Introduction: How to Take Half Decent Pictures With Your Phone.

Picture of How to Take Half Decent Pictures With Your Phone.

A phone camera is not the most capable of cameras with their tiny apertures and fixed focus but there's no need to take terrible pictures, this instructable is here to help fix that little issue...

It also applies to webcams to some extent...

There has been a plague lately of very poor pictures on instructables and the excuse being they were using a phone...

Thanks to Anarchistasian, he gave me the idea after saying about an 'ible where I was forced to use a phone camera by the theft of the old one, so thanks again you mad asian...

Step 1: Light Light Light.

Picture of Light Light Light.

These little cameras have tiny apertures, as said, this means that darkness doesn't do well. Couple that with a pretty weak sensor and you've got to be working hard to get a decent picture.

So to help with this:

- When possible take pictures outdoors on nice days, always better.
- Use a white background, to help reflect light in, unless you have a white object then use a coloured or dark surround.
- When using artificial light find a bright place in the room and make it diffused since they don't deal well with glare.

Remember that the light should be hitting them, if it comes from behind the subject you'll likely end up with a silhouette

below are examples of not enough light and proper light, I'll do this for each step, to help show how much the differences can be...

Step 2: Funny Coloured?

Picture of Funny Coloured?

You should just use the auto for general phototaking outside, it has a habit of not changing for indoor lighting, go through each one, looking for the right setting, it probably wont be the one for the lights your using, that's why you look for the one that's right.

Also look for ones that take the best advantage of lighting and have the least graininess, also look out for ones that look nice despite having off colours, arty shots can go down well...

Step 3: Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture...

Picture of Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture...

Now since they're so small and not very interested in light they have a habit of being very slow with the shutter, to combat this problem you'll need to be steady...

So take the phone in your hand in the best way to take a picture, usually landscape works well, now you need to brace against something like say, A wall.

Tables are good aswell, basically push gently against the object while you're taking your photo, to help eliminate camera shake, or with small things simply set the phone on the table and hold it up while taking the photos.

Your other option for standing shots is to simply tie a string around the phone in a non obtrusive way and stand on the other end while pulling gently, creating a tripod sort of contraption.

If you do get the shot wrong the first time try it again, it's just lazy not to.

Step 4: Macro You Say?

Picture of Macro You Say?

Now not many phones have a macro function, only some of the ones with proper camera crammed in to their straining innards...

For the likes of instructables the images are displayed at 500 X 335, now the bog standard phone cameras are mostly 2.0 megapixel which comes out at 1600 X 1200.

See where I'm going with this, though you can't get the phone to focus up close you can crop the image to show what you want at normal size on 'ibles, since they make the images smaller when you upload...

So take the picture at a distance it can focus at, so the shot you actually want fills the middle well or at least a fifth of the screen.

your other option is to use a magnifying lens like the many instructables about the place, that way you can get pretty impressive close ups if you learn to use it right, even with just a magnifying glass it can be done...

Step 5: Tidying Photos Up After You Take Them.

Picture of Tidying Photos Up After You Take Them.

Once you've committed the photos to the phone memory you can tidy them up on your computer later, with the likes of photoshop or the GIMP.

Things you can do to help include:

- Adjusting the levels, if people are sketchy on this one leave a few comments and I'll make an instructable about doing so.
- Adjusting contrast, to help give images better definition.
- Removing noise, either in program or you could use a freeware program like neat image.
- Adjusting brightness, to help with glare etc, levels will also help with this
- Cropping, to cut down unneeded or unwanted bits of images
- Removing background, to bring focus to the object, this could also be done in other ways.

Most of all having a bit of wit while taking phone photos instead of just abandoning hope of them being decent.


nae1701 (author)2015-01-27

took this pic with an LG Viewty believe it or not. no fancy pants tripods or anything

djr6789 (author)2009-09-09

duuuude we have the same phone (H)

sharlston (author)2009-06-15

is that a solder or a wire spool in the background of the first pic

Solder spool... Why?

it just looks like a spool of some sort

Well solder just looks like shiny wire, I am failing to see the importance of what's on the spool...

arpeli (author)2009-03-19

Correct me if i´m wrong: It's not about how many megapixels u have in your cameraphone, the lens-quality is the one which makes the difference. Megapixels are the maximum resolutin of the photo taken. For example some cameraphones (like newer nokias) have the CarlZeiss-lens and you really can't compare two phones with CarlZeiss 3,2mp and some other 3,2mp phone can you? My brother has Nokia n95 and i do have Nokia N73. We made a little test: -Same object to shoot picture of (an old colourful painting on our window, bright daylight) -Same length to the painting (about 1 meter, with macro-function) -No flash (u cant compare n73 and n95 flashes 'cause n95 has a real one, not led) -Printed to photographpaper with Hp Photosmart B9180-printer Result was that u can't see the difference between photos!! Of course the difference will be notable when u zoom fhotos with your computer, but if printed to 10x15cm photopaper... And for a tip: If your camera has delaytimer, set it to 1-2 seconds and take the photo. It'll help u to keep your cameraphone more still!! I'm using it all the time with my photos! Sorry my bad english, i'm from Finland myself ;)

killerjackalope (author)arpeli2009-03-23

Lens quality and construction does play a bigger part in the way image ends up on phones usually, I have an old canon A60 which has a great lens but only 2MP it still takes great photos, as a comparison between that and my cheap little tesco camera which was higher megapixels but rubbishy fixed lens, so it took poor photos. The point about the delay timer is good, something that's good with longer exposures and anything that requires delicacy..

agdollison (author)2008-08-05

how many mega pixels is camera phone

Two... Most phones have either a 2.0Mp camera or a 1.3Mp camera, the 1,3's can be better sometimes because they have more light hitting each pixel...

Bartboy (author)killerjackalope2008-08-24

My 35 mm camera is better than any digital one anyone will ever own! (today)

killerjackalope (author)Bartboy2008-08-24

Umm nope, there are camera that are of a higher resolution than the grain of 35mm film, granted they're massive and could be used to print on the side of houses...

Bartboy (author)killerjackalope2008-08-25

yeah, but I meant anyone on instructables yesterday.

killerjackalope (author)Bartboy2008-08-25

All the same 6.0 MP will give a similar quality with most low and standard quality film grains, it's just that pixels are a lot more obvious to the eye than a natural grain.

Bartboy (author)killerjackalope2008-08-26

6.00 Mp is the same as 35 mm? NO WAY. my 7 MP is nowhere near as good as my dads 35 mm

evanwehrer (author)Bartboy2008-12-16

Try 14 mega pixels.

Bartboy (author)evanwehrer2008-12-16

35 mm = about 25 mp

LG Dare has a 3.2 its insane. But it really depends on the phone.

The nokia N95 has a 5MP camera

evanwehrer (author)evanwehrer2008-12-16

oops. already said

Oh aye, it's good, my bro has a Nokia N95, 5.0MP in a phone, the LG Viewty is the same aswell, all just dependant on the phone and stuff, I had an old 1.3MP sharp and the camera was good on it, not high res but it worked well...

right, my friends dad has one that takes better pictures than their digital.

Yeah there's sonys, nokias and LGs all with 5.0MP cameras and they're great... Last time we were at a concert my friend took great photos of the band with his, and on new years...

yeah, there cheap now too, companies have sales all the time, they just want you to pay for all the features, my mom got one for 8 bucks...

Spectrace (author)Deltaforce25552008-08-05

Yeah the LG Dare camera is insane. Its really good quality and the flash is really nice. Only problem is that it doesnt save your settings :(

codester (author)killerjackalope2008-08-12

It depends. Most of the ones today are 2.0 MP. But a lot of the older ones are less.

killerjackalope (author)codester2008-08-12

Aye but since the 2.0's came out it's probably the most common camera in phones at the moment...

codester (author)killerjackalope2008-08-12



Why? wondering about your own phone or something...

Kiteman (author)2008-08-06

LOL, when I bought my "proper" digital camera, it was best in its class, with a wonderful 10x optical zoom and another 4x digital, and the fastest off-to-photo time on the market (a touch under 2 seconds with fresh batteries).

Five years ago.

Now my pupils' phones have chips over twice the size, three times as sensitive, for a fifth the price.

My camera still works perfectly, and I'm not planning on replacing it, but my choice is reduced anyway, because so many similar cameras don't have viewfinders, which I much prefer to use.

hedgiehog (author)Kiteman2008-08-06

my dad is still using the camera his work bought him, it uses floppy disks, takes almost a minute to take a picture. But it still takes fairly good pictures, but of course it now weighs almost the same as his new laptop.

evanwehrer (author)hedgiehog2008-12-16


killerjackalope (author)Kiteman2008-08-06

Aye for a while I was using the little canon powershot A60, same res as the phone images but with optical lens and a bigger sensor it was far better... Though those super phones appearing have big sensors in terms of resolution they tend to fall down next to a real camera because the sensors are physically smaller, as is most of the camera stuff, making it less capable of picking up light, however the phone ones are almost always a lot faster than top of the range camera because they have the spare processing power... My suggestion for when the day comes would be a look around the creative compacts market, starting at about £120 and up to around £300 they look like baby SLR's have good lenses viewfinders and tend to be well made. The one I got recently (Olympus SP-560UZ) has an 18X zoom, 8.0MP and loads of features like super macro, it automatically zooms the lens a bit and gives you insane levels of detail, good get around for the autofocus drawbacks of today... All that for £200

my mom used to be a photographer, she still has her $2000 camera, so i'm all set if i need good photos. ($2000, or 3000 euros)

Bartboy (author)AnarchistAsian2008-08-24

My uncle had a camera that is a scenery camera thats 50 years old, Weighs 1.2 tons and it does not exist even according to Wikipidiea

AnarchistAsian (author)Bartboy2008-08-24

damn... if he sold it to a museum, he could've made lots of money... *i think*

oops!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i meant $2000, or like 1200 euros, something like that...

PKM (author)killerjackalope2008-08-06
The camera my school tech department had when I was doing GCSEs (2000 - 2002) had
  • no zoom, optical or otherwise
  • terrible contrast, optics and basically everything else
  • weighed half as much as I do
  • took about 2-3 seconds to take a photo in good lighting, and a further 5ish to save it, because it...
  • had an internal floppy disk drive (no fancy-pants flash memory in them days) which could store eleven of the 1024*768 photos it took.

If you held the thing really gently, you could feel it rock in your hands from the torque of it spinning up the floppy to save a photo... happy days.

KJ, I was incredibly pleased when I discovered super macro on my Olympus- a 2p coin in absurdly sharp focus fills the entire frame :)
killerjackalope (author)PKM2008-08-06

Aye we had one that used to tick wildly and judder despite the flash memory... That super macro is great, so much fun...

AnarchistAsian (author)Kiteman2008-08-07

your a teacher?

Kiteman (author)AnarchistAsian2008-08-07

Isn't the word "pupils" a clue?

AnarchistAsian (author)Kiteman2008-08-07

just curious...

Kiteman (author)AnarchistAsian2008-08-08


AnarchistAsian (author)Kiteman2008-08-08

what do you teach? (i'm guessing science) my dad's a professor, he teaches physics... one time, we tested conductivity with a stun gun for science fair, it was sooo cool.

AnarchistAsian (author)2008-08-06

you forgot to send me a link! ps - could you make me a collaborator? i gave you the idea (or at least i think i did) and don't have time right now to make (good) instructables.

Sorry I forgot to add the bit accrediting you for giving me the idea... Tahnks for reminding me.

am i a collaborator or credited? -thanks for listening

had to go to work, editing now...

"so thanks again, you mad Asian" hmmm... excellent!

About This Instructable




Bio: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
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