Smartphone cameras have come a long way. I can vouch for this. My mobile shooter has been my primary cam since 2006. Back then a 2 megapixel lens was a big deal and lowlight images were nowhere near what mobile shooters can produce today. DSLRs are still the gold standard but smartphone cameras have made big strides in zoom photography, action photography as well as lowlight videos and pictures. Add the rapid advancements in computational photography and you have a convenient cam that has all the tricks you need for your Instagram feed. We round up some cool features that are playing out in smartphone cameras around you:
Magic Eraser (on the Google Pixel 6 and 7 series)
Imagine having the Eiffel Tower all to yourself. Magic Eraser is just what you need when you’re in a busy landmark and need your ‘I was there’ picture. It’s one of Google’s many smart camera tools that allows you to remove distractions or make objects blend right in. Remove those annoying photo bombers or even random objects that clutter your picture with just a few taps.
Action mode (on the iPhone 14 and 14 Pro)
If you love the outdoors or are a daredevil adrenaline junkie, this new feature on the 2022 models of the iPhone might be just what you need to document your adventures, especially if you’ve left your GoPro behind. The new Action mode adjusts to significant shakes, motion, and vibrations, even when the video is captured in the middle of the action. You can strap it on to your bicycle, or hold it in your hand as you run, jump, skate or walk for those cool motion videos.
Cinematic mode (on the iPhone 13 and iPhone 14 series)
One of the most memorable moments during the iPhone 13 launch event in 2021 was the clever Knives Out (the Daniel Craig starrer) parody. It showed the Cinematic Mode feature of the then newly launched iPhone 13. It automatically transitions focus while filming in real time and thereby enables you to shift focus when subjects enter or leave the frame. You can edit the depth-of-field effect in video even after recording. Whether you’re shooting people or artistically plated food, Cinematic mode opens a whole host of options.
Photo Unblur (on the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro)
Google’s Pixel smartphones have led the way in computational photography. NightSight, Google’s proprietary lowlight photography solution is among the best on any smartphone. The Google Pixel 7 also has a Photo Unblur feature that is powered by the new Tensor G2 chip that is under the hood of the Google Pixel. It fixes blurry images that you might shoot on the phone. All you have to do is tap on the ‘unblur’ option. You can also use it to fix images shot on other smartphones.
100x Zoom (on the Samsung S22 Ultra)
I still remember snapping images of an elusive black panther with the 10x Optical zoom at the Kabini wildlife sanctuary. That moment showcased the value of a telephoto lens on a smartphone cam and being ‘in the moment’. The S22 Ultra allows you to shoot up to 100x zoom (digital zoom) that can be particularly handy when you’re shooting wildlife or intricate details in large monuments from a distance.
150-degree field of view (on the OnePlus 10 Pro)
This is one of my favourite features on the OnePlus 10 Pro. OnePlus tied up with iconic Swedish brand Hasselblad (which has a 180-year history) for the 10 Pro. You can shoot on this unique lens in two modes including a cool fish-eye lens mode that is perfect for landscapes.
Microscope Lens (on the OPPO F21 Pro)
This camera feature might remind you of those times in your school’s Biology lab. The 2MP microscope lens is part of the triple rear cam and takes you even closer than some of the cool Macro lenses on devices like the iPhone and Google Pixel. You can shoot on 15X and 30X modes. It takes a little while to figure but once you get past the learning curve it’s fun to use.