- Tips for Sharper Photos with Smartphones
- Understanding Crop Factor: Are You Being Scammed By Camera Manufacturers? (Video)
- Interesting Photo of the Day: Sunrise in Bulgaria
- Storytelling Potential with Light Field Camera Technology (Video)
Posted: 26 May 2014 12:25 AM PDT
Over the past few years, we've seen some dramatic improvements in the quality of smartphone cameras on the market. Today, we have handsets with large lenses, 10x capabilities, and even 40-megapixel resolution. As a result, more and more people are now taking snapshots using their handy mobile devices. The 2013 Pew Internet survey on mobile usage revealed that 82 percent of people use their smart devices to capture images.
Although they're convenient to use, smartphones are still not as powerful as DSLRs or high-end point-and-shoot digital cameras. When not properly utilized, images can be rendered blurry and low-quality. To enhance the photos, people often resort to editing the output afterwards either through using an app or using Photoshop on their computer.
While I have no problem with enhancing images through editing, I still believe that your unedited photos should be near-perfect regardless of your mobile camera's specifications. Here are some tips on how you can naturally improve the quality of your mobile photographs:
Use The Hold And Release Trick
Have you experienced getting blurry photographs no matter how you hold your device? Hitting the virtual camera icon on your screen disregards the phone's automatic focus. Unless your phone is equipped with continuous Optical Image Stabilization (OIS), the device will still perceive a slight shake as you take the shot. One of the widely used strategies to combat this is to tap the portion of the screen that lets you focus on the subject before hitting the phone's shutter. Kenna Kloseterman of creativeLIVE, shared another trick: the hold & release tactic. Simply point at your desired frame and hold the camera icon/button down for a second or two before releasing. It automatically focuses and captures the subject with lesser risk of shakes.
Get Close To Your Subject
One of the most common indicators that a photograph was taken using a mobile device is when the subject ends up being tiny, to the point of being unrecognizable. This is actually a result of its smaller pixel size and lower resolution as compared to DSLRs. Your best solution is to move your phone's lens closer to the subject that you're framing. Avoid zooming as it will just result in pixilated/blurred image. If you have a high-end gizmo with a higher megapixel count, you can still utilize its optical/digital zoom flawlessly.
Verizon suggests that you first learn about your phone’s zooming capabilities. Take some sample shots upon purchase to determine if it has an optical or digital zoom. You are not advised to zoom if your phone lacks moveable lenses for optical zoom, as it will just process the pixels remaining in the area you zoomed into. It’s similar to cropping a selected portion of your subject; it will still end up pixilated.
Light Is Your Ultimate Savior
Even if you own the best smartphone camera on the planet, without adequate lighting, your picture will be dark. Ensure your subject is well-lighted. Look for a natural source of light around your surroundings – it could be sun rays passing through your windows or the artificial light inside your house.
Avoid using the built-in flash, as it commonly overexposes your subject. The built-in flash in your gizmo is only intended to be used for night shots. If you fire it for afternoon shots, or if you're in a shaded environment, you might notice that your images appear darker than the usual.
When you do use flash, keep in mind that artificial light impacts the color cast in your shots. Experiment with white balance to fix it.
Experiment With White Balance
Even if you have good lighting and a great mobile camera, sometimes the saturation level of your subject’s color is still inaccurate. An easy solution to this dilemma is to manually manipulate the white balance to modify the color balance in your photographs based on your shooting conditions. If it’s sunny, use incandescent mode to balance the tint reaction. If you’re inside and the surrounding is too orange, set your white balance to fluorescent mode.
These are just a few tips for improving your smartphone photographs naturally. Even without editing, you can capture great images using your handy mobile device.
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Posted: 25 May 2014 07:13 PM PDT
Perhaps you have heard the term “crop factor” before, but you’re not sure what it really means. If that’s the case, you’re probably also unaware of what an important part it plays in making the most of your digital camera. The camera settings we still use–ISO, aperture, and f-stop–were designed for film and do not take into account the wide variety of sensor sizes used by digital cameras; we use crop factor to account for these shortcomings in camera design. If you use a camera with a smaller sensor, the following video could completely change the way you shoot:
What is Crop Factor?
So, what is crop factor, anyway? As Tony Northrup tells us, it is the size ratio of smaller sensors to a 35mm film frame. For example, a Micro Four Thirds sensor is half the size of a 35mm frame, so it has a crop factor of 2. It might seem logical that full-frame cameras, whose sensors are the same size as 35mm frames, would naturally make better pictures, since they have a larger sensor and can take in more photographic information. However, Northrup shows us that this is actually a myth. And he tells us how to take photographs with smaller-sensor cameras that are just as good.
There are a number of camera settings that must be adjusted by the crop factor:
To better understand these concepts, let’s take a look at some examples:
The above image shows three photographs of a white wall (which appears gray), taken with three cameras of different sensor sizes. The ISO, aperture, and shutter speed were exactly the same for all three. But as you can see, the smaller the sensor size, the noisier the image looks, because smaller sensors receive less total light.
These photos were taken with three different cameras as above, but the crop factor has been applied. The appropriate ISO makes it possible to take a relatively noise-free photograph, even with a small sensor.
This is a great example of everything the crop factor can do, in one image. The photograph on the left was taken with a full-frame camera; on the right, with a Micro Four Thirds camera (with a crop factor of 2). The focal length on the left is 100mm; on the right, 200mm. As you can see, though the settings are different, the two photos have a similar viewing angle, depth of field and brightness. They are not exactly the same, but they’re very close!
Are You Being Scammed By Your Lens Manufacturer?
Dishonest marketing by several camera companies fails to account for all aspects of crop factor. This leaves many photographers disappointed with their purchases and unable to get the results they’re looking for. Northrup suggests you stick with gear from Nikon, Canon, and Fuji, as these companies are more truthful in their advertising. But, by understanding crop factor, you can make smarter purchasing decisions next time you’re in the market for a lens from any manufacturer.
Applying crop factor also helps you get better photos using the gear you already own. Though full-frame digital cameras are more expensive and are often thought to be objectively “better” than those with smaller sensors, Northrup has debunked this myth by showing us that image quality doesn’t have to suffer if you do the right math.
Go to full article: Understanding Crop Factor: Are You Being Scammed By Camera Manufacturers? (Video)
Posted: 25 May 2014 02:35 PM PDT
We’ve all seen thousands of sunrise and sunset photos and, no doubt, we’ve all taken a few of our own. I mean, how can you resist? There’s just something so magical when the sun cuts across the horizon, or through a beautiful, natural landscape like the one seen below. Photographer Evgeni Dinev perfectly portrays the mystic, magical sense that the early morning sun can bring in his photo of a Bulgarian sunrise cutting through the morning mist:
The scene near Golyam Beglik lake in Bulgaria was captured with a Canon EOS 5D with a focal length of 17mm, a shutter speed of 1/200, an aperture of f/11, and ISO 200.
Posted: 25 May 2014 12:43 PM PDT
It’s portrait time, and you’d better get the focus spot-on, because if you goof that up, your image is very likely ruined unless you can put a justifiable artsy spin on the image in post. But what if we told you that there’s a camera out there that would allow you to actually change focal points and fix your mistake?
Meet the Lytro ILLUM camera, a single lens light field camera that represents a whole new breed of digital imaging devices. To demonstrate the ILLUM’s technical capabilities, Lytro challenged five photographers to create “living” images that depicted various emotions with the ILLUM and then created this short film to showcase their work:
How Light Field Cameras Work
In order to understand how light field camera technology works, it’s important to understand how traditional cameras record images. Your standard DSLR is capable of recording a two-dimensional representation of a particular scene; it does this by harnessing the pixels along the camera’s imaging sensor’s x and y axes (length and width) to capture a photo.
The ILLUM was created with microlens array technology, which is a fancy way to say that the camera is equipped with about 100,000 microlenses in front of the camera’s 40 MP imaging sensor. When someone takes a photo, each of those microlenses captures a tiny image of the scene, and the camera composites all of those tiny images into one two-dimensional frame.
But while the ILLUM is capable of delivering high quality 2D images when used correctly, its real forte is 3D imaging. The camera records the direction, color, and brightness of light within an image and thus provides the viewer with unprecedented freedom to explore and animate the image by changing perspectives, focus, depth of field, and other previously-unchangeable technical elements after capture.
Ranging in genre focuses from diorama to action sports photography, the five storytellers that are featured in Lytro’s ILLUM video are portrait photographer Anna Webber, action sports photographer Brian Nevins, fashion photographer Roman Leo, fine art photographer Kyle Thompson, and diorama photographer Lori Nix. Charged with using the ILLUM camera to depict grief, hope, rage, fear, and love, the photographers each express fascination with the camera’s storytelling potential and the compositional challenges presented by its versatile focusing technology.
Here are some of their images and comments:
“I’ve always struggled with depth of field in large format, but this camera [allows] me to focus on the foreground, middle ground, and the background. It’s definitely allowing the viewer to become more a part of the scene.” — Lori Nix[/caption]The Lytro ILLUM camera is expected to be released on August 20, 2014, but pre-ordering is currently available for $1,500.
Go to full article: Storytelling Potential with Light Field Camera Technology (Video)
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