The most important camera settings – PC WORLD

Bad light, upright or across, minimize image noise – these photo tips will help you.

What ISO, AWB and EV mean

What ISO, AWB and EV mean

The camera on your cell phone allows manual settings, but ISO & Co. tell you nothing? Here is a short summary of all information. If your camera app offers a professional mode, you can control some settings yourself. You choose the light sensitivity of the image sensor, also known as the ISO value, depending on the lighting situation. However, keep in mind that the image noise increases as the ISO value increases. The shutter speed (about 1/250 or 1/60 second) controls how long the image is exposed. Shorter exposure freezes movements, longer exposure makes photos brighter in low light, but needs a steady hand. With the white balance you adjust the camera to the light source (daylight, artificial light, fluorescent tubes, AWB = automatic). EV exposure compensation lets you make photos lighter or darker overall. The AF mode (autofocus) influences how the camera focuses: AF-S (Auto Focus Single) is suitable for static subjects, AF-C (Auto Focus Continuous) for movements because the AF follows, and MF (Manual Focus ) for manual focus. You adjust the metering mode for the exposure metering (the rectangles stand for “matrix”, “center” and “spot”) to the subject.

Photo light instead of camera flash

Photo light instead of camera flash

Poor light is a challenge for cell phone photos. With these tricks you can do without flash. Smartphone photos with flash are often not very flattering because the flash LED illuminates the subject from the front. You can achieve interesting photo effects when taking pictures with the flash deactivated, if you illuminate the scene with a second smartphone, a cheap LED photo light or if necessary with an LED flashlight.

For continuous smartphone lighting, simply start a video recording on the second cell phone with the LED light switched on. You can get battery-operated LED video lights in mail order from 25 euros. They provide flicker-free continuous light that can be adjusted using an integrated dimmer. Since your phone is not equipped for attaching accessories, either hold the lamp in your hand or mount it on a tripod. Almost all LED lights have a tripod thread.

Basic setting for good photos

The resolution of the camera and display is not optimally configured in the factory for many smartphones. How to improve the specifications. Huawei and other manufacturers set a “smart resolution” for the display. The word “Smart” hides the fact that displays work in this mode with reduced resolution in order to save power for a longer battery life. However, when evaluating your photos you need the full display resolution. Therefore switch off the “Smart resolution” in the Android settings and set the highest display resolution.

The camera sensor also often does more than the preset number of megapixels. In favor of the zoom and the series photo speed, a reduced resolution is set instead of the maximum. For the best image quality photos, activate the highest sensor resolution in the Android settings or the camera app.


The most important smartphone camera features for 2020

Take high-contrast photos with HDR

With HDR you enhance colors and contrasts in your photos. This is particularly effective for landscape shots. The camera app in your phone has an HDR button, but you are not sure what you can use HDR mode for? Then you will find all information summarized here.

HDR stands for “High Dynamic Range” and is a process for optimally expressing colors and contrasts in difficult lighting situations – with maximum tonal value and dynamic range, say the professionals.

Your cell phone takes several pictures for HDR: one light, one dark and one normal. It then merges the images so that no area appears too dark or too bright.

HDR brings improvements in backlighting, landscape photos and in situations with large differences in brightness, such as at dusk.

If you want to take a high-contrast picture, activate the HDR mode in the camera app. With the HDR automatic, you allow your smartphone to switch on the HDR mode if necessary.

You can recognize HDR photos by the HDR logo in the gallery app on the phone – and often with the naked eye by the magnificent play of colors. Sometimes HDR also gives exaggerated results. The pictures then appear artificial. In this case, simply switch off HDR.

Better portrait or landscape photography?

When taking pictures, you have to choose between portrait and landscape. The old photographer rule “take a picture – see more” is outdated on the smartphone. In the age of social networks, portrait format has become the quasi standard for cell phone photos.

However, for a number of motifs such as landscape photos and group photos, the landscape format with its panorama effect is still the more effective and therefore more beautiful format. Portrait format is particularly suitable for portraits and selfies.

If you are not sure how best to hold your smartphone when taking pictures, simply look at your subject in both formats on the display and compare the effect of the picture.

Take crisp, clear photos

A pointer can be crucial to ensure that your photo ends up in the cell phone memory in razor-sharp and beautifully exposed light. Whether portraits, short trips at the weekend or a photo session on the beach – many pictures are nice, but when you look at them enlarged they lack sharpness or the colors are just not right. The cell phone camera takes care of focusing and exposure independently, but the automatic does not always hit the mark. That is annoying, because your cell phone has more on it. A tap on the display at the right moment often makes the difference between a snapshot and a great picture.

Help the camera app by tapping with your finger on the point to be used for focusing and exposure metering. The lens already focuses on the desired area and adjusts the exposure accordingly to the subject situation.

In high-contrast scenes, difficult lighting conditions and subjects with objects that are at different distances, the self-set focus point often results in much better photos than simply holding on.

Take high buildings as a panorama

Are you standing in front of a tall building and wondering how you should get a complete picture of the building? With the panorama mode!

Buildings such as the Cologne Cathedral, the Empire State Building or the Burj al Arab are so high that they can only be completely captured from a distance even with a new ultra-wide-angle smartphone. If you stand closer or directly in front of it, you can get the structure by tilting the cell phone extremely on a photo. In such photo situations, the panorama mode in the camera app will help you.

The panorama function is mostly used only for horizontal all-round images. You swivel your cell phone sideways to take a panoramic picture. By switching to vertical mode, you can swivel upwards when shooting and thus capture buildings in XXL dimensions in one picture. The camera shows an arrow when it is released. Slowly move the phone in this direction to the full height of the structure, then stop recording.

Take photos at night

If you know how to do it, sharp images in the dark are no longer a problem. So your smartphone takes better photos at night.

  1. Even if the flash built into the cell phone invites you to use it at night – don’t do it. The flash LED only illuminates the immediate vicinity and has the disadvantage that distant areas are too dark in the end.

  2. Many smartphones have an integrated night mode especially for photos in the dark. With complex calculations and a long exposure time, it gets more out of the poor lighting situation. If this is the case with your device, switch on the night shot function.

  3. If your cell phone does not have a night mode, but an HDR mode, switch it on. The function gives your subject stronger contrasts that light and dark areas of the image stand out optimally.

  4. Night shots taken by hand are often blurred and out of focus because the long exposure times that the camera uses in low light cannot be held by hand without blurring. To counteract this, you should set up, lean or support your cell phone somewhere.

  5. If your camera app offers manual settings, you can also play around with the exposure parameters yourself.

Take food photos to eat

Be it schnitzel, veggi bowl or panna cotta – this is how food photos succeed that are guaranteed to make your mouth water.

Food photos are one of the most viewed and shared photos on social networks. It’s a good thing that there are simple tricks that you can use to stage food – whether cooked or not yourself.

How to arrange your dishes

You don’t have to be a food blogger to photograph your food. A particularly well-made dish at home or a memorable visit to a restaurant is also a favorite photograph. Some phones even offer their own motif program for this.

The best way to arrange home-cooked dishes as photographic masterpieces is to arrange them on white plates. The colors appear more intense on white dishes. Wood, a slate or a placemat form a beautiful surface. Arrange the dishes according to the principle “less is more” and make sure that they are arranged calmly.

When shooting – also in the restaurant – it should be bright enough. However, do not flash, use daylight if possible or use a second light source. But then think about the white balance! Get close to the subject and take pictures at an angle from above at a 45-degree angle so that the surfaces of the dishes reflect the light. Take multiple photos. Cut the plate for more dynamics.

This is how the treats work

Food photos need stronger colors and contrasts via an app like Snapseed. Or you can shoot the pictures directly with a camera app like Foodie that specializes in food photos. It optimizes colors and depth of field with filters.

Minimize noise

In low light, cell phone cameras increase sensitivity to light. This increases the image noise. So that the unsightly grain is not so noticeable, the software ironed the wrong-colored pixels in the cell phone, causing motif details to be lost. Image noise can already be reduced during the recording.

As much light as possible: Use the basic rule “more light – less noise” by selecting the image section so that as many bright areas as possible are captured.

Ensure bright parts of the picture: If possible, place your motif in front of bright areas. Lighter outfits are ideal. Use light sources in the area, such as lanterns, spotlights or large windows, which illuminate the subject from the front and therefore with little shadow.

Tripod and self-timer: If your phone offers manual camera settings, choose a low ISO value. The app adjusts the exposure time so that the shots are successful. Then use a tripod or a flat surface and the self-timer.

Portrait shots like in the photo studio

Take great portraits with your smartphone. The technology is so far that it automatically recognizes faces and stages them well.

The multiple cameras on the back of newer mobile phone models can recognize the outlines of people and sometimes even dogs and cats in the “portrait” recording mode. This allows portraits to be created with an appealing blurring effect that is otherwise reserved for purely high-quality lenses. The background of the photo is thus blurred, the face itself appears all the clearer.

Take a portrait:

Use the main camera on the back of the phone for the best possible picture quality. Activate the “Portrait” mode in your camera app. If you don’t see this mode, try another app or play with the bezel for more blur.

Set options:

Use the on-screen menu or icons to set options depending on the app and mobile phone. You can then choose from embellishment options and modes for natural light, studio light or black and white portraits. The modes differ in how the foreground is lightened and the background blurred.

Trigger correctly:

Aim at the person. If the focus is not automatically placed on the face, tap it on the display. Touch the release button to take photos.

Enhance portrait:

The depth of field of portraits can be adjusted in some camera apps according to your wishes after the shot.

This is how good photos succeed in low light

In poor lighting conditions, your smartphone often delivers blurry or too dark pictures. The photos get better with simple means. Light is important for photography. But at dusk, by candlelight or in dark rooms, the amount of light is limited. How to make usable pictures anyway:

  1. Mobile phone photos with flash are often not very flattering, since the flash LED illuminates the subject hard from the front. Try out whether the pictures work better with an additional light source.

  2. The night or night shot mode in the camera app specializes in long exposure shots. Activate the mode so that the phone collects more light in poor lighting – possibly also with a tripod.

  3. Keep the smartphone steady. Freehand photography in low light is usually problematic. Find a pad, such as a tree trunk or a wall, that you can lean on.

  4. If the camera app on your phone allows manual recording parameters, you can reduce the risk of camera shake with a higher ISO value. However, this increases the image noise. Alternatively, set a longer exposure time or a more open aperture (smaller value).

  5. Always take several photos for safety in low light conditions.


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