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A Blog for Cell Phone Camera Enthusiasts

I am an amateur photographer and video recorder, and since I always carry my my iPhone with me, I’ve spent a lot of time finding tips to improve my iPhone photography and videos. Because I work at a cell phones repair shop, so I am quite familiar with cell phone guts. For instance, did you know that the iPhone video camera has a higher potential bitrate (for video recording) than Apple’s camera app allows you to use. In other words, if you use a different video app, you can record higher quality videos from your iPhone.

Here are my suggestions for taking better videos with your iPhone.

First of all, since the Apple camera app doesn’t allow you to access the higher bitrate, try another app. There are plenty to choose from, but make sure you can access the higher bitrates. Filmic Pro is one I use. You can visit the Filmic Pro website to see some amazing videos shot with only an iPhone 6 camera.

Now that you’ve got a decent video app, you need to set the scene. Lighting is of utmost importance, so be sure you know where your light sources are, and what kind of light is available. Sunlight is best, but not when directly in the sunlight. Be aware of shadows particularly if you are videoing outdoors. If you are videoing something that isn’t moving around a lot, as in an interview or a video blog post, then you can adjust and lock the auto-focus and auto-exposure. If you have taken video with your iPhone, you’ve probably had the focus change when the subject you are taking video moved to the side or leaned in slightly. Everything gets blurry, then slowly refocuses. Or everything gets darker suddenly and then slowly readjusts back to how it was to begin with. Locking the focus and exposure prevents this from happening. you don’t want to use these features if you are videoing while you or your subject is moving around much.

Again, if you are taking video for your video blog or something, then another tool you should use is a mount. There are a variety of types of mounts that you can use for keeping the phone steady as you video. Be sure to mount to something that will stay steady. If you are in the wind, mounting to a flimsy tree won’t help as it may sway in the wind. Likewise, don’t mount on a table if jostling around may cause the table to move.

Battery life is an important factor. If you are using a higher bitrate, and filming for extended time, then you will run your battery down in no time. Here are some suggestions. Obviously, you can keep it plugged into a power source. You can use an external battery pack, as well. Most importantly, you’ll want to put your phone in Airplane Mode. This will prevent phone call interruptions, as well as disable many of the typical battery drains that compete for your precious battery life.

Keep these tips in mind when you video and you’ll be surprised at the quality of your resulting videos.

August 15th, 2015

Posted In: Tips

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We’ve become accustomed to using our phones for just about everything. It seems like every week a new revolutionary app is announced. So what about the old fashioned camera app? It’s been around a while, but it once was one of those revolutionary smartphone features. But it’s not obsolete, we just have to be creative in how we use it. Here are a list of our favorite unintended uses for the cell phone camera.

Little Words

When you get a bit older… OK a lot older, your vision goes. Just reading the menu at a candlelit table can be a real chore. Forget reading the fine print on a contract or the nutrition details on your can of Hormel Chili. We’ve found the answer. You can use your camera to zoom on the type. You don’t even need to take the picture, just hover your phone over the words, and use your fingers to zoom. Voila! Everything’s nice and big for us elderly to read.

Those Pesky To Do Lists

Do you have a To-Do List app on your phone? I do, in fact I’ve got three or four. How many do I use? None, I have to admit. It’s just not easy to give up the pen and paper, or the DayRunner calendar for writing down what you need. Besides, I’m usually on my cell phone at the time I need to jot something down. So what do you do. Take a picture of your notes or to-do list. This also saves you from having to lug your DayRunner around. I hate the feeling you get when you arrive at the grocery store, just to remember you left your grocery list on the table. Forget bringing the list, just snap a photo. Then delete it when you’re done with it.

What’s That On My Back?

If you’ve ever gotten a scratch or bug bite or other unknown affliction in an area of your body you can’t view, you know how annoying it can be to wonder what it looks like. Is it bleeding? Is there puss? Is it red? Oh the curiosity! If you could only see it. If you’ve got the flexibility and/or a selfie stick, you can. Reach around and take a picture of it. Since you can’t see where you are taking a picture, you may have to try a few times. Depending on what and where you are photographing, it might be a good idea to delete the pictures before you forget.

What’s Behind There?

My dog bumped his ball under a shelf in a place where I couldn’t see where it was, and it was an odd angle for me to stick my hand under it waving around trying to find it, besides, I might run my hand into a nest of spider or something awful like that. So I used my camera phone at different angles to get a good feel for where it might be. Sure enough, I was able to locate it right away by viewing my pictures. I don’t want to talk about the dust monsters and random artifacts that were also there. I think I might have seen a mummy in one of my pictures. No spiders, happily.

This also works for peeking around the corner if you are trying to avoid someone that you saw coming your way. You can reach your phone around the corner, snap a photo and see if he/she is gone yet. This tactic actually works against you at night. Flashes tend to draw attention. Just sayin’.

Where Did I Park?

That’s pretty self-explanatory. If you are going to be away from your car for a few hours or all day (or 5 minutes for us elderly folks), you might forget exactly where you parked. No need for a fancy app, just take a picture with a recognizable landmark or garage section numbers in it. Done, go enjoy your shopping!

Some ideas that didn’t make the cut…

  1. Take a picture of the guy trying to mug you at night so the flash temporarily blinds him, allowing you to escape. You have his picture now, too.
  2. Taking a picture after you’ve gone to the bathroom to show to your doctor. That’s just not right!
  3. Taking a close up of a bug, spider or snake. You really don’t want to be that close to one of those critters.
  4. Trying to take a picture of the guy who cut you off in traffic. It’s not worth it, not to mention, you’ll never get a good enough picture of the license plate because there’s too much motion. That’s what we’ve heard, anyway.
  5. Taking a picture up your nose to see where that booger disappeared to.

 

August 10th, 2015

Posted In: Tips

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