Top smartphone cameras for 2016
The five smartphones with the slickest cameras on the market - plus, five bonus tips for taking better photos with your phone.
Smartphone cameras have come a long way in the last couple of years. As a rule, phones used to take terrible pictures in poorly lit places, and the risk of a photo with blur or 'noise' was high, no matter how far your phone sat on the luxury end of the scale.
We've been thrilled to see some awesome developments in the capabilities of smartphone cameras, and, whether you're a professional photographer or just a keen amateur, the quality of the camera on your phone is now no doubt one of its most important features.
If you're due for an upgrade or in the market for a new device, check out our pick of the most covetable cameras on smartphones currently available through Vodacom Online.
- Low-light shooting: The F1.8 aperture lens allows 80% more light to reach the sensor, making it especially good in low-light conditions.
- Image stabilisation: Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) 2.0 allows the camera to correct your shaky hands to a certain degree, so you'll get clear pictures even if your hands aren't perfectly steady.
- Blur reduction: The 0.6-second shutter speed means you can take photos much faster and with less blur.
- Clarity: The 16MP rear and 8MP front cameras produce beautiful, high-resolution photographs, whether you're shooting a landscape or a selfie.
- Video: The 12MP camera can also record 4K (also known as Ultra high-definition) video. You can shoot a 2160p/4K video at 30 frames per second, or a 720p resolution video at 240 frames per second.
- Panorama mode: This allows you to create images as large as 43MP.
- Live Photos: This feature essentially creates short, GIF-like videos instead of still images.
- OIS: The 6s Plus boasts optical image stabilisation for videos as well as photos, so your videos shot in lower light will be smooth and beautiful.
- Zoom: A super-sharp 5x Clear Image Zoom will bring you up close to your subject.
- Selfie cam: An industry first, the powerful 13MP front-facing selfie cam will allow you to take the most picture-perfect selfies, with integrated autofocus and Full HD video recording capability.
- Autofocus: Its 0.25 seconds Hybrid Autofocus means you'll be able to capture moments before they pass.
- Resolution: The 21.5MP resolution of the Xperia M5's camera means your pictures will be so clear, they will look like you've taken them with a compact digital camera.
- Price tag: This phone is a lot more affordable than the others on this list, which is why its 13MP camera is such a triumph.
- Brightness: Huawei says the camera on the P8 has the 'world’s first four-colour RGBW sensor', meaning images are up to 32% brighter than a three-colour sensor (found on most smartphones).
- Selfies: The 8MP front camera produces crisp selfies, and can also shoot 1080p video.
- Night pictures: Noise is reduced significantly when shooting at night, so pictures taken in the dark look bright but not grainy.
- Resolution: The resolution on Samsung's new phones’ primary cameras are 12MP and as a result of Samsung's Dual Pixel Technology, the phones produce better low-light images.
- Aperture: The F1.7 aperture will let in 25% more light than previous Galaxy models.
- Display: Your pictures will look fantastic on the phones' AMOLED displays, with rich, natural colours.
- Large screen: The 5.1-inch screens on the S7 and S7 edge make editing your images and checking tiny details on your photos super-easy.
Smartphone camera tips
- Pay attention to the background: Move closer to your subject to avoid getting undesirable details in the background, or ask the person you’re photographing to step to the side.
- Choose a perspective: Think beyond the space directly in front of you. Shoot upwards from a low angle to make things look large, or vice versa. Food photos in particular look really good shot from above - consider standing on your chair.
- Zoom with caution: Unless you're using one of the phones in our list with a sharp zoom, your phone's camera will be more susceptible to camera shake when you zoom, resulting in blurred pictures. Rather move yourself closer to your subject.
- Avoid using your flash: The best smartphone cameras these days allow for shooting in the dark or low-light conditions so that you don't have to use your flash. Smartphone camera flashes are basically very bright LED lights, which are particularly harsh on faces.
- Observe the rule of thirds: This is important for balanced composition. Divide your frame into three equally sized sections horizontally and vertically, so you end up with nine sections or blocks. Place your subject in one of the points of intersection, and your viewers will interact with it more naturally than if your subject was in the very centre of your shot.