11 Outdoor Photography Tips for Shooting with Your Smartphone

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Use Handy Camera Accessories

Camera phones may not be as powerful as standalone digital cameras, but there are several third-party accessories that will make smartphone photography easier and help you achieve better results.

Miggo’s Pictar One ($79) enhances your iPhone’s camera functions while providing you with an firm (and more familiar) camera grip. It offers more control over the shooting behavior, with up to five user-friendly control buttons and advanced pre-set modes like manual, shutter priority, and ISO priority aside from the usual auto, portrait, sport, landscape, macro, and video. It also has a dedicated selfie mode and button, for more convenient self-portraits, and a few photographer favorites, like the shutter release/focus and exposure lock button and exposure compensation wheel for DSLR-like camera operations. And with the top half of the camera exposed, you can freely use clip-on lenses to add variety to your shots.

The Pictar One is designed to fit and operate the iPhone 8, 7, 6, 6s, SE, 5, and 5s, while the newer Pictar One Plus () is for the bigger iPhones, particularly the 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, and X.

Do Not Use Zoom

Smartphones typically have lenses with fixed focal lengths, which means it can’t extend any of its lens parts like bigger digital camera lenses can to optically zoom into a particular scene or subject. Instead, camera phones use digital “pinch zoom” to digitally enlarge your shots, while simultaneously degrading image quality.

To avoid getting grainy, low-resolution shots, the better alternative is really to just do it the old fashioned way—move in closer by foot. This allows you to preserve the original quality of the image. If you really have to get a much “closer” shot, you can crop your image later on using a good photo editing program.

If you’re an Apple user, some of the latest iPhones have optical zoom, which can easily be accessed and operated with the Pictar One Plus’ programmable zoom ring.

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