Do it yourself
    20 June 2017


    Take your best shot

    There’s no reason for you to take a bad photo because phone cameras have gone high tech. Mandy J Watson looks at some of the technologies you should opt for.

    There’s no reason for you to take a bad photo because phone cameras have gone high tech. Mandy J Watson looks at some of the technologies you should opt for.

    Phone manufacturers are incorporating new technologies in their cameras and photo-capture software. But are some of these advances just gimmicks, or do they really mean you’ll be able to take better photographs?

    Dual Cameras

    We want small, thin, light phones, which is a bit of a problem when it comes to photography. Many great photographers use giant, bulky DSLR cameras to get the shot and the reason for that is what’s going on in the lenses and image sensors – the bigger they are, the more detailed information they can capture. Most people don’t want a giant lens bolted onto their phone, so manufacturers have to try new ways to help you take better photos.

    That's why some smartphones now have dual cameras on the back (and sometimes the front to help with selfies). The Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, for example, have two cameras on the back, which means two image sensors – Huawei can’t make the sensors bigger, but by including two, the phones can still grab more data for the photo. One captures lots of colour information and the other captures monochrome information that helps with understanding 3D depth and processing the light the cameras capture, which results in better looking faces and skin tones.

    The Lens

    Even if you don’t have dual cameras you can still take great photos if the phone has one high-quality lens. While some phone brands have generic lenses that are still really good, there are dedicated lens manufacturers that are absolute masters and those important names – Leica and Zeiss in particular – are what you want to look out for when you are evaluating a phone as it’s an extra guarantee of photo quality.


    Motorola got around all the size problems by creating a modular phone – the Moto Z – that allows you to snap on modules when you need them and remove them when you don’t. This means you can add bulk, which is important for a camera, but not be stuck with it all the time. 

    One of its modules is the Hasselblad True Zoom, which offers great optical zooming capabilities, meaning you can take better pictures of a subject that is further way – there will be less grain and blurriness as you super zoom in on the details.

    Manual Controls

    Once you know a bit about photography, you start to understand the limitations of the auto features of a camera. They're designed to take the 'best guess' shot, and usually do a good job – but you can do better. This is where manual controls come in. 

    The Samsung Galaxy S8’s Pro mode allows you to adjust all sorts of settings manually, which means you can get the best shot in low- or extra-bright-light conditions. Different kinds of photography, such as portraiture or action shots, require different settings to capture the best appropriate light. 


    Manual controls also let you learn how to be a better photographer – you’ll pick up what works best as you experiment with the settings. This means that, no matter what phone you have in your hand, you’ll know how to take the best shot.