Mobile Phone Photography

Update: This post was originally posted on 30th August 2020 but after changing my website this post had to be re-published due to technical issues.

As I’ve mentioned in my first post about why I took up photography I still use my phone to take photos, but mostly of my daughter. Getting those quick shoots of her ever fleeting childhood is so important to me. However, I will admit to normally just shooting these moments in automatic and letting the camera in the phone deciding what the settings should be.

However, that being said you can control the settings of your camera in your phone, in fact when I am not just wanting to catch a quick moment of my daughter I will try using the controls to change the settings to what I want them to be. With varying degrees of success but generally it is rare I use my phone camera to capture anything but my daughter.

Now in my opinion the camera on a phone will never beat using an actual camera whether that is a point and shoot, bridge, DSLR or mirrorless. But you can never beat the convince of the camera in your phone as you will not always have your actual camera on you, however, there will not be many times that you do not have your phone with you.

So with this in mind I decided to go out one day only armed with my mobile and took some photos, and here is not only how I changed my settings but also the resulting photos.

The Phone

I currently have a Samsung A40 and find it has a reasonable camera although I will say not as responsive as some phone cameras is still a reasonable enough camera. To take the phone off the automatic settings I open the camera and scroll along to the "more" option. From there I select the "Pro" option where I can change the ISO, shutter speed and even increase or decrease the exposure.

All phone cameras to the best of my knowledge have this but may call it something different so if you have a look at your phone I'm sure you'll find it.

The Weather

The particular day I chose was a beautifully sunny day with some clouds in the sky, and there was a brisk breeze coming of the river Forth. But it was nice enough for my daughter and myself to decide to take a walk (well I walked she took her scooter) along to the near by nature reserve with a picnic.

The Settings

With it being so sunny I set the ISO to 400 but I unintentionally set the exposure to +0.3 so that lightened the photos slightly but thankfully not enough to be noticeable this time. Due to the wind I set the shutter speed to 1/14925 and 1/14085 seconds this in hindsight wasn't really necessary as I could have left it on the auto setting and the camera would have adjusted.

But with my phone I am slightly a fish out of water as I am so used to setting my Fujifilm XT-3. But it was enjoyable having to think about my settings on the phone.

The Photos

In the end I only took a couple of photos as my daughter wouldn't stand still long enough for me to take any more. I've entered the actual settings of each photo below them so you can see what each was taken at.

F-Stop 1.7, Shutter Speed 1/14925 seconds, ISO 400, Exposure +0.3

F=Stop 1.7, Shutter Speed 1/14085 seconds, ISO 400, Exposure +0.3


There is no denying the convince of the camera in the phone and changing the settings are very easy to do. And the photos came out better than I expected them to, although the second one would have been better had the exposure not been knocked up by accident.

And if I had realized when I was just taking up photography how much you can really do with the camera on your phone I would have possibly stayed with it longer. Although for me my point and shoot was a birthday present and the bridge camera I used I commandeered off my parents who weren't using it at the time. So if anyone asked me about getting a camera now I would recommend playing with the "Pro" setting on the camera in their phone first. This way they will know if it is worth the financial investment of getting an actual camera for them. As I discussed in a previous post there is a cost implication with photography depending on what type of camera you decide to invest in.

The downsides to using the camera on the phone is that after so long of not being used the phone defaults the camera back to the automatic settings. Meaning if you then wish to take a photo whilst being in control of the settings you will have to reset them. Although on my phone this doesn't take long and is more of a nuisance than anything else.

The other downside to using the camera in your phone is although there is nothing stopping these photos from being printed they will be limited on the print size and that will be the case for most phone cameras. Where as if these were taken on my XT-3 there would be very little limitations on their size and it is feasible I could have printed these up to A1 size.

So overall, I would say that using the camera in your camera has its pros and cons and you have to think about what the goal of the photographs are. Is to purely enjoy on your phone or are you wanting to print them and if so at what size. And that will dictate whether you use your phone camera or whether you use an actual camera.

In my opinion no matter how fancy a phone is and how good the camera in it is, there can never be a replacement for an actual camera like my XT-3. However, in saying that there is no denying the convince of the camera in your phone.

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