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5 Things to look for in a great camera phone

To help out mobile photography enthusiasts, here are some of the most important things to look for in a camera phone.

Smartphone cameras have come a long way, from grainy photos on a tiny screen to high-definition shots on a stunning, color-accurate display. In fact, some smartphone companies have tie-ups with camera and optical technology manufacturers to create camera phones that can capture truly gorgeous pictures.

Still, even with all these developments, it can be difficult to choose a camera phone. You can’t just type “buy mobile phones Philippines” in the search bar and immediately find the best one. In order to get those high-quality shots, you need to have a smartphone with all the right features and capabilities.

To help out mobile photography enthusiasts, here are some of the most important things to look for in a camera phone:

RAW Image Format

Most phones will save photos in JPEG format. However, if you want something with more details, you need a phone that lets you save in RAW format. These images are unprocessed and uncompressed, which means they contain more information. RAW images are so-called “lossless” and offer more room for post-processing.

Do note that RAW files are bigger than JPEG files, so you’re definitely going to need more storage space in your phone if you take a lot of photos. If your preferred phone doesn’t allow RAW photographs, you can download third-party apps (but your phone’s camera must be Camera2 API ready).

Megapixel + Quality Sensor

Some camera phones boast high megapixels, but this isn’t the only thing that matters. You should also take a look at the sensor. Basically, what you need is a good pixel count, larger pixel size, and a quality sensor. For pixel size, you want something that’s bigger than 1 µm. For sensors, the larger the better. This is so that all those pixels can be detected properly.

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For reference, the lower the number after 1, the bigger the sensor. Therefore, a phone camera with a 1/1.28” sensor will take sharper photos than a phone camera with a 1/1.29” sensor. This is why a phone with a 12 MP camera with a 1.7µm pixel size and a 1.255” sensor can still produce good photos even with the “low” MP count.

Optical Zoom

When it comes to zoom, when you can’t get physically closer to your subject, optical is always better than digital. Digital zoom is software-based; it doesn’t actually put the camera lens closer to the subject, but rather recreates the effect through cropping. This results in grainy or blurred photos. Meanwhile, optical zoom adjusts the lenses so you can zoom in and take close-up photos with better quality. 

What you have to remember is that right now, manufacturers haven’t been able to create phone cameras with optical zoom at different focal lengths. If it says “3x optical zoom” then you can only zoom in at 3x magnification—you can’t go higher or lower. Currently, manufacturers are working on improving the current hybrid technology that combines the capabilities of digital and optical zoom.

The Right Lenses

Nowadays, smartphones with at least two lenses are a common sight. The question is, what kind of lens do you need to produce great pictures? The answer is, it depends. Below are some of the common lenses used in smartphones and what they can do:

1) Wide Angle Lens

This allows you to fit more elements into the frame, perfect for capturing landscapes and panorama shots. If the focal length is less than 24 mm, the lens is considered ultra-wide.

2) Telephoto Lens

Telephoto lenses are what give your phone optical zoom capabilities. You can also produce the “bokeh” effect—blurred background with sharp, focused foreground—with this lens. Thus, it’s great for taking portraits.

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3) Macro Lens

A macro lens will let you take extreme close-up shots, which are perfect for smaller objects like insects or flowers. These lenses often have low resolution (about 2 to 5 MP, depending on the manufacturer).

There are also phones with monochrome lenses, which help you take black-and-white pictures with better contrast.

For Portrait Photography: Depth Sensors

If you like taking portraits but don’t necessarily need or want a telephoto lens, pay attention to the phone camera’s depth sensors. They help capture additional details, creating a depth map, so that the subject is kept in focus. 

In high-end phones, depth sensors are replaced with 3D TOF (time of flight) sensors. It uses infrared light and lasers to capture more accurate depth details. Phones with TOF sensors can be used for 3D photography and creating 3D images.

Another thing you might want to check out is image stabilization, which helps reduce blur (particularly in videos). Lastly, it can be beneficial to buy a camera phone with a manual mode. Autofocus is amazing and it works well in most situations, but not so great in others. With a manual mode, you can take better photos of moving objects, low-contrast scenes, and multiple subjects. Some smartphones label the manual focus setting as “Pro” or something similar.

Happy hunting for that perfect camera phone for your photography needs! 

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