Do not assume that your outdated Android or iPhone cannot work Instagram magic. Get fantastic pictures with the aid of these expert suggestions.
Among the top camera phones available in 2023 are the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Google Pixel 7 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro. These smartphones can take pictures that are comparable to those from professional mirrorless cameras because of their array of lenses and incredible AI algorithms.
However, the high price tags on these premium phones put them beyond the means of many of us. Do not fret. There are several things you can do to still take stunning pictures, even if you just have an older iPhone or Android phone or a budget-focused device without all the bells and whistles. After all, the best images aren’t always taken with the best camera, as any photographer would attest to.
However, you’ll need to put some work into your photos to transform them from unremarkable “ho-hum” snapshots to “oh, wow!” works of art.
So here are my top suggestions for getting the finest pictures out of an old iPhone, Galaxy phone, or ancient Android phone.
Make a great composition.
Even if you use the most sophisticated camera system in the world to capture a picture, poor framing will result in a poor picture. After all, no amount of editing will be able to restore the spire if you manage to accidentally remove it while snapping a picture of a beautiful church.
Don’t just start snapping pictures at your chosen place. Instead, take your time, go about the location, and think about how you want it to look in your photograph. Taking a picture of a landscape? Look for guiding lines in the scene, such as paths or crumbling stone walls. Or perhaps there are some fascinating rocks or flowers in the foreground that could add some interest.
In the options, you can optionally enable a “rule of thirds” grid overlay to assist you in aligning the various components of your scene for aesthetic purposes or just to maintain straight horizons.
Try out the various zoom and wide-angle settings on your rear cameras if you have more than one. Perhaps focusing closer can help you remove any distracting aspects, or perhaps the wider view will allow you to see more of the lovely sight in front of you.
Try using the panorama mode to capture a broader image than the basic camera can if you don’t have a wide-angle view, or use clip-on lenses, as I cover below.
Tell a tale.
The photos that convey a specific story or freeze a certain moment in time are the ones that become the most memorable over time, not just the ones that were taken with the best camera. On your summer vacation, you may not be looking to win a photojournalism award, but thinking like a photographer can help you capture moments that you’ll want to remember in the future.
Maybe this year you’re going to the lovely coast of Italy. Of course, you’ll get a nice picture of the ocean from your hotel terrace, but don’t forget the other things that made your trip so special, like the mouthwatering meals, the dilapidated, dusty streets, the performer in the square, or the eye-popping hues of the fruits and flowers at the neighborhood market. All of these components will result in stunning photographs that capture the essence of the scene and create a compelling visual narrative when you look back on them.
Furthermore, it need not be something you exclusively do on lengthy family vacations. From the street art, you come across on the way to the street food market to the plates of colorful food you choose when you get there, a weekend stroll downtown will provide many exciting narrative prospects. Furthermore, none of these things require cutting-edge camera equipment to be captured beautifully.
Make the most of the light.
Even while today’s best smartphones can capture excellent photographs at night, older devices are likely to lack night features. As a result, when attempting to capture excellent photographs, darkness won’t be your friend. Try to arrive at a city-viewing vantage point during the day, ideally when the sky is a magnificent shade of blue and flecked with fluffy clouds.
Because of its harshness, midday light is typically avoided by landscape photographers, but if you’re exploring city streets, it can present some fantastic opportunities to seek contrast generated by shadows, which could result in dramatic photographs.
No iPhone with several cameras? Employ clip-on eyewear
Although older iPhones might not have as many lenses as more contemporary models, you can still use them. Wide-angle, telephoto, and even macro views are available through phone-attachable lenses made by businesses like Moment and Olloclip.
A clip-on lens is a terrific way to get a super wide perspective of those expansive cityscapes without having to spend a lot of money on upgrading your phone, although it does need you to carry around an extra small object while you explore.
even on outdated smartphones, capture in DNG raw
The iPhone 12 Pro Max introduced Apple’s ProRaw image format, which makes advantage of computational imaging methods like HDR while still giving you a DNG raw file that is considerably simpler to edit in programs like Adobe Lightroom. Older iPhones don’t have this feature, but if you want to do your editing, you can still shoot in ordinary raw on them.
You must use a third-party camera software that supports raw shooting because the default camera mode does not allow you to shoot in DNG raw. Since Lightroom’s camera captures raw photographs and uploads them into your library automatically, I typically use Lightroom itself. But the Moment app has also produced positive outcomes for me.
When you shoot raw, you have more control over the white balance and color tones and may generally tone down or brighten up gloomy regions. If you’re wanting to get the best quality possible from your phone camera, you should think about utilizing raw — provided you have the time to devote to editing.
However, keep in mind that since raw files are bigger than their JPEG equivalents, you’ll quickly exhaust the capacity on your phone if you shoot everything you see in raw.
Make art with editing software.
The process of generating excellent photographic art involves more than just taking the picture; it also involves careful editing. Look into tools like Lightroom or Google’s Snapseed if you want to keep your shot looking more natural. You can fine-tune your photographs using the color, exposure, and contrast controls these raw image editors provide.
Or you can use applications like Prisma, which turns your photos into frequently psychedelic-looking scenes, or Bazaart, which makes it simple to make wild picture collages that can look really cool, to take your creativity to a whole new level. For more ideas, see my compilation of the best photo-editing programs.
There is no right or wrong way to edit, and you can always go back to your original image if you don’t like the modifications you made. This is one of the best things about editing. However, employing some of these methods can make a shot that might otherwise be forgettable into one that really sticks out. Make a cup of tea, find a comfortable seat, and experiment with the sliders in your preferred app to see what ideas you can generate.
Best Photo Editing Apps for iPhone and Android, Free and Paid