Mobile phone photography tips and tricks

Phone cameras have eventually revolutionized the world of photography, with more people taking photos and sharing them on social sites such as Instagram. With the advancement of technology in phone cameras, features of these cameras have kept on changing, both on the hardware and software level. Due to this, camera terminology has kept on changing, with jargons such as image stabilization, auto HDR, ISO, image stabilization, panorama and many more emerging with the release of new phones in the market. A better understanding of these terms makes it easy for a person to make quality photos in any environment.

Camera Terminology


In a nutshell, ISO is defined as the ability of the camera’s sensor to sense light. Every time a camera makes an exposure, each and every pixel is registered with a unique number that depicts the intensity of the light received. That is between 0 – black and 255 – white. The difference in each pixel’s light intensity makes up the image in the screen. Altering the ISO settings of your camera will result to the picture becoming lighter or darker. The lower the ISO level (the lowest level is normally 100), the darker the image, and higher the ISO value (highest level depends with the camera’s sensor), the brighter the image.


Stands for high dynamic range imaging, and basically refers to a feature in mobile phones software that facilitates production of high precision photos with a higher range of colors and brightness levels. To achieve this, a single click of the capture button takes three, or five quick succession photos, all with different exposures. The software then combines these images together, highlighting the best parts of each photo. This explains why your phone camera takes some time to process a HDR photo as compared to an ordinary photo.

Aperture and f – number

Aperture size is the size of a camera lens, or the size of the opening that lets light pass through when taking photos. Aperture is basically measured, or listed as an f – number, which can be defined as the ratio between the size of the hole and focal length. For instance, an f-number of 3, written as f/3 means that the focal length is three times the size of the aperture. Cameras with narrow aperture results to relatively darker photos than those with wide aperture (narrow aperture translates to a higher f-number, and vice versa)

Image stabilization

image stabilization refers to the reduction of blurring effects, either as a result of movement of the camera (phone in this case), or the subject. Image stabilization exists in two forms, electronic image stabilization and optical image stabilization. Normally, optical image stabilization is more effective and yields better results compared to electronic image stabilization.
Panorama – Refers to an effect that leads to production of wide elongated photos. Generally, the camera takes different photos of the subject, either horizontally or vertically, and combines them to generate a wide aspect ratio photo. This feature is important when capturing wide subjects, such as landmarks.


Refers to the number of pixels in an image. As seen above, an image is made up of many pixels with different light levels. This means that an image with more pixels is more clear and precise that an image with fewer pixels. The standard unit of measuring pixels in a camera is megapixel (MP). Thus, a higher resolution results to images with more detail and greater clarity.
Tips for Taking Better Photos with Your mobile phone
Photography is an art, and does not only depend on the effectiveness of the equipment used, but also the skills of the photographer. However, the greatest percentage of online photo enthusiasts believe that the secret to taking good photos is by first understanding the full the potential of your camera.

Here are tips to taking better photos

  • Identify the power of the camera in your phone. Can the camera take photos in low light environments? Can the camera capture HDR images? What is the default ISO setting of your camera? To answer these questions, you need to understand each and every feature of your camera, and know when, where and how to use them. If possible, consult your user’s manual or read online reviews for more information.
  • Get closer to the subject. Being close to the subject makes it possible for the camera to focus precisely. The small sensor in phone cameras provide a wider depth of field, enabling you to get entire objects in focus while still getting control over the light of the subject.
  • Avoid use of HDR feature while capturing moving subjects. HDR uses multiple images to come up with the final masterpiece. In a moving subject, the continuous images taken will be different, greatly affecting the final HDR image.
  • Use camera effects appropriately. Every camera app comes with a bunch of camera effects or filters, to add more effects to the final image. Know when and where to use these effects. For instance, use the grayscale effect in an instance where color detail is not necessary. Also, to capture an old subject, such as your uncle’s 40 years old Peugeot, use the sepia effect to give the feeling of an old photo.
  • Try new shooting angles. Don’t just stick to ordinary shooting angles, try switching between tilted angles, eye level tip, subject off center, straight up, or think of more captivating angles. Well, if an angle doesn’t yield good results, delete the photo and try a new angle!
  • Don’t forget to include shadows and reflections in your photography. Shadows and reflections of your subject should never be underestimated. They are part of the subject! Moreover, they help in giving more information, such as the source of light, time of the day, etc.

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14 Responses

  1. Vari says:

    This is a really great resource. It seems like these days, more and more people are abandoning super expensive cameras and settling for their phones. A phone really feels like all that you need these days.

    • geektech says:

      hey vari i second that cameras are becoming obsolete its much easier to travel with your Phone where as u can multi task with with a camera you can only do two thing video and take a picture

    • Jasmine2015 says:

      I agree about how multi functional phones are these days. You can take nice pics, send email, view videos and so much more. I remember the days of when I didn’t have a cell phone and when I did it was a brick phone! Now we have these cool slick smartphones doing lots of things for us.

  2. Jasmine2015 says:

    I have learned so many new things words here! Although I am not into photography, I know some people are passionate about this type of thing. At least I now have an idea as to why my phone’s camera sometimes suck. I don’t know much about adjusting the settings of my camera on my phone because I don’t care to. Though I bet there are apps and tutorials for this type of thing.

  3. Diane Lane says:

    I enjoy photography, and seek out articles now and then, so I can learn more. I found this to be very helpful in explaining some concepts I wasn’t entirely clear on before. I, too, take pleasure in photography that is different than the standard shots everyone takes, and like to take my pictures from a variety of angles, both with a mobile device, as well as my digital camera.

  4. Joyna Michyari says:

    This article really explains the nitty gritties of a mobile camera. So few people know about these tips. I really benefitted from reading this. Clicking good photos is now going to be so much simpler.

  5. AshwinMahesh says:

    Wow, I never knew that HDR should not be switched while capturing moving images.

    Also don’t get me wrong but some of the other tips you have mentioned for taking great photos are generic in nature and not specific to mobile or smartphone cameras. This could apply to any camera in general.

  6. Alys says:

    This post really helped me with my photography! I am starting a blog and this will help me take quality photos while I save to get a good camera!

  7. AlyHar says:

    Thank you for this post. I always thought that I needed to get an expensive camera to get quality photos. Being able to use my phone will make it easier for me to take good photos seeing how I carry it with me everywhere! I’m really going to try some of these tips so my blog photos can better.

  8. PhoneHome says:

    Thanks for this – it’s a really well laid out and comprehensive guide and, as someone else has said, relevant to any form of photography. I’ve been aware for some time that the photos I take with my phone aren’t very good and now I can see some of the reasons why!

  9. valedevento says:

    This is great, I use my phone quite often for taking pictures and they are really good quality. The problem is when zooming in it all gets a bit blurry. It is amazing that we don’t have to carry our big camera around to make great pictures. The only problem with my phone is when taking pictures with little light, like sunsets.

  10. ikarosalpha says:

    I should really make more use of what you taught me about ISO. I already use HDR excessively, although it always saves two pictures for each shot. I’m guessing it’s an actual HDR picture and a regular shot.
    Thanks for explaining the aperture, as I always got confused on which was better between f/2.2 and f/1.8.

  11. dame6089 says:

    People would be surprised how high quality the photos are that you can take with something as simple as an iPhone. Actually, one of Apple’s ad campaigns in NYC in the last year or so focused on this. Plastered acorss the subway trains and terminals were high quality photos taken by an iPhone. As someone walking by on my commute, I just thought they were really pretty photos until I saw the Apple logo. Hopefully this article makes people appreciate their phone cameras more. You can do amazing things with them!

  12. arunava2016 says:

    The best idea is to download a camera app for best effects. Camera apps takes a lot of hard work out of mobile phone photography as these are mostly auto adjustable and have all the professional features. If you have a phone of ten megapixels or more in your phone and you use a good app then you will not have to think about things like frame width, range, resolution or stability at the time of clicking. But with a little effort and some experimenting with your phone’s camera features, you can take great pictures without an app as well.

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