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5 tips for taking perfect pictures with the OnePlus 5

The OnePlus 5 has a brilliant camera. Follow these tips to take your photography to the next level.

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The new OnePlus 5 has one of the best cameras you can get for its reasonable price. It can hold its own against the Apple iPhone 7 Plus and other top Android flagships. With a standard 16-megapixel shooter and a secondary 20-megapixel telephoto lens, this phone is capable of capturing some superb shots.

But resolution isn't everything and if you want to turn your everyday snaps into true works of art, you'll need to put some effort in too.

Here are tips for shooting better photos on the OnePlus 5.

1. Wait for the best light


By evening, this scene was filled with gorgeous, golden light.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

In photography, light is everything. Even the best phones struggle to capture anything when the lights go out. Your best shots then, will be when you're somewhere in good daylight -- even better in some summer sun, rather than grey, flat clouds. In good sunlight, colour in your shots will pop.

Time of day is important though. The midday sunlight can be overly powerful, causing harsh shadows that make your pictures look either too dark or too bright. If you're taking photos of friends, that harsh light will almost certainly cause them to squint their eyes shut, which is never a good look. Wait for evening light, when the sun's light takes on a golden hue and those harsh shadows become longer and beautifully diffused.

2. Take time to compose


I found a spot in the trees where I could use the leaves to frame this structure, making it look more like a composition than a quick snap.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Proper composition will transform your shot into a considered piece of artwork. You can tweak the colours, the brightness and the contrast using editing apps afterwards, but there's nothing you can do to change your composition. Rather than just firing away, take a moment to study your scene and think about how you can frame it best.

If you're shooting a landscape, look for some foreground interest (a nice wall, some ironwork, a rock formation, perhaps) to help jazz up the scene. You may need to move around a little too. Don't be afraid to kneel down or even get up to higher ground to find the best angle.

Turn on the 3x3 grid by going into the camera settings. It'll help you frame your shots using the classic photography "rule of thirds." Using the grid, you can line up the points of interest in your scene as you take the shot.

3. Close in on the details


The OnePlus 5 can focus really close up on small objects, letting me capture a lovely shot of this bee.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Using the telephoto zoom lens, the OnePlus 5 is able to take amazing macro photos, getting up close and personal with even the smallest subjects and keeping them in sharp focus.

In the standard camera mode, tap the 2X icon to zoom in, then move the phone close to your subject. (Keep in mind this zoom is one part 1.6X optical zoom and one-part fancy software rendering to bring you up to 2X.) You'll need to tap to focus on the subject, but you can also tap and hold to lock the focus in place so you can take multiple shots quickly without having to refocus.

Try using the zoom lens for macro photography when you find interesting flowers, leaves, insects or anything small that has interesting colours, patterns and textures.

4. Go Pro for more creative shots


In Pro Mode, you can shoot with slow shutter speeds which turn moving lights -- such as on this London bus -- into blurred streaks.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Change the shooting mode to "Pro Mode" if you want manual control of camera settings. Here, you're able to alter shutter speed, white balance and exposure yourself, giving you the creative freedom to play around for unusual results.

My favourite thing to do is to capture car light trails at night by turning the shutter speed right down. By choosing a speed of around four seconds, an object's movement in a scene (in this instance, car headlights) will blur across the frame as they move. It's a great way of capturing city streets at night.

When you're using a slow shutter speed, you'll need to keep the phone absolutely still while taking the photo. The smallest movement will blur the whole scene. I put the OnePlus five on a phone clamp on top of a small Manfrotto Pixi tripod to stabilise my shots.

You can also shoot photos in raw format in the Pro mode. Raw photos save more detail in the highlights and shadows of a scene, allowing you to tone down bright areas when editing afterwards. Shooting raw is handy for night-time shots, as it allowed me to lessen the bright headlights a touch while brightening up some of the surrounding shadow.

5. Edit to take your snaps to the next level


With just a few taps in Snapseed, I took this colour shot and produced a dramatic, black-and-white version. 

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Your photo isn't necessarily finished once you've clicked that shutter button. There's plenty more you can do with it using the huge variety of editing apps available on the Google Play Store.

A couple of my favourites are Snapseed, which is great for fine-tuning brightness, colours and contrast in a scene. VSCO has a great range of colour filters available that give your shots a film-like look.

There's no right or wrong way to edit photos, so it's good practice to play around with all the different settings and filters in your apps to see what suits you best. You can even load an edited shot from one app into another to apply further effects for more dramatic results. Just be sure to have an original file to revert back to if you don't like what you've done.