Droidography – Shooting Tips with Droid phones

So far if you have been reading my columns, I have reviewed several apps that are out there. Trust me there are tons more and most of them are free or cheap unlike the iphone. This week I thought I would take a break from that and give a few pointers on getting good cell phone pictures, particularly focusing (no pun intended) on Droid phones. I think the best way to approach this subject is to offer a few suggestions in each of my next few columns. Hopefully these tips can improve you photos and help realize what the limitations (currently) they have.

1. Don’t Zoom! – If you have been spending anytime at all looking at the settings on your Droid’s phone, you have probably noticed it has a Zoom feature. I am asking something very difficult of you, don’t use it. Here is why…its a digital zoom. Most cameras these days even the point and shoot variety have digital zoom of course, but they also have optical zoom as well. Let me explain the difference and show you example images of a zoomed in shot and an unzoomed shot. Optical zoom uses actual lenses to magnify an image whereas digital zoom gives the appearance of zooming by cropping a photo, adding pixels, and so forth to compensate for lack of a motor-driven lens. Lets look at a couple of examples.

Silktree Zoomed in 4X

Silktree unzoomed

If you look at the two example shots above you should notice some obvious differences. The zoomed shot above appears blocky and not as clear as the unzoomed shot below it. The unzoomed shot is clear (although its a bright day here in Texas) and overall looks much richer than the other. If you really need a longshot of something use a regular point and shoot or a Digital SLR with a zoom lens. Otherwise, you might not get the shot you desire. However, something you might consider is that using your digital zoom might get a shot you can live with other than no shot at all. Most of the time I have my cell with me and if a zoomed shot with it is all I can get, I have to live with that.

2. Realize its Limitations – We already mentioned zoom and the limits it places on you getting a quality photo (or at least decent) with your Droid or other cell phone. Most cell phones these days have 5.0 megapixel cameras or higher. Usually that’s decent enough for posting to social media sites or other sites on the web, but currently you will not get a high enough quality image for say an 8X10 or larger. Cell cameras just don’t have the resolution available for that yet. Hopefully that will come soon!

3. Kick up the Megapixels – To get the highest quality images possible with your cell phone make sure your camera settings are at the highest possible resolution available on your phone. Storage these days should not be an issue since most cell cameras (including Droids) store images on a memory card. Unfortunately on my phone it is automatically set and as of yet I have not found where to change it.

4. Double check your settings – I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to snap pictures with my Droid only to find out after the fact I had it set on Macro and I was trying to take a longer shot, resulting in a blurry image. Try to make it a habit to check that all your settings are appropriate for the shot you about to take before you take it. Otherwise, you could miss your shot.  I realize sometimes this is not possible in sports or nature settings, but try and it can make all the difference. Let me show you an example.

Long shot Macro on

Long shot Macro off

By viewing the above two photos you can see leaving your Macro setting on can result in a blurry image when you take a long shot. It sounds simple to correct, but if you are like me and use the Macro to snap close up shots of plants and critters (at least the ones that hold still and let you get close) and then switch to longer shots its easy to forget and leave it on.

Hopefully, the above tips will help you overall get better shots with your Droid. Join me next week for more tips that should help improve your shots. As always thanks for reading!

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