Increasingly, our smartphones are becoming the first things we reach for when we want to immortalize a moment. Here are some ways to squeeze out some extra quality from those shots.
No, we aren’t talking about those cheap pieces of plastic that you struggle to hold to the back of your phone… There are actual DSLR-esque lenses produced by Sony that are specifically meant for your smartphone. They fix onto the back of your smartphone and bring amazing features usually reserved for much bigger and bulkier cameras, such as a huge sensor and true optical zoom, and also improve existing features such as Optical Image Stabilization and post-shot dynamic range correction. There are also some other nifty features such as a remote control and wireless sharing. Though we wouldn’t call them overpriced, they are expensive.
These days, the flagship phones pack some truly amazing hardware and deliver on some good phones. A full-size camera is infinitely more comfortable to hold and more stable to shoot than a puny smartphone, and the results show. Even though tweaks like OIS take care of minor twitches, having a better grip on your camera makes the whole process simpler and better. Enter the Beastgrip. It’s sort of a chassis mount for your phone that lets you hold it the same way you would a bigger camera. They also bundle it in with a few smaller lenses that go behind your phone to allow for better photos like a fisheye lens and a wide angle lens. It’s pricey, starting at $140 for just the grip, but it’s worth it – especially if you are going use it in rough, jostling conditions.
Movie shooting simplified
DJI is well known for their excellent drones and more than that, the excellent footage that their drones shoot. Those buttery smooth, ultra stable, sweeping shots of landscape are quickly becoming the first thing people think of when they hear the word drone. And DJI has brought that technology out for phones as well. Meet the DJI Osmo. It’s a gimbal on which you can mount your phone and shoot video with the included camcorder. It keeps the camera flat and steady, no matter how much you move to give you that same stabilized footage as their drones.
The DJI Osmo comes with a Zemuse X3 – capable of shooting 4K video at 30 or 50 fps and 12 MP stills, and it’s completely modular, meaning that you can swap it out for other compatible Zenmuse modules. It takes microSD cards upto 64 GB and it’s pretty light at around 230 grams. If smooth stable footage is one of your pet peeves, you should definitely look into getting one.
Manual Camera is a great little app that every photography geek must have in their arsenal. It opens up generally locked settings on your phone, such as Focus Distance and Shutter Speed, so that you can fiddle around with them to compose and get that perfect shot. To top it all off, it shoots in RAW as well! It’s pretty fast and snappy and while the UI doesn’t look as neat or clean as we would like, it gets its job done. What we are most disappointed about is the ₹210 asking price. It’s a little steep but if your primary camera is your phone and the lack of options hurt you, it’s worth a look at.
Filters aren’t all bad
Instagram has given filters a bad name – and it’s not even their fault. People just slap on the first filter they see with no regard to see if it makes the photo look better or not (Maybe this is the reason why Clarendon is the number one filter in the world – it’s the first filter in Instagram’s default lineup) But when a filter is used correctly, it can truly enhance how a photo looks. Or get some truly comical shots out of everyday life. Cameringo+ is a camera that lets you shoot photos and videos with filters pre-applied. You can choose your pick from Spktro, Morfo and other fun unpronounceable names. It also has some manual controls and lets you shoot both slo-mo and extra fast videos (Not 940 fps slo-mo though) Pick it up on the Play Store for ₹75
Ever shoot a great photo just to find out that you have that one thing in the frame that detracts from the whole shebang? Don’t fret, for a solution is at hand. TouchRetouch allows you to easily remove unwanted elements in a photo. You have plenty of options like line removal, object removal and quick brush – and it’s precise enough to remove just the smaller stuff too (like acne). It also has a clone stamp, to replicate objects that you do want in the photo. Quite handy to fix up any great photos with minor flaws. It’s available on both the Play Store and the App Store for ₹130 and ₹160 respectively.
This one is for the #iPhoneagraphy crowd. Filterstorm Neue is a very powerful editor that can handle RAW footage, no problem. You can play around with masking curves, color blending and even add in a watermark if you want to. The app is also very well written and it leverages your iPhone’s GPU rather than the CPU, making it extremely fast to use. It also looks pretty nice, with semi-transparent floating labels to help even newbies to quickly figure out the controls. There are some small things that aren’t readily noticeable – such as tapping to offset whatever brush you are using so that you can see the part you are working on, that all combine together to make this one very nice editor that is quite nice to use. It costs $3.99 over at the App Store.
Adobe Photoshop Fix
Say what you will, Adobe usually ends up making some good products and their mobile platform is no different. Adobe Photoshop Fix is intended as a way to get your photos retouched and restored on the go and it delivers. It has a whole suite of features, from defocusing to face-specific edits all packaged into a very polished app. It isn’t meant as a powerful image editor and we can live with that, but the limited functionality it does offer is very good and it is definitely worth having. Download it on the Play Store and App Store for free!
This article was first published in the July 2017 issue of Digit magazine. To read Digit’s articles first, subscribe here or download the Digit app for Android and iOS. You could also buy Digit’s previous issues here.