I adore the convenience of having my smartphone also be my primary camera. Advances in digital technology mean I can take an endless number of amazing, high quality pictures using just my smartphone—something I never could have imagined back when I was still buying flash bulbs and rolls of film at the drugstore!
These days, if you’re shopping for a new smartphone, it means you’re also shopping for a new camera. Here are a few key things to look for to make sure you’re getting all the features you’ll need to take memorable photos.
Megapixels are the unit of measurement for a camera’s graphic resolution. Simply put, the more megapixels your camera has, the higher its image clarity will be. While lower megapixels (or MP) may be fine for some basic shots, the image will appear “pixelated”—that is, blocky and fuzzy—if you print or enlarge it. You will find a huge difference among smartphone cameras. Some basic models, for instance, offer 5MP cameras, while the latest iPhones come with 12MP cameras.
Having a flash option will afford more control over your photo quality. It helps you take better pictures in darker environments, and at night. Some newer phones even offer a dual flash, meaning that both the rear-facing “traditional” camera and the front-facing “selfie” camera offer better lighting. For “selfies,” the result can be much nicer portraits featuring more natural looking skin tone.
HDR stands for “high dynamic range.” It’s a setting that helps you get the right exposure. An HDR image blends three photos of the same scene, each taken at different shutter speeds. The camera’s software combines a bright, medium, and dark image to create a finished product with the perfect amount of detail, shadows, and highlights. The great thing is, HDR is becoming a standard feature with most smartphone cameras.
There are add-on features that will improve your camera quality, as well. Many models now include a panorama setting, which creates sweeping, unbroken images of a large area or scene. iPhone models come with the live photo option, to convert still pictures into short animations. You’ll also find a wide variety of built-in photo editing software, including filters, which let you digitally alter the appearance of your photo in a few quick steps.
Any smartphone camera is truly wonderful for letting you easily capture photos whenever and wherever you want. But the features discussed here provide the tools you need to go from simply taking good pictures to taking great ones.