As mobile devices advance every year with new features, the dual cameras most iOS and Android devices come with continue to have better technical specifications. The rear-facing cameras are the ones usually with the best improvements and ones used for photography; while the front-facing camera is used for things like video chat or Instagram. Both are really aimed at different tasks but combined with software, and other additions, a seemingly inferior shot can be made to be state of the art in the right hands.
As these cameras improve, more professionals and turning to them rather than expensive and bulky camera equipment. When you combine today’s HD imagery and video from a smartphone camera with software such as Photoshop that can improve imagery further, you can get very good or professional type of images to showcase for your brand or personal usage.
“Advances in the cell phones as well as the technology housed in the phone and the lenses in the cameras have moved the cell phone camera into the realm in which professional images can be captured,” according to lens assembly retailer Universe Optics. “Today’s camera phones feature megapixels in the double digits, are equipped with optical zoom, red eye features, and the capability to shoot high definition video.”
There are two main technologies present in modern digital photography that are responsible for digital conversions of pixels to output and basically improved image quality. They include CMOS and CCD. Because CCD runs hot or drains battery, most mobile cameras rly on CMOS. Its main disadvantage is that images can appear distorted when taking shots in motion.
Due to such limitations and the limitation of lens sizes as well as hardware that has to fit in a tiny space, many professionals still rely on bulky and expensive external cameras rather than take shots with a mobile device. However, this is slowly changing as the lines get drawn closer between what is possible with DSLR and a mobile device. Another aspect to consider is external lenses that can be attached to a camera and further improve the shot as well as draw a closer line with expensive and professional cameras and what a mobile device is capable of. This is why more and more professionals opt for in-house shots than hire a specific camera person to to the work.
(TechRadar recently did a story on external lenses worth keeping an eye out for in 2019 although it focuses on iOS not Android or other smartphones.)
Today’s smartphone technology includes high dynamic range (HDR) photography, the ability and enough storage to take such shots at very high resolutions, the ability to adjust the background blur, anti redeye techniques, different exposure options for say night and day image capture and more. Yes, it is true that an external or a professional digital camera allows for more control of a shot with things like the f-stop/aperture settings and shutter speed being completely modifiable for every shot. However for the most part, the lines are closer than ever and it is through additional software the smartphone can catch up.
Apple’s recent iPhone line has a feature — as describes also more in-depth by BusinessInsider — called SmartHDR, for instance, where nine shots are taken with different exposures and settings and combined into a best overall shot. Yes, it is less control by the user, but the overall experience may be less trial and error and come out similar in the end.
In some fields like real estate, images of properties for sale are paramount for success. A property listing may sound good on paper on a website ad, but if it does not have good imagery showing the home, it will not entice many potential buyers. However, despite this, it is quite possible, and many real estate agents in fact opt for the much quicker method, to take great shots from a mobile devices, fix them up through software and even upload them for potential customers to see all from the fingertips of a touchscreen device.
One such software recently made its debut for iOS devices called Photomatix Real Estate Camera from HDRsoft. It is aimed at both real estate agents who want good quality shots on the go and without hassle; as well as amateur photographers who have w problem getting the right lighting in a shot or who do not have external camera equipment handy. Its HDR techniques are specialized for real estate and getting the right lighting in indoor shots so that the images turn out clear and without sun glare or too little light coming through.
“Key capabilities provided by the app include lighting presets so users can change the appearance of the photo after the shot,” according to a recent press release about this latest software release. “There are also tools to quickly fine-tune brightness, contrast, and color adjustments. A crop tool conveniently outputs photos to an MLS crop ratio. And, a straightening tool can be used to fix sloping floors or walls that don’t line up properly because of perspective issues.”
What makes such software possible to allow for something like an iPhone or iPad the ability to take professional shots and without much photography knowledge or hassle in changing settings all the time, is the improvements mobile devices have had in HDR over the years. The aforementioned app specifically works with HDR to get the different lighting settings right for each property shot.
This is one example of software that can augment hardware in terms of overcoming the limitations that a smartphone camera may have without even an external and large lens attached to it and particularly in comparison to external and expensive camera equipment. The software focuses on one niche, real estate imagery, and that is why it uses clever HDR tricks that go beyond Apple’s default camera software.
Real estate is an example I used because it makes a huge difference, basically night and day, in how desirable a listing can look and how fast a property may sell. However, there are many other examples where software is being used to augment mobile camera hardware to draw the line these days with professional photography. Ebay or eCommerce listings (for example SnapShop) are also very photography dependent for success and there are apps that focus on these sort of takes. Another example is taking images or the office or the workplace for corporate shots.
Things like improvements in megapixels over every new iPhone or Android model and the ability to shoot HDR allow for such apps to create amazing imagery on the go. It is when we rely on effectively combination of smart hardware innovations, despite limitations, with innovative software solutions that we can be truly bridge the gap with professional cameras and time consuming photography. Combined with the ability to add external lenses, Photoshop touchups and options that take the camera further than either Apple or Google allow for by default, give your mobile camera a go and you may just be surprised by the results.
The next iPhone is rumored to come with a 10-megapixel front-facing camera with TrueDepth technology, for instance. This is a jump from a 7-megapixel front-facing cameras current models offer. However, one thing about Apple is that its technical upgrades are often aimed at specific tasks. It appears to focus on Face ID and similar features and keep in mind it is the rear-facing and not front-facing cameras this new rumor focuses on when the rear-facing cameras are the ones we use for photography. Even the iPhone 7 offers up to 12 megapixels up front as you can see from Apple’s specifications. We will have to wait and see how that fairs, but the focus on camera in mobile device upgrades is here to stay by all the major players in the market.
The price and demand for certain iPhones may be falling lately, so we can hope more radical hardware upgrades to entice customers, including cameras, will continue. Android phones, on the other hand, vary greatly depending on brand and price. The apps Android phones can tap into, however, can also greatly improve the quality of the final image possible and you can check some options out here for 2019.
If you want to see quality shots done with recent mobile cameras, head on over to The Atlas with their coverage of the 8th Mobile Photography Awards.