Over the last few weeks, I’ve been testing out the LG G4, a new cell phone that has a great camera with some unique features usually only found on DSLR cameras. AT&T sent me one to review and asked me to share some cell phone photography tips. All the photos in this post were taken with the G4 on my recent trip to Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
While I’m in love with my Nikon D5100 DSLR camera, and I use it to take the majority of photos I share on this blog, social media is a different story. More than 90% of the photos I share on Facebook (and 99.9% on Instagram!) were taken with my phone. It’s very important to me that I capture the best quality images on my cell phone.
I know I’m not alone–as cell phone cameras have improved, more and more people take most (or all!) of their everyday photos on their phone. Do you?
Want to take better photos with your phone? Here are some cell phone photography tips for whatever phone you use:
- Use natural light: Never, never, ever use the built in flash. The quality and placement of LED camera phone flashes is terrible and it almost never makes anything better. This is especially important with food photos where frontal flash flattens the image and makes it much less appetizing. Take advantage of natural light whenever you can, and where there is less light, use the shadows to create interesting patterns and compositions.
- Hold. It. Still: Set the camera down or press it against something stable (a table, wall, tree) whenever you can, especially in lower light conditions and indoors. Hold your breath while you shoot. If your photo offers voice-activated shooting, use that to trigger the photo without pressing the button, which always shakes the camera a little.
- Edit your photos before sharing them: Almost any photo can benefit from doing a few simple edits, like straightening the horizon line, increasing the brightness, contrast, white balance, and saturation. You can use a cell phone app like Snapseed or even the advanced editing tools that are now built into Instagram.
- Understand your phone’s limitations: As fast as camera phone technology is advancing, shooting in the dark is still very challenging for most cell phones. After dark, it’s almost impossible to take a good camera phone photo, so save your efforts for dawn to dusk. Also, very bright light and shooting directly into the sun is hard for cell phones, too. Watch out for sun flares–the bright white overblown areas and colored streaks caused by shooting directly into the sun (see below). Sometimes they look interesting, but most of the time they ruin the shot
While these tips apply whatever cell phone you are using, there are some cool features in the new LG G4 camera that help to fix some of these challenges.
Things I like about the LG G4 camera:
- Exceptional low-light capability: The LG G4 was the first cell phone camera in the US to have an f/1.8 aperture, photo-speak for a super-fast shutter speed because a wide aperture lets in more light. This is great for sunsets and night shots indoors, restaurants, etc. Low light indoor photos are surprisingly bright and well-balanced without the ugly grain (noise) that makes most other cell phone and even point + shoot cameras virtually unusable past dusk.
- Professional features: (This gets a little jargony, but DSLR users will think these are awesome!) The main rear camera of the LG G4 shoots 18 Megapixel RAW (!) files, so you capture extremely high-quality photos that can be edited more than the standard compressed .jpg files on other cameras. The f/1.8 aperture is amazing, allowing you to do really cool shots with a shallow depth of focus. The camera also has a fully Manual mode, where you can control the shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and more. The histogram display lets you monitor the light levels of the photo as you shoot.
- Lots of storage space: One of the worst things about shooting travel photos with your phone is when the meager storage space fills up. The LG G4 has 32GB internal memory, expandable to 2 Terabytes with a MicroSD card (sold separately). This would be great if you didn’t want to worry about filling up your memory on a trip or want to maintain large numbers (months and years!) of photos on your phone.
- Improved “selfie cam”: (While I don’t use these features often, selfie addicts will love this!) The 8 Megapixel front facing camera is as high quality as some phones main (rear) camera. The camera also has voice-activated shooting so you can say a programmed word to trigger the shot, instead of trying to squirm around to press the button.
Enter to win an LG G4!
ATT is currently hosting the LGG4 4K Seconds Sweepstakes. For the duration of the contest, they are giving away one LGG4 every 4K seconds (or 66 minutes) for 23 days, totaling 500 phones!
Here’s what you need to do to win:
- Register at http://4kseconds.att.com/
- Upload a picture you’ve taken using your phone. This can be done from a mobile device, tablet or computer. Images need to be .jpg or .png and less than 1 MB.
Here’s the small print: All submitted photos will also be housed on a gallery on the sweepstakes website. These will be open to public voting in order to determine a public appeal score. The photos will also be judged by a panel of judges. The photo with the highest combination score from the judges and public appeal will be deemed the Grand Prize Winner and will receive a 55” Class Smart Curved 4K OLED 3D TV with webOS 2.0 and a 3D-Blu-Ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers. The second and third highest ranked photos will be deemed the First and Second Prize Winner. These winners will receive a 65” Class IPS 4K UHD Smart LED TV with webOS 2.0 and 3D-Capable Blu-ray Disc Home Theatre System with Smart TV and Wireless Speakers. The winners will be announced upon completion of the Judging Period, which ends July 9th.
Thanks to AT&T for sponsoring this post and offering this contest. Good luck, friends!