Guide to Taking Good Photos on Your Windows Mobile Phone

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The built-in camera of your WinMo phone has one advantage over your digital camera, it is always with you, by that I simply mean it’s available and often accessible very quickly. Alas, this is the only advantage over most traditional digital cameras. In all other aspects even the cheapest digital photo camera will beat a built-in camera of a mobile phone or a PDA.

Nevertheless, sometimes a low-quality shot is better than no shot at all, so a built-in camera that is easily accessible does have it’s advantage, in fact, this is why the phones/PDAs/communicators all come equipped with a camera. And with some basic techniques and a good built-in camera (like the one in the HTC Touch Diamond 2) you can still manage some decenely good pictures

With that being said keep reading to learn some useful tips that can help your shots turn out better than expected.

Target, Clean, Compose and Shoot

Before taking a picture the user should make sure that the lens is clean! As a rule, communicators don’t have any protective lids on the lens in most cases and therefore are sometimes quite dirty. Keeping a microfiber cloth on hand can help you clean it before shooting. After cleaning the lens you can then target. By targeting I mean decide exact what you want the “focus” of your shot to include. Choose the position and angle (if time and situation allows). Remember, sometimes “what” is still more important than “how”.

Then when composing a picture, remember not to mix very bright and very dark objects in one picture. As we are talking about small weak cameras which can’t handle a large mixture of drastically different colors.

Details Do Not Matter

Do not try to keep the unnecessary details in the picture since they probably won’t show up. Even if the resolution is absolutely adequate and the matrix of the camera is good the lens will still not be able to provide sufficient sharpness. So try to concentrate on larger objects, specifically bright-colored ones in most situations. You are not going to impress the audience with crisp and technically perfect masterpieces, so rely on the “emotional” effect. If you take a picture of a cat it will not really matter to anyone if each small spot on it’s fur is shown as long as the whole cat looks good as a whole.

Free Focus Is No Focus

Focus! Focus is important, in most cases you will want to focus on something you want to “highlight” then there is the question of whether your camera offers auto-focus or focus on a given area. If your camera has no auto-focus (it is a free-focus camera) then read the manual for the phone, the optimal distance of shooting should be mentioned in the manual. Stick to the suggested shooting distances when possible. At all other distances the objects will not be sharp at all. Of course, you can “sharpen” them in Photoshop later, but we want the quality of our shot to be as high as possible immediately after we take it.

With the auto-focus, however, just make sure you focus on what YOU want, not what your auto-focus wants.

And remember - the camera of your phone or PDA is not suitable in most cases for shooting fast-moving objects. Even if there is some “sport mode” setting in the camera do not rely on it too much. Try to shoot only still scenes with minimum motion. Even a branch being moved by wind can spoil your picture with a vast “motion-blurred” area.

Light it up

The resolution (“mega pixels”) of a camera plays a secondary role in the quality of a shot, if not tertiary. The “number one” aspect is the lens – and the lenses of the built-in cameras are small and cheap compared with digital cameras, and thus we will have problems with lighting – the pictures are too dark in most cases since a lot of light misses the matrix of the camera. The compact lens also means low luminosity and you have to simply live with that fact. You can hhowever increase the matrix’s light sensitivity, but it can lead to a problem with “noise”, which is even more difficult to cope with. Some of the PDAs allow alteration of exposure time and for those cases you need to learn to use it. If not, there are of course some rules to follow:

  1. Get closer. The closer you are, the more light that will come into the lens, the more light better.
  2. Use a light source – a lamp, car’s lights or a flashlight.
  3. The time of exposure will be significant in any case so try to do your best to hold the camera still while it takes the shot. If you have to, try putting it firmly on an object to hold it still. Also keep in mind blinks and flashes as you will also want to avoid them, otherwise you’ll have a disgusting white spot on your picture.

Never, Ever Use The Zoom Function

Yes, just like that – do NOT use the zoom if there is any way to avoid it.

There are two kinds of zoom – optical and digital. The first one makes the scene you shoot become “closer” by narrowing the field of vision, and that means less light for the lens and also eats away the sharpness of the picture. The “digital zoom” is actually not a zoom at all; the camera just crops a part of the picture and stretches it to full screen. So we have less light and less resolution, thus less sharpness altogether.

I need to stress again – try your utmost to avoid using optical zooming and NEVER use the digital zoom. It was invented as another item in the list of features by marketing departments, not engineering departments, basically digital zoom is useless.

White As Snow

There is a feature known as “white balance” present in all modern phone cameras. Use it, and properly. It will correct the appearance of colors in your picture and vise versa – if you forget to correct it then it will make the colors strange and not lively. At least set it to “auto”, but it’s better to adjust it according to the surrounding light – daylight, luminescent lamps, incandescent lamps, foggy day, bright sun etc

Putting It All Together

So here’s what we have in short: Clean the lens, use less movement, shoot with more light, focus on less details, don’t touch the zoom option and find more light again. Then white balance if time allows, target your shot, compose it and finally shoot.

Know that the sophisticated digital cameras are superior to your small built-in camera in all fields, except one, availability and readiness.

And remember, some pictures taken by lousy mobile phone cameras by an amateur with shaking hands have brought thousands of dollars to their authors just because there were no other shots of the events witnessed.

So mind the hints of this article and go out make good pictures.

Good hunting!