image. Let's talk about it!
If you have ever seen a camera button with "+" and "-" characters in it, it would be the exposure compensation check. Most smartphone cameras also have exposure compensation and it helps when any of your settings are in auto (you can leave the settings automatically, even in manual mode).
Cameras are trying to get the right exposure by measuring light, but they don't. It's not always what you intended to capture. Sometimes you want things to look a little darker or brighter. With exposure compensation, you can tell the camera that it is taking incorrect exposure and it can adjust the settings in auto (usually ISO).
Exposure compensation is usually measured by f stops like this: -1.0, -0.7, -0.3, 0.0, +0.3, +0.7, +1.0. In this case, -1.0 would be a stop less, while +1.0 would be a stop higher.
Many phones today have RAW support. A RAW image is known as an uncompressed, unaltered image file. It keeps all data captured by the sensor, making it a much larger file, but without quality loss and more editing power. That's why RAW data itself is not much to look at.
RAW should only be used if you plan to go back to edit your photos. The file sizes are much larger, but it allows you to tweak the full exposure and color settings for your images, past the camera's default image processing.
While saving an image to JPEG, deleting image data and compressing the image, this is absolutely great if you plan to upload a picture to Facebook or take a quick snap for your gallery.
You don't need a great camera to take a good picture, but you have to be able to take advantage of what you have. That's why a professional photographer can do amazing things even with a cheap smartphone camera. There is obviously much more to learn, but it is enough to get started with taking some good pictures with your smartphone camera manual mode.