Smartphone Camera 101: Your Guide To Smartphone Photography

By Shreyashka Vikram Raj Maharjan on Nov 14,2017 - 19:48

Smartphone photography has grown to the point where you can have DSLR like manual control on a Smartphone. Now that sounds great but it comes with allot of new features, tittles and settings. As the mobile photography technology advances the smartphone cameras will get better in both hardware and software.

If your someone who loves to take pictures and want to get better or someone who wants to learn how the basics and try your hands on smartphone photography. You need to understand the required basic terminology of various parts and software. So, let this article be your guide to understanding smartphone photography terms that will further your knowledge.



When people talk about the most important element of a camera, they say Megapixels. Well they are wrong, to simply illustrate my point what if Da Vinci had painted the Mona Lisa on a 1/2.6 inch canvas. Would it be as hyped and recognized as it is today? The sensor size in layman terms is the canvas size, the amount of space where light falls on and is processed into an image. DSLR’s have 35mm sensors which are also called full frame. The sensors go larger than full frame and are known as medium format. In smartphones sensors are tiny because phones are tiny, they pack allot of hardware in an incredibly tiny space thus we see allot of smartphones with the camera bump. Today’s smartphones feature various types of sensors notably the general RGB sensor or color sensor and Monochrome sensors like on the Huawei P10. Monochrome sensors are sensors which capture blacks and whites rather than the three colors Red, Green and Blue.

With sensors the general rule applies, larger the sensor better the image quality


Mega Pixel

Mega Pixels are basically pixel to the million. Pixels or Pixel Elements is the smallest logical element of a image. An image composes of large number of pixels that are crossed horizontaly and vertically. Mega Pixels determine how large your image can be, larger sensors have higher pixel counts where as smaller sensors have a lower pixel count.



Apeture is compared to the human Iris, Iris the part of your eyes that control the amount of light that enters into the retina through your cornea and lens. Iris is not fixed as it dilate and expand according to the light available, DSLR lens have variable aperture which can be controlled manually or digitally.
Smartphones being very compact lack the ability to have a variable aperture. Thus, they have something known as the fixed aperture; a constant opening through which light passes curved via the glass elements into the camera sensor. Most flagship camera’s have a wider aperture at f1.8 or f2.0. the Aperture is measured not in “of” but “over”thus smaller the number larger the size of the opening.



Image Stabilization


There are two types of image stabilization

  1. Electronic Image Stabilization: This form of stabilization is done digitally by the processor of the phone. This comes in handy when your taking photographs as it electronically removes blur’s caused by shaky hands. But cause something known as the “Jello Effect” while taking video.
  2. Optical Image Stabilization: This form of stabilization is done through mechanical devices attached to the camera lens which suspend the camera in a central axis that counter balances the direction of motion to produce a stable image.



ISO determines the sensitivity of the canvas(sensor) to light. Higher the ISO the more sensitive the sensor is to light which may sound good but has its drawbacks. The more pixels utilized the more noise gets created and more noise results to a grainy final image.

One must only pump up the ISO in very poor lighting conditions or just use the flash.


Shutter Speed

Shutters are like human eyelids, well your camera doesn't have lids. In terms of smartphone camera’s the shutter is electronic and not mechanical like in DSLR’s. Shutter determines the amount of time the sensor is exposed to light. Longer the shutter speed (1s) the more light enters shorter light may never reach the sensor thus a dark image.


After this 101 you might have found the neutral ground I guess, determine your ISO according to the lighting condition, determine the adequate amount of exposure required and fix the shutter speed. Or just use the automatic feature, you shall not be judged but they say knowledge is power and having the understanding of basic camera terms shall help you help oth

Tags -  Smartphone Camera , Android , iOS , Apple