Since camera phones were introduced in early 2000, people now have the opportunity to take as many photos as they desire. But chances are, they often come out a little dark, too light or just out of focus. With a whole raft of camera settings at your disposal, learning how to use them properly will produce much better photos. We’re here to help, with the first in a two part series on how to make the most of your Nokia Lumia camera settings.
An amazing photo starts with one thing – the camera. On your Nokia Lumia, pressing the camera button or selecting Camera from the application list will launch the camera application and transform your screen into a viewfinder to the big wide world.
With the phone in landscape position, pressing the settings icon (the one that looks like a cog) on the bottom right of the screen will give you access to all the settings that are available. And there are lots.
For most of the time, grabbing your phone out of your pocket and just snapping away will produce some great shots, however, when I’m looking for something more, there are always three settings I look to change before all else.
When taking a photo of a landscape, a group of people or a meadow, the default mode – Normal – does the job. However, if you need to get in extra close to your subject, like a bee, a flower, or the foam on the top of your caffè latte, for example, you’ll need to set the focus mode to Macro.
This enables you to focus the camera on items that are only centimetres away from the lens of your Nokia Lumia.
As well as capturing as much detail as possible of your subject, it will also give you a bokeh effect at the same time. Bokeh is where your subject is in perfect clarity while the background (or foreground, in some instances – but not with Macro mode) fades away into a blur. This focuses the eye on what’s important – the subject.
When you’re taking a photo late in the evening, or even at night, you might consider changing the ISO settings to get a better shot. The automatic setting usually gives you the best shot, but it’s always good to keep-in-mind that these settings can be changed to give you the exact shot you want.
Changing the ISO changes the camera’s sensitivity to light and setting it up high is best for darker scenarios to get maximum light to the sensor. However, this adds more ‘noise’ to the photo, but does leave a lighter, brighter image.
By lowering the ISO setting you’re reducing the light that the camera sensor receives, leaving a slightly darker, but a finer, less grainy photo.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that changing the Exposure would give the same effect as changing the ISO settings – I used to think that. But, although they both control light coming into the lens, the end result is quite different.
Changing this exposure setting leaves the shutter of the camera open for longer, or shorter, depending on the setting. Choosing yourself when the shutter should close means you’re able to decide what the photo looks like. If you want an action shot, where moving objects leave a blur behind them, you’ll want to set the exposure levels high. But if you want to capture something with very little movement, you should set the exposure as low as possible.
This not only creates motion blur it also lets more light to get into the camera, because you’re controlling how long the shutter is open.
I increased the exposure level this summer when celebrating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The miserable weather led to some disappointing photos to say the least, so, cranking up the exposure level brightened up the photo, and my day.
Here’s a cool photo I took almost a year ago at a London Underground train station. By setting the exposure level high, it was easy to create an artistic photo with motion blur.
Besides my three most used settings, there are loads more on-board tools to help you perfect your photos, and we’ll go through those next week.
Updated October 1, 2015 7:55 am