Brief:- Manual camera controls can change the way you capture the images using your smartphone. It will give you a lot more flexibility. Manual camera controls have been there from quite some time.
Smartphone cameras have improved a lot in the past couple of years. Whether it’s the pixel count or camera sensor itself all aspects of the smartphone camera have seen significant improvements in these years. And coupled with today’s powerful Image Signal Processors, they are capable enough to click images comparable to DSLR cameras .
To click some decent pictures from any smartphone, you need both a decent sensor and also a better application to ensure that the images comes out as you want them to. If you don’t have a decent camera in your smartphone, then there is not much an application can do. But if you don’t have a capable sensor in your smartphone, then this blog is for you.
Check your smartphone has manual controls capability.
To use the manual camera controls on your smartphone you will need to have Camera2Api enabled in your smartphone. To ensure that you will need to download the following application. Once downloaded open this application and it will tell you if the Camera2Api is working or not.
Doing the camera settings manually gives you a greater amount of control over how the image comes out to be. It may seem intimidating at first but eventually, get the hang of it. After checking that your smartphone has camera2 API enabled, then you need to download an application that supports manual camera controls. I recommend using:-
Camera FV-5 Lite
Camera FV-5 Lite is a free application that you can download from the play store it offers you a lot of features. For all of those using point and shoot cameras will find it quite messy. Because there are a lot of controls that you can change to fine tune the image captured. All these manual camera controls will take time to get used to.
Now let’s take a look at the settings that you can change to get the most out of your camera sensor.
Focal length helps you in focusing on a subject. Most of the smartphones in the market come with auto-focus functionality. But that autofocus doesn’t give you the best results. And even if you don’t do manual focus at least don’t forget to tap on the subject. It will result in a much sharper image. With, manual focus you can particularly focus on the subject you desire to focus on.
It is useful when the subject you are trying to focus on is small. Thus, your autofocus isn’t able to focus properly on it. Then you can focus manually on it. Or when the subject is quite close to you then also it gets difficult for autofocus to focus correctly. In such instances, manual camera is important. And Focus is one of the most simple and easy to understand manual camera control.
ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization. It is an organization that sets international standards for different measurements. ISO of a camera sensor represents its sensitivity to the light. Using manual camera controls in a smartphone enables you to change this ISO setting.
Setting it low will lower its sensitivity to light. Thus it will take more time to capture the light. And you will have to compensate for this either by slowing the shutter speed or by widening the aperture, thus allowing more light to fall on the sensor. For, smartphones it’s not possible to widen the aperture manually so you need to compensate for it by reducing the shutter speed.
The camera lens of a smartphone has a tiny shutter over it. The shutter speed changes the speed of that shutter. Changing the shutter speed can completely change the image that you have captured. Lowering the shutter speed will increase the time it takes for the camera shutter to close, thus resulting in more light captured by the camera sensor. When using low shutter speed you need to keep the ISO low as well. But setting it too low. On the other hand if it fast then there won’t be motion blur in the image and the image captured will be sharper.
Play with lightning
The amount of light falling on your subject can make a lot of difference in the image you capture. Thus, you need to be aware of the amount of light present in your environment. Not only the amount of light but the direction of lighting makes a large impact on the image quality. Thus you may need to click the picture from various angles and positions. You can keep the one that depicts your subject best and delete the rest of them later.
More often than not your first image won’t be the best. So always click as many pictures as possible and later choose the best ones to keep and discard the rest. And to click as many pictures as possible you need to have enough storage with you. You can keep spare memory cards with you just in case you run out of storage. As the pictures captured by modern smartphones take up a lot of storage.
Capture in RAW
One other interesting feature that comes with using a manual camera, is the ability to capture the image in RAW format. RAW images like raw vegetables and fruits need you to process them later. These images contain a high level of detail. But you would need to process it later, using a raw image editor. There are various free applications available directly on Google Play store which you can use to process these RAW images.
But remember raw images could be a lot larger than JPEG images. As the amount of data captured while capturing RAW image is so much larger than JPEG, this results in a larger file size. So you may not always want to capture in raw if you don’t want to edit them later. But if you can spend some time editing the images later, then you can have the images a lot better. Once you will see the difference that it makes you will want to always capture images in raw.
Let’s take a look at the benefits of capturing raw:-
- Get better detail:- The algorithms used in your smartphones to post-process the captured image isn’t always the best. So when you post-process the images captured in raw in software such as Lightroom. You can take advantage of the better algorithm to get a sharper image. And you can always get a little creative with the images.
- Non-destructive editing:- Editing done in software such as Lightroom and DarkTable is non-destructive. They make no changes to the original RAW image while editing the image, rather it will create a new file that contains all the instructions that are used to process the RAW image. So if in the case in future you need to edit it again you can start with the original.
- Record greater levels of brightness:- The number of brightness levels in a raw image is more than that of a JPEG image. JPEG uses 8 bits of data to store brightness levels. While raw can use 12-14 bits of data. Thus JPEG only offers only 256 brightness levels while RAW can offer as much as 16384 distinct brightness levels.
Practice As Much You Can
Well, honestly in the beginning, images can come out looking a little crappy some will be overexposed then some will be underexposed. But it all comes down to practicing it regularly. Try different combinations of ISO and shutter speed during different lighting conditions. And see what works best for different lighting settings. Based on the lighting on your subject change your position don’t let your camera do all the work try different positions to capture the object in the best way possible. Play with it as much as you can. And soon enough you will start seeing the results.