Nokia’s Lumia phones have some of the best cameras, and devices like the Lumia 925, 928 and the 920 also come with optical image stabilisation. While these devices do a reasonable job with the default settings, the cameras really come into their own if you are willing to play around the settings a little bit. On Nokia’s Lumia devices you cannot tap the screen to set the exposure, so if you are shooting against the sun or a bright light, things sometimes get a little challenging.
While there are lots of settings that you can change: ISO, Exposure, Scene Mode, White Balance, Aspect Ratio and Focus Assist Light – there are two that I want to concentrate on. Most people (including me) prefer shooting with the default options as its faster, and one couldn’t be bothered with fiddling around with the controls everytime.
However, when you do have the extra second, I recommend you just keep two controls in mind while taking photos – Scene Mode and Exposure.
SCENE MODE – BACKLIGHT
While there are lots of screen modes, like close up, Night, Night Portrait, Sports and Backlight – in your everyday usage just keep ‘Backlight’ in mind. We all end up shooting against the light, sometimes its a bulb indoors, or the sun outdoors. If you shoot with the default settings, this is what you can expect.
In this example there is no person present, so the photo doesn’t look so bad. However, if a person were standing you’d be hard pressed to make out his face. Enter the backlight mode.
As you can see, the difference is immense and the photos is much brighter overall.
Moving onto exposure. If you have a OIS capable Lumia (eg. Lumia 920, 928), the device leaves the shutter open for longer when it senses that you’re shooting at night. This is usually a good thing, but when you are trying to photograph objects that have lights of their own, it can result it photos like this.
But if you adjust the exposure manually, and drop it down by a notch or two (depending on the situation) you can get a much nicer looking result.
This becomes even more important, when you’re trying to capture the Las Vegas skyline that’s packed with lights.
A little tweaking of the exposure, and you get a photo that’s easily wallpaper material. There are very few non Nokia camera phones in the market (if any) that can give you a result as impressive as this.
As you can see, just remembering to switch to the backlight scene mode and adjusting the exposure can make a big difference in the quality of photos. Both of these things take less than 5 seconds to change, and you’ll do well to remember these tweaks.
If you’re feelings slightly more adventurous, the ISO settings can help in low light situations – a higher ISO brings more light, but at the cost of noise. But since there is OIS in some models (shutter stays open for longer and brings more light), you can sometimes get away with using a low ISO (so as to reduce noise), to get that perfect zero noise low light shot.
The White Balance mode can usually be left at auto. Thus, the key to much better photos on your Lumias is two fold – remembering to use the backlight mode, and exposure control when shooting in low light.
Have any other tips? Let us know in the comments section!