Smartphone cameras have come a long ways in the past couple of years. We went from carrying our smartphone and DSLR or point-and-shoot camera with us on vacations to now, just taking our smartphone. The saying goes "the best camera is the one you have with you" and now, even if you have two cameras with you, your smartphone is likely going to be the better camera. Since it's smaller, you can immediately share on Instagram and Twitter and you also have the option to edit these photos almost in real-time.
I mean, these pictures were shot on a smartphone. That's pretty insane.
While smartphones can already take some great photos without the user needing to be a professional photographer, there are some things you can do to make the pictures you take on your Samsung Galaxy smartphone even better. We're going to go through a few tips today on how you can do just that.
Grab a smartphone tripod
If you're just taking photos of your kids, pets, sights you see when you're traveling, then a tripod isn't really necessary. But if you are taking video, or want to take a selfie with the rear-facing camera (which is usually the better camera), then a tripod is a good accessory to pick up and take your photography game to the next level.
The Pixel (not to be confused with Google's Pixel brand) Flexible Tripod is a good option. This is priced pretty low, under $20. It is a tripod that can also hold your smartphone in place. It can adjust from 12 to 19 inches. So it's not a tall tripod, but it will do the trick for getting that time-lapse on the beach of the sunsetting.
If you already have a tripod, then all you need is a smartphone mount for that tripod. You can pick one up from Amazon pretty cheap too. The Vastar Universal Smartphone Tripod Mount is available for less than $7. It just screws onto your tripod, so you can mount your phone in either landscape or portrait to get some really good looking shots.
As we've mentioned already, a tripod is not necessary to get some good pictures, or even some good video with your smartphone. But it can help you out. Seeing as a stationary tripod is going to hold still better than your hand when you're filming video or taking long-exposure shots (typically at night).
Rule of thirds
Every time I get a new smartphone in to review for AndroidHeadlines, the first thing I do in the camera app is run to the settings. From there, I turn on the "grid" feature. This adds the lines on the viewfinder that you'll see in the majority of our reviews - if it shows the camera app. This allows you to use the rule of thirds. The best option is going to be the 3x3 grid, but some smartphones do have a 4x4 grid or a "square" grid which is really meant for Instagram.
The rule of thirds is something that artists, photographers and filmmakers have used for years. It basically means that an image should be divided into nine equal squares. Nothing should be in the very middle of the picture either. Which is the opposite of what most people think. Having it off-center provides a better looking photograph. This is because having something in the smack-dab middle means that your eye is going to be drawn around the picture, making you look at the corners of the scene instead of the subject thats in the center.
On top of that, it also makes it easier to line things up, so that it looks better. Say you're taking a picture of a sign. You don't want it to be crooked, and the 3x3 grid can help you make sure that it is not crooked.
All in all, the rule of thirds will help you take better photos on any camera. Whether that's the Galaxy S10, a Nikon D7200 or any other camera out there. This is one of those tips that applies to any and everything.
Check out your cameras modes
These days, smartphone cameras have a ton of modes that you can choose from. Unlike DSLRs, where you only have a handful of pretty vague modes to choose from, smartphones have many more that are better suited for some specific subjects. Take the "Food" mode for example, that's available on the Galaxy S10 and a ton of other smartphones on the market. It will up the saturation, and blur out the background to make your food look even better than it probably does in real life. In the plain, auto mode, that wouldn't happen.
The Galaxy S10 has a ton of modes. Including the aforementioned Food mode. There's also Panorama, Pro, Live Focus, Photo, Video, Super slow-mo, slow motion and Hyperlapse. And there are usually a few others that you can download from Samsung's apps store. These modes all do something different, and for many, the food, photo, video and super slow-mo are going to be the more popular modes.
Getting to know your cameras different modes can help you get the perfect shot, or get the perfect video. As these modes are for niches, and not just vague scenarios. So no matter what phone you have - Galaxy S10 or something else - definitely check out the different modes that are available.
Never, ever use the flash
I see this all the time, people taking photos outside at night, with the flash on. Don't do it. In fact, smartphones should just remove the flash altogether, but then we wouldn't have a flashlight on our smartphone. The flash usually makes the picture look much worse. In fact, that's another one of the first settings I change on a new smartphone, when I open the camera, take the flash off of "auto".
Say you are taking a photo of someone at night. It's dark out, so their eyes aren't used to light at that moment. The flash goes off and boom, you have a terrible photo. This is because either the person blinked, or they are blinded from the light. Which means that you're going to need to retake the photo, so you've just wasted everyone's time.
Now that most smartphones have some sort of night mode in their camera, you really don't even need the flash anymore. The night mode will take a much better photo, and you likely won't need to retake it either. Samsung doesn't have a dedicated night mode, but it is able to take photos in a darker environment much easier than some other smartphones out there. It's not quite on the level of Google Pixel's Night Sight (but then again, that is just unreal), but you'll get a pretty good picture out of it.
The thing to remember with these night modes, is that you need to hold your hands still while it takes the shot. That is because it is taking multiple pictures at once, and combining them into a single image. It's taking all of that data, which is going to make it brighter, and keep the street lights from being blown out.
The cameras found on smartphones nowadays are pretty impressive. The Galaxy S10's camera is no exception either. In fact, when I went to Google I/O in May, I brought my DSLR along with me to the keynote, but I found that the Galaxy S10+ and its telephoto sensor did a much better job at taking photos during the keynote. And I used it throughout the rest of the time I was at Google I/O. And you couldn't even notice a difference between it and my DSLR, other than the fact that the pictures were a little more saturated than normal. That right there just shows you how impressive your smartphone's camera is.
It's important to take some time and really play around with the camera on your smartphone, so you can get used to how well it works, what kind of tricks you need to do to make the camera take even better photos and so forth. In many cases, you'll find that your Samsung Galaxy smartphone is going to take a better picture than those DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras that cost as much as the Galaxy phone you just bought, or even a bit more.
These tips that we mentioned here aren't just for the Galaxy S10 either. They will work with any smartphone, whether it's a Samsung Galaxy smartphone or something else. The cameras are all mostly the same these days, except for a few small changes. Like the fact that Samsung likes to make their photos have a bit more of a saturated look, while Sony and Google for a more natural look. So next time you're looking to get a camera, don't worry about it, and just use the smartphone that's in your pocket. If you're looking for the best smartphone with the best camera, well any of them will suffice. They are all pretty incredible in 2019.