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How to take photos on your iPhone or mobile phone

Just got a brand new iPhone and fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer? Read through our tips to get the most out of your camera phone photos.

Just got a brand new iPhone and fancy yourself as a bit of a photographer? Read through our tips to get the most out of your camera phone photos.

Thought you couldn't take a decent shot with a mobile? Read on. (Credit: CBSi)

Steady on

Hold with two hands, release the button with one. (Credit: CBSi)

The interesting thing that sets the iPhone apart from other mobile phone cameras is that it will only take a photo when you release your finger from the shutter button on the screen, not when you first press it. This means you'll need to be as steady as possible when taking the shot.

Try standing still, with both feet firmly on the ground and if you're taking a landscape-orientated shot, grasp the camera firmly with both hands. Sometimes, steadying yourself against a wall or taking a deep breath and holding it before you release the shutter will help steady your body.

If your mobile phone camera has an in-built flash — congratulations, you can take photos in low light situations. If you have an iPhone, you're going to have to make do with available light. Try and find a situation that's as well lit as possible with ample light falling on the subject. If there isn't enough light, the shutter has to stay open for longer to let more light in and, subsequently, amplifying any shaking from your hands, resulting in a blurry mess.

In focus

That said, the iPhone 3G has a relatively wide aperture (f/2.8), which means it can let more light in. However, both the aperture and focal length are fixed, so they can't change.

This means that you won't be able to take really sharp shots at a close distance — if you want to try your hand at some macro photography you'll need to use a third-party application (or track down some accessories to add on to your iPhone, like external macro lenses that can attach via another case or magnetically).

Try and choose a subject to focus on that's at least 1 metre away from the camera for the best, sharpest results. The 3GS goes some way to rectifying the focusing issue though — you can now tap the screen to select where you want to focus.

Shutter noise

Silence that shutter. (Credit: CBSi)

A little known but very useful tip that's applicable to all mobile phones, not just the iPhone — turn off the shutter noise if you can.

When you take a picture, the phone will usually give you some sort of shutter noise to let you know the shot has been taken. More often than not, the phone will make this sound before it has actually taken and processed the image, so if you move the phone immediately after you hear the sound your shot can still be blurry. Hold the camera still until the final image is shown on the screen.


Sometimes when you know there's not enough light for the phone to take a decent picture, or you want to get a little more creative, try adding a sense of movement and blur in your shots. Panning is moving your camera along the same trajectory as your subject. So say, for example, you are standing on the side of the road and watching cars go past, move your phone at the same pace as the car is travelling, whilst taking the photo. You can achieve some really interesting effects with this method.

Keep trying

The old adage "if at first you don't succeed" is totally relevant when it comes to photography and the same principles apply with iPhone images. Take lots of photos of the same thing from different viewpoints, try to see images in the things around you, and keep snapping.

Need some inspiration? Check out our feature on iPhone photography: Art or Gimmick?