SUNNYVALE, CA, United States - The 8-megapixel, Carl Zeiss-infused camera on the Nokia Lumia 900 could be finest this pioneering partnership has produced to date. With a low light-friendly aperture settings of f2.2, wide-angle focal length of 28 mm, the option of 4:3 or 16:9 ratio snaps, touch-focus and a dual LED flash, there are few limits to what you can achieve.
The delightful hardware is complemented beautifully by a host of shooting and post-production options provided by Nokia and those talented folks at Windows Phone. But even with these compact camera-esque specifications at your disposal, it doesn’t mean you can just point your Lumia 900 at anything and expect Annie Liebowitz-like results.
We spoke with photography author and creator of the Triggertrap Mobile app, as well as our own Nokia N8 camera school series Haje Jan Kamps, for some tips on getting the most from your smartphone camera.
1. Move your body real close, until we…
Some pictures we see posted to social networks are so poorly framed, you’d think there’d be something worth seeing in the background rather than acres of wallpaper. Don’t be scared to get up close and personal with your peeps. “To avoid having to zoom in or crop your shots later, ensure that your subject fills your viewfinder,” says Haje.
2. Clean and protect your lens
Have you ever thought about how gross it would be to live in your jeans pocket all day? Hanging out with snotty handkerchiefs, rolling around with filthy coinage and old candy bar wrappers? Our expert says: “Fingerprints, grease, or pocket fluff are the #1 reason for rubbish smart-phone photos, so check it, and clean it before shooting!”
3. Steady as she goes
Perfect aperture settings and professionally assigned white balance are great options to have, but if you’re as shaky as LeBron James in the fourth quarter, those smartphone pictures will never grace the family album. “If you can, lean your elbows on a sturdy surface, or place the phone against a lamppost or similar for extra crispness,” says Haje.
Windows Phone 7.5 gives the Lumia 900’s camera more options than David Beckham at a cheerleading convention. However, for those occasions when you’re unable to spend vital seconds perfecting your snap, Autofix is your friend; adjusting exposure and white balance to give darker photos a little more pep.
5. Let it shine
The f2.2 aperture setting on the Lumia 900 is designed to ensure better photos in low light, but if there’s natural light available to you, use it. The result will be better photos. “Newer handsets often come with impressive settings that allow you to shoot in low-light, but that doesn’t mean you should. Low light equals more noise. Use a lamp, turn up the main lights or, go outside.”
6. Finding a balance
“Your phone has a white balance setting. Use it. Make sure you experiment and examine how the different settings impact on your photographs,” says Mr. Kamps. The Lumia 900 has auto and manual white balance. For the best results, hold up a sheet of white paper, or focus on a white object so your camera can base the rest of its color saturation on what it sees as white.
7. Zoom, but only if you have to
If you’re up in the nosebleeds at a rock concert, or want to use your phone as binoculars, the zoom setting can come in handy. However, resist the temptation to max-out the magnification: “Keep it zoomed all the way out, and crop the images later instead,” or risk pixelated, messy photos, our expert advises.
8. You say you want a resolution
While bragging about the Lumia 900’s ‘resolutionary’ capabilities would just sound silly, the 8-megapixel Carl Zeiss optics on the Lumia 900 does allow for clearer and crisper shots. With seven gigs of free SkyDrive storage, don’t worry about memory sapping file-sizes and take full advantage. We may give Mr. Kamps the Captain Obvious prize for this observation, but the man has a point: “As a general rule, the higher the resolution of your mobile camera, the clearer your photographs will be.”
9. A helping hand from the Creative Studio
“Even though your phone may have built-in editing features, consider editing them with a separate app instead,” says Haje. The Lumia 900 boasts plenty of settings to make sure you get it right first time and Autofix often comes to the rescue if you don’t. Beyond that, give the Nokia-built Creative Studio a try. It’s loaded with effects, filters and adjustments. There’s also plenty of third party options in Windows Marketplace. We especially like Apict and CleverPhoto.
10. Lumia 900’s built-in advantage
Of course, there’s little point in having perfectly composed photos, a steady hand, perfect sunlight and a clean lens if you miss the photo op. The difference between the best smartphone picture you’ll ever take and a blurry mess could be fractions of a second. So, equip yourself quickly. The Lumia 900 has a dedicated camera button that allows you access to the app and indeed your saved favored settings, from the home screen, even if the phone is locked.
Haje Jan Kamps is a contributing editor to Pixiq photography website, author of several photography books and creator of the Triggertrap mobile app and camera trigger, which he hopes to bring to Windows Phone in the near future.