The bigger picture
You can take spectacular snaps with the latest smartphones if you’re armed with the right apps and accessories, says Tushar Kanwar
I’m the sort who swears by Chase Jarvis’ maxim that the best camera is the one that’s with you, which would explain why the bulk of my photos these days aren’t shot with a heavy camera kit hanging around my neck. Smartphones are no longer the poor, country cousins of the camera world, and if you’re armed with the right phone, apps and accessories, you can take eye-popping spectacular shots too!
The best phone cams to buy
SAMSUNG S7 EDGE: Clearly the standout phone camera for the year so far, the S7 and its Edge sibling deliver rich and detailed images straight out of the camera, and its fast f/1.7 aperture lens and optical image stabilisation ensure that low light images don’t suffer. Plus there’s a Pro mode for fine-grained control over your shots.
IPHONE 6S PLUS: Even with the next iPhone just around the corner, the 6S Plus remains one of the most reliable and colour accurate shooters across a variety of shooting conditions. Plus, it avoids the temptation of delivering oversaturated images that pop out, which many cameras still deliver.
LG G5: LG scores high for the added flexibility that its second 135-degree wide angle lens gives to folks who enjoy shooting landscapes and architecture, and the f/1.8 lens and OIS mean night shots aren’t too shabby either.
The best shooting gizmos
SNAP-ON LENS: If you find the reach or perspective of your phone camera too limiting, Olloclip and Moment have a number of versatile lens options for popular smartphones. Olloclip’s quick-change 4-in-1 lens kit ($80) tacks on a fisheye and wide-angle lens to get panoramic landscapes, and the macro lens allow 10x or15x close-ups with the sort of detail you’d normally miss. If you’re looking for the best optics money can buy, consider the Moment lens, which offer individual wide-angle, tele-photo and macro lens ($100 each) for great sharpness and minimal optical distortion and aberration.
POCKET TRIPOD MOUNTS: Super-sleek phones are that much more difficult to grip and stabilise, hence a good smartphone mount and pocket tripod are key to blur-free shots. The Klyp+ series by Manfrotto (of the DSLR camera tripod fame) offer cases for popular smartphones that
feature an LED light, a tripod mount and, as a bonus, two interchangeable lenses that snap on and add fisheye and telephoto capabilities to the phone. Best used with the Manfrotto Pixi (Rs 1,400), a small tabletop tripod that does double duty as a handy video grip, or the Joby GorillaPods with their bendy wrap-around-anything legs.
REMOTE TRIGGERS: The proliferation of selfie-sticks at tourist destinations is getting out of hand, but if you want a simple way to click a photo without holding onto your phone, consider a trigger like the Muku Shuttr ($40), a wireless Bluetooth remote which lets you control the shutter in your smartphone’s camera apps from up to 30ft away!
EXTERNAL FLASHLIGHTS: Phone flashes are at best anaemic and often best left off, but with pocketable lighting solutions like the Asus Lolliflash (in pic) or the Nova Bluetooth flash, you can finally do justice to your subjects even in dimly lit situations. The Lolliflash plugs into the 3.5mm headphone jack, while the Nova connects over Bluetooth.
Apps to swear by
MICROSOFT PIX: As good as iPhone cameras are, the default app is a bit too basic for most needs. Microsoft’s Pix is the answer — it marries burst photography with smart image editing all in one app. When you take a photo, Pix takes a bunch of shots immediately before and after the moment and combs through the list to see which ones are clearer, or have everyone smiling and with their eyes open. The best images are corrected for exposure, colour and noise and presented to you so you can pick the best shot. The rest are discarded automatically. What’s more, if you have an older iPhone and yearn for the “Live Photo” feature, Pix breathes in life and motion into your everyday photos for great results. This can truly replace your default photo app on the iPhone.
PRISMA: If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you’d have heard of Prisma — the app that uses AI to convert your photos into works of art, in the style of famous artists like Lichtenstein or Picasso. Snap, upload and tap on the various art styles to apply the filter, and bingo! Instant art.
ENLIGHT: If you’re brave and don’t scare easy, take a stab at the Enlight app, which not only offers an extensive collection of advanced editing tools, but also backs it up with a fun set of whimsical and artistic effects. As intuitive as it is, Enlight takes time to fully understand, but it’s well worth the time invested.
firstname.lastname@example.org; follow me on twitter @2shar