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May 1, 2014

How to get the best from your amazing Lumia 1020 zoom

You may remember a few weeks back we looked at the background basics of a zoom function. Now, we’’re going to delve into when to use the zoom and how to get the most out of it on your Lumia 1020.

We all know that using the zoom on your camera might be your only choice, but sometimes it can – and it should – be a deliberate decision. Hopefully these tips will make your Lumia phoneographic adventures even more interesting and challenging.

When to move and when to zoom?

A good example of when you must zoom in is spectator events, which tend to prevent you from getting too close to the action. The shot below is a shadow of a rope performer; obviously for safety and for the rest of the audience’s viewing pleasure, getting too close would not be acceptable. So the Lumia’s superior zoom came into its own!

00 Rope Performer Helsinki

Similarly, activities like wildlife photography will nearly always require you to keep a distance from your subject (either for safety or so as not to disturb the animal). But using the zoom can also be a deliberate decision in order to make the most out of the notion of ‘compressed’ perspective.

The open road

I wanted to capture this beautiful, quiet Finnish country road whilst out over Easter. With the Lumia 1020 fully zoomed out you get the sense of space and openness of the countryside, but you don’t get a sense of the lovely sweeping S bend. And, as a cyclist, this was the element I wanted to focus on! By zooming in I could maintain a similar composition, but make the photograph more focused on the winding road.

Zoomed road

Crowded composition

Another time to use your zoom would be if you want to increase the implied density of a crowd or party. Using a wider angle will make the figures appear more spaced out; a zoomed in shot will make the space feel tighter and more densely populated.

00 nokia Protest March, Seoul 2008

A zoom will also allow you to make tightly cropped compositions (without having to park yourself 2 cm from the subject’s nose!) This in itself can have an affect on how the viewer interacts with the image. Many film makers – from Alfred Hitchcock to Oliver Stone – have famously used this technique to create claustrophobic feelings in scenes which have a heavy psychological content.

Exaggerated movement

One important lesson to learn when zooming in is that there will be an exaggeration of movement and therefore a bigger chance of a blurry image. There’s a variety of ways to combat out of focus telephoto shots.

nokia camera-shake-table

There is an old rule that the shutter speed should never be slower than the focal length. That is, if you are using a 200mm lens then the shutter speed should be at least 1/200th of a second.

Although this might not always be true, it’s a good benchmark to keep in your mind. This rule will, of course, depend on the lighting conditions.

With the phenomenal exposure control on the 1020, you are in charge of exactly what the shutter does, so when you zoom in a lot, think about the shutter speed. Where possible, make it as quick as possible to reduce the chance of camera shake.

Keeping it steady

Of course, the other way to keep it steady is to use a tripod and the 1020 has an excellent and sturdy grip with a secure tripod fitting.

1020 tripod mount

However, sometimes a tripod is too cumbersome to carry around or too big to use. So it’s always worth considering a monopod too. As the name suggests, this is just a one legged, telescopic pole with a normal tripod mount head. It is not as sturdy as a regular tripod, but is a lot more portable and can help reduce camera shake in many circumstances. (Funnily enough, they can also be useful for selfies if you don’t want your arm in every shot!)

Fancy creating some Hitchcock-like effects on your Lumia zoom, or making your house party look as packed as a Brazilian carnival? Whichever method you try out first, we’d love to find out (and see) the results. Please do post them in your comments down below.