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For the past, several years mobile phones have been the most popular & common way to capture and share photos on photo sharing communities like Flickr & Instagram. With the rising competition and market demands, mobile phone manufacturers like Apple, Samsung and even Google have shifted their focus on the camera quality, features and enhancements to make it more consumer friendly and appealing. The consumers apart from phone design, now pay more attention to camera features and quality because to be honest it is the generation of social media and we all love to record instant moments on the go. I would also asset on the fact that the best part about these phone cameras is the ease of use, quality and versatility. It slips right into your pocket and goes wherever you go.

Being a wildlife photographer my go to gear is my full frame DSLR and the big lens that gives the range and clarity I prefer while capturing my subjects, but I do use my phone camera to capture instant moments and small videos on the go. It is vital to understand that photography of wildlife especially birds is completely different than taking a selfie and in this write up I attempt to explain some of the tricks to help you get better at capturing shots with your phone camera.

Take Back Control

Both iPhone and Android phones with their latest operating systems are more than equipped to give full manual control to its users. Take advantage of that. Use the ‘Pro’ mode on your camera and play with the features. Shutter speeds, iso etc. are essential learning tips for any beginner and will seem daunting at start but you can easily master them with little practice in your backyard.


If you wondered why your camera produces a shaky image while using scope to zoom, then try the timer functionality to minimize the shake.

Capturing images in higher shutter speeds ensures sharp images, however, do not go beyond 1/1000th of a second if there is not enough light in the area because that would make the images very dark.

ISO basically means sensitivity of your camera sensor, meaning if you are shooting in darker locations then your camera can produce brighter images at higher ISO. So, you need to increase your phone camera iso to click picture in the dark. It is also important to note that this is all being done in the ‘Pro’ mode

File Size:

Larger images contain more information, which gives you more to work with when you go to edit them later. Set your phone to save photos with the highest pixel dimensions and in the TIFF format, so they remain uncompressed.

Always shoot at the highest available resolution in uncompressed format, reason? You have the details and flexibility to edit them the way you want. The film camera equivalent was to shoot on film which was later developed in a studio.

Compose Your Shot

While shooting on a mobile phone you have to understand that the sensor of these cameras are relatively smaller than digital SLR cameras, meaning cropping later would produce more noise. Try composing your final image on the phone using the rule of 3rd’s.

Fine-tune Your Photo

Use an app like Snapseed or photoshop express to maximize the output of that image. These apps give several options to edit your images like a pro and in fact many professionals now prefer editing on the go on their phones.

Video and Time-lapse

I shoot a lot of videos of birds in south America, especially hummingbirds and tanagers. Sometimes it is important to tell a story versus shooting the perfect image. When I do shoot videos, I make sure that I shoot the highest resolution, and in horizontal mode. To be fair there are many instances where I will shoot vertical purely because of Instagram stories.

Learn about your camera features and the more you use them the more you utilize these high capability phone cameras that are evolving and enhancing the offerings based on the consumer demand.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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