Remember when cell phone cameras were considered luxury accessories? It didn’t matter if the pictures looked like pixilated Polaroids. They had a camera, and that, in itself, was amazing.
Today, most of us expect our phones, even basic ones, to come with cameras. If you’re looking at smartphones though, the quality of the camera may make a big difference in the one you choose to purchase. Here is a guide for comparing cell phone cameras.
Cell phone companies promote the idea of “the more, the better” when it comes to megapixels. Megapixels determine how many pixels (parts of an image) a camera can capture. If the capture area is 4,000 pixels by 3,000 pixels, then multiplying those two figures comes to 12 million pixels. That would be a 12 megapixel camera, or 12 MP.
While it is true that having more megapixels should lead to better images, that is not always the case. There are other aspects of a cell phone’s camera that will determine how well it works. If you are considering a smartphone, look for something with 8 MP to 24 MP. Anything beyond that probably isn’t necessary.
Optical zoom is ideal if you want to take a good close up picture, but most cell phones use digital zoom. That means that the phone will focus in on an object and then try to guess what is around it. Optical zoom actually reassesses the image once you have zoomed in and captures what it looks like. If you can manage to find a camera with optical zoom, you will likely get much better pictures.
Since the resolution for most cell phone pictures is fairly high, you can always take distance shots and then crop them down on your computer. All you need is some basic photo editing software. This is a good alternative if you do not want a phone with optical zoom or you don’t plan on zooming very often.
Some smartphone cameras come with image stabilization, which helps correct for the times when you move your hand too much. For instance, if you are on a boat where you cannot control the waves of the water, the phone will try to adjust to your motion as you take a picture. If you have naturally shaky hands, this will help your photos look better. You cannot rely on stabilization alone to deliver great images, but you can certainly benefit from having it.
Front Facing Cameras
Not all cell phones are equipped with front facing cameras, where you can see yourself on your screen while you take a picture. If you take a lot of selfies, you may want to look for a phone with a great front facing camera.
Some phone cameras allow you to add filters or change the brightness in your photos when you take a picture. You can do this with photo editing software if you’d rather, but this gives you the option to do everything on your phone. Some phones even have editing software built in so you can add text or make the picture look 3D.
Think about what you need in a cell phone camera and find a phone that accommodates your needs.