4 ways smartphone cameras have gotten better

Chances are, you can’t afford the latest and greatest thousand dollar smartphone, and you’ll have to compromise when it comes to the camera and smartphone features. Learn from my mistakes. Here are four modern features of smartphone cameras.

Smartphone photography is now in the hands of almost everyone, and even if you don’t have a dedicated camera, I bet you have thousands of photos stored in your gallery. With so many different brands and models, it’s hard to know who does what when it comes to the best smartphone camera experience. So when my old Google Pixel 2 broke earlier this year, I had to do a side-swap with a poorer smartphone, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, and with it I lost some of my favorite features. in a smartphone camera. So don’t make the same mistake I did. Heed my warning and make sure your next smartphone has the features listed below.


One of the main disadvantages of shooting with a smartphone camera is that they inherently have wide angle lenses. A wide angle lens has specific characteristics associated with it due to the physical way light travels in space. The first problem is that wide-angle lenses offer greater depth of field than those with longer focal lengths, making it difficult to successfully isolate subjects from backgrounds. However, many smartphones now have depth-of-field software that intelligently scans a scene and cuts out a subject before artificially blurring the background.

Most of the more expensive and newer models do this successfully, but it never works as accurately as results from true depth of field. This is why a telephoto lens would be so useful, because the longer the focal length, the more the depth of field is naturally reduced. Some smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and Huawei P40 Pro Plus, actually have physical telephoto lenses, and that’s great because they allow you to isolate subjects and flatten facial features at higher settings. complementary. But these have yet to reach many smartphone cameras on the market, and cheaper options are hard to find.

Ultra wide angle lens

My smartphone, the Huawei Mate 20 Lite, has a 27mm equivalent lens. It’s fine for a few shots every now and then, but quite often I find myself having to take several steps back to fit whatever I want. Unfortunately, it’s a wide angle lens but not wide enough to be useful.

The iPhone 11 Pro has a 13mm ultra wide angle lens (equivalent) to further adapt to the scene. If I had something wider, even something like an 18mm equivalent lens, then I could crop my subject if it was too wide but also have the fold of being able to compose wide scenes more easily. 27mm is a bit of an intermediate focal length for me, not long enough to be useful but not wide enough to really capture wide landscapes either. I realize we can get third-party lenses for smartphones, but I’ve never found one that I like (they take too long to set up or don’t line up properly with the lens) .

Quick start-up time

A quick camera start-up time is essential for capturing the moments as they unfold. Since I always have my smartphone in my pocket, it’s usually the only camera I have with me to go about my daily business, so it’s more likely to be the one I use when I stumble upon something. interesting thing, a fleeting moment never to be repeated. Because of this, I get more and more frustrated when I open the camera and have to wait 4-5 seconds before the screen appears and I can take a photo. My old Google Pixel 2 was much better in this regard, so keep that in mind when looking for a smartphone that doubles as a camera, especially if you want to capture street or wildlife photographs, where subjects can. appear and disappear in an instant.

Precise autofocus

The other thing that bothers me beyond belief is the slow and imprecise autofocus. Sometimes I will need to physically locate the autofocus point on the screen to focus on my subject. Even when I have a subject that fills the fairly obvious frame in front of me, the smartphone refuses to focus, to the point where I have to place my whole hand in the frame at the exact distance where the subject is away from the frame. camera and then quickly remove my hand before taking the picture. It’s a workaround that works a bit, but I have other issues like exposure issues, poor white balance, and the risk that the phone will refocus as soon as I remove my hand.

Bonus: Separate zoom controller

By that I mean a physical controller that controls the ability to zoom in and out. Often times when I press the zoom function on my current smartphone I have to slide it up and down to get the right zoom level, but due to the user interface I often overdo it and have to spend some time tweaking this. Alternatively, I could crop afterwards, but it’s good that the display on the screen looks nice and large, as it helps with composition by making it easier to see. With a separate controller for the zoom (or even a toggle switch on the smartphone), I would be able to pull the zoom faster and more accurately. Provided the controller is done right, that would also make it smoother when shooting video.


Another way to read the complaints I have with my smartphone here is actually a “what to look for in a smartphone camera” list. These features would be absolutely invaluable for photographers who want to take more photos on their smartphones and especially for those who haven’t upgraded their phones in many years or maybe never, especially if you want to work on a budget. tight and you’re not ready to deposit $ 1,000 on the latest iPhone or something similar.

There are smartphones with great cameras and photographic features at an affordable price, such as the Google Pixel 4a (just make sure you get the 4G version or you’ll end up paying more). The above features that I have found irreplaceable, however, so you should be sure to check out the reviews and video footage of the smartphone cameras you use, unless you have the opportunity to try them out in person.

Of all the features I have listed above, I would say that a zoom remote is probably the least important, as a smartphone that quickly snaps the camera and focuses precisely will make the difference between a moment that passes and a moment captured. Telephoto lenses would also benefit those who enjoy taking portraits or even close-ups of insects and other wildlife, as they will reach farther and provide a flattering compressed perspective.

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About William Moorhead

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