Ever wished you could get even more out of your smartphone camera?
We've been told for years that these convenient devices will take the place of bulky cameras and lenses. And it's true, camera phones have improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. But there are still just some functions we don't have access to at the moment. Some innovative minds have tried to address these shortcomings. The result is some creative smartphone camera hacks. Most of these tricks are about giving your photos a unique or professional look. Others are just fun and inventive ways to capture memories. Then there are some that showcase functions you might not even know your phone had hidden. And we've assembled a few of our favorites to give you the most out of your device.
A Bit About Smartphone Camera Hacks
Whether you're looking for convenience or enhanced quality, smartphone camera hacks have you covered. Then there are a few that just show off some smart stuff your phone can do with its camera. There are a few different categories of assistance these tricks offer. But they all have a couple of things in common.
They're Easy to Master
It doesn't matter how helpful a tip is if you can't figure out how to implement it. So in order to be an effective smartphone camera hack, it has to be accessible. This means it won't require a lot of external accessories. Many of these can be performed with no additional equipment, or just common household items. Plus, once you learn how they're done, you can figure it out from there. No need for a tech or photography background to get the most out of these tips.
They Provide Clear Results
Like any supposed hacks, these tricks seek to squeeze the last drop out of your device. Some may seem ingenious. There are others that are so simple you might kick yourself for not recognizing them sooner. But no matter where they fall on that scale, the best smartphone camera hacks produce results. Whether that means high quality images or easier selfies, we all have our wish lists. So take a look at our favorites and decide which can help elevate your images.
They Meet a Specific Need
Gadgets might be fun to play with even if they are otherwise useless. But that's not what we were looking for in our favorite smartphone camera hacks. We want something that will step in as a workable solution to a real problem. Most of us try to recycle as much as we can anyway. These tricks will allow you to use leftover items or find a new purpose for something you already have. Either way, you win for a few reasons. You've saved some cash and hassle in the short term. You might even reduce a little unwanted waste. And you solve an actual problem, walking away like you outsmarted the universe.
Here are some of our favorite smartphone camera hacks to improve your photo game.
Whether you're just capturing memories or trying to launch a business, you want quality. And chances are, your phone has more potential than you even know. Luckily, we've got access to hackers who are doing the work that really matters. They have allowed us to really explore the tech at work within our devices. And now that we're using these tricks, our Instagram feeds look more professional than ever!
1. Use an actual pinhole for a pinhole camera effect.
The pinhole effect is really common to recreate an old fashioned look to any photo. While it is easy to add this look through a filter, we like to go analog. The pinhole camera earned its name through its most prominent feature. And it's literally all you need to make the same look appear over your next photo. Give it the darkened edges of an old time image by poking a small hole in cardboard or paper. Then place that hole directly over your phone's camera lens. The ease and effect of this trick make it one of our favorite smartphone camera hacks.
2. Get a great underwater shot by grabbing a jar.
Maybe you're heading to the beach or the pool and want to bring back some incredible underwater shots. We understand why you might be nervous about dunking your expensive cellphone. Even if your device is labeled waterproof, we suggest taking extra precaution before submerging it. One of our favorite smartphone camera hacks involves securing your phone in an ordinary jar. Make sure the lid is twisted on tightly and feel free to dip away. Of course, you'll need a remote unless you set your camera to automatically snap pictures. But you can definitely get some interesting shots. Depending on the shot you're looking for, you might want to weight it down so it will sink easier.
3. Those auto sun shades provide lighting in a pinch.
You probably already know about the impressive heat reduction these things provide. But foil sun screens can also be recycled as smartphone camera hacks. If you're taking an outdoor shot but need some additional lighting, grab one of them. Then position it like you would in an professional studio. Direct the light reflection where you need it to go. It won't perform as perfectly as a tool designed for this effect. But it does actually work. And sometimes the imperfections actually lead to a more interesting composition. Plus, when you're done it can go back to serving double duty in your windshield.
4. Bypass drone restrictions with good old fashioned helium.
We'd never suggest violating any state or local ordinances. So always check before launching anything in the sky. But with drone regulations growing more restrictive, some innovative folks are looking for alternatives. And as it turns out, many of them are reverting to the periodic table. Lighter than air and easy to contain, helium is becoming a more popular for amateur aerial photogs. Again, you'll need a remote way to snap pictures from the sky. But those are easier than ever to come by. And the results can be breathtaking. Sure, it's harder to direct them than a drone. But we think it can be as much fun. Plus, you might just end up with some once in a lifetime images you couldn't recreate if you tried.
5. Sometimes your camera lens needs shade, too.
Maybe you're looking for a bit of gradient coloring in your images. As it turns out, the same polarized lenses used in many sunglasses match devices that achieve the effect. This is one of our favorite smartphone camera hacks because it's so simple and foolproof. We'll admit, some of the other tips are kind of hit and miss. They work, but not always reliably. No matter when we try this trick, though, we get the intended results. Just put the polarized lens of your sunglasses in front of the camera lens. Click away and you'll probably be anxious to share your unique composition.
6. Capture tiny critters by teaming up with a microscope.
This is one of the more surprising smartphone camera hacks on our list. Admittedly, many of you won't have a microscope handy. But this is a good trick to keep in mind just in case the opportunity arises. Your smart device's camera lens will align pretty snugly with eyepiece. That means you should be able to accurately capture microscopic organisms and substances. Just slide your phone up against the microscope and click away. If you have something cool under a slide at the other end, it should show up. This is a unique method to use that most photographers -- amateur and pro -- probably haven't used.
7. There's more than one way to snap a pic.
And we'll end with perhaps the most practical of our smartphone camera hacks. If you've ever struggled to manually snap a selfie or other photo with the on screen button, stay tuned. You might not know that most phones also offer the option to click the shutter with your volume control. Sorry if this comes as old news to you, but we realized many folks don't know about this one. And once we started using it, we never went back. It makes clicking a photo from virtually any angle a breeze. Give it a shot, see if it makes the process easier for you like it did for us.
We can't guarantee you'll win any photography contests with our smartphone camera hacks, but it's worth a shot.
But we have found these tricks helpful in a variety of specific cases. If you like to take a lot of photos with your phone, we hope you get some use out of these tips. Share our list with the shutterbugs in your life. And leave a comment below if you have any thoughts or questions.
Related Article: Smartphone Hacks You Couldn't Imagine Living Without