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Android How-to: Manual Mode Basics on the Meizu MX4 Camera

November 18, 2014 - Written By Nick Sutrich

Smartphone cameras are notorious for having tons of different shooting modes, most of them very gimmicky and only useful in very specific situations.  While all these automatic modes can be really nice for certain situations, some times you may just want a little manual control over the scene you’re trying to shoot.  Manual modes have been getting more and more popular but sometimes they can leave important settings out or make them difficult to get to.  Much like with the burst mode that Meizu put together for the MX4, the manual mode brings lots of settings and power to the table without the hassle of figuring out menus or where to go.  Manual photo shooting can be a little confusing sometimes, but let’s try to break it down a bit today.

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Star of course by opening the camera and swiping across the screen to the right to get to manual mode.  You can swipe anywhere to change modes on the FlymeOS 4.0 camera for the Meizu MX4, which makes switching modes super easy and quick.  Manual mode features a number of on-screen buttons and sliders that the other modes don’t have, so let’s go over them one by one.  Starting out on the left is the shutter speed setting, which is set to auto by default.  Bringing the slider away from the auto mode makes it the fastest, shooting at 1/1000th of a second.  Moving it all the way to the right keeps the shutter open for 20 seconds, taking in tons of light and brightening up any scene.  Shutter speed is generally a setting that you don’t want to change in many situations, but should stick with adjusting the ISO to adapt to lower lighting situations simply because holding the shutter open for inordinately long amounts of time results in scene blur when either your subject is moving or your hands shake a bit.  If you’re going to use a shutter speed any longer than 1/2 of a second you would do best to have the camera placed on a tripod or another surface where it’s not going to move.

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The next setting is ISO, which is a forcible way to make the sensor accept more light than is necessarily normal.  By adjusting the ISO and making the number higher you are adjusting the sensitivity of the sensor.  While this accepts more light it does it in sort of an “artificial” manner, creating noise in the picture.  In some situations noise isn’t inherently a bad thing but the lower the lighting conditions and the higher the ISO the more noticeable the noise is going to be.  Meizu has implemented an excellent denoising filter that helps eliminate noise, but raising this setting too high in a dark environment will end up creating muddy looking pictures that don’t have much detail.  Balancing this together with the shutter speed will give you the best picture.  In general the Meizu MX4 is able to range from ISO 1600 down to slightly below 100 depending on the situation in auto mode.

Exposure is the third setting on the wheel, and this is simply an adjustment of lighting conditions relative to what the camera has decided automatically.  You can adjust plus or minus 3 from the automatically decided mode, so if you think the photo is too bright or too dark you can use this to manually adjust that setting.  In general smartphones tend to overexpose on auto mode, so adjusting -1 or -2 usually ends up in a better picture than auto will provide.

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Lastly Meizu has added an amazing manual focus mode; something practically no other smartphone on the market can say.  This helps for when you’re trying to get something in focus and the auto focus just can’t figure out what to do.  Like the rest of the settings this is represented by a slider where the left side is the closest focus to the phone and the right side is the furthest.  Pushing the slider all the way to the right puts it in infinite focus mode which attempts to get everything in the picture at once.  And that’s all there is to it to manually shooting pictures on the Meizu MX4!  Taking shots like this requires some patience and plenty of practice, so give it a shot and don’t be discouraged if you don’t get it all right on the first try.  Make sure to use the auto modes as a base to adjusting the picture for extra help.

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