CONSUMER REPORTS — If you’ve ever taken a bad photo with your smartphone, you’re not alone. And while today’s smartphones have many advanced features previously seen on higher end cameras used by professional photographers, you may not know much about them or know how to use them.
For example, what does the commonly found portrait mode actually do?
“It uses the bokeh effect to blur the background, which really makes your subject pop,” said Bree Fowler, Consumer Reports Tech Editor.
To use it, tap the word “portrait” under the viewfinder then tap on your subject so the camera knows what to focus on. Pro tip: Some phones even let you add this effect after you’ve taken the picture.
“Another great feature is Night Mode. That leaves your camera’s shutter open longer to let in more light,” Fowler said.
But you’ll need a steady hand to get the best results. To hold the camera still while the shutter is open try locking your elbows at your side or better yet-use a tripod.
Another tip from CR: avoid pinching to zoom on your screen and instead use your camera’s optical zoom-if you’ve got it. That’s the telephoto lens labeled as 2x or 3x on your screen. If you don’t have it, get closer to the action or take a wider shot and crop the photo later so you don’t lose any resolution.
If you’re in the market for a new phone, the good news is you don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality camera.
Aside from the pricey top-rated models from Apple and Samsung, there are more budget-friendly models with cameras that did well in CR’s ratings, such as Apple’s older iPhone XR and the OnePlus 8.