I use my phone for photography more than my DSLR these days. The phone can’t match the DSLR for quality, but I don’t always have my big camera with me. To make up for that quality gap a bit, I’ve found tools to improve the photos I take with my phone–the camera I always have right in my pocket. Here are the three tools that have helped me to take my phone photography to the next level:
1. Ollo Clip
The Ollo Clip is a removable lens that pops onto your phone camera. Mine is the original 3-in-1 lens with a fisheye, marco, and wide-angle micro option, but there’s a new 4-in-1 version that includes two different macro lenses.
I took four different versions of the same photo so you can get an idea of what the different lenses are capable of doing:
This is a chocolate mint photo I took without the ollo lens, as a control photo.
This was taken with the macro wide-angle lens, and you can see that the photo includes a much wider frame (almost double!), even though I’m taking the photo the same distance from the mint as in the control photo. This lens is great for capturing a bigger picture: great for landscape photos where you want to fit as much as possible in! There is some distortion around the edges, so keep that in mind.
I couldn’t take the macro photo from the same hight, as it would just be a big blur. This lens is for the up close and personal shots– great for getting in amazing detail and for taking photos of tiny things. It also gives you amazing boca (blur in the background).
Last, the fisheye. This can capture an even wider picture than the micro lens, but at the price of even greater distortion. The photos come out like you’re looking in a crystal ball. This photo was taken at the same distance away from the mint as in the macro and non-ollo photos.
When I’m using these lenses, they are for very specific purposes. I use the wide-angle macro lens to get in a bigger picture and capture as much of a landscape as possible. This lens is my go-to when I’m shooting outside in big spaces. (Jake took this one.)
I use the macro lens to get very, very close. I still can’t believe I took this photo of a caterpillar with my phone. It’s amazing.
I go for the fisheye when I want to capture a lot of my environment in a cramped space, when I’m too close to something to get the whole picture otherwise. This is also really great for taking pictures of whole-spaces in tiny rooms!
It can make things look pretty epic too.
I really love the Ollo Clip, as it gives my phone camera far more range and is an easy little thing to pop into my pocket. The only downside is that I have to remove my phone case first, which means that using the Ollo for spur of the moment shots isn’t as possible. My version was $50, so it’s the by far the most expensive of these 3 Tools. I’ve certainly gotten my money’s worth over the past year and a half and highly recommend the investment if you use your phone for photography often.
*Sorry, Android folks! For now, Ollo only has versions for iDevices. (There are different clips for the iPhone 4/4s, 5, and iPads).
My favorite phone editing app by far is Afterlight. With this app, you can manually adjust photo clarity, brightness, contrast, exposure, color balance, noise, fade, vignette, temperature, sharpening, and more. You can add a wide variety of photo filters, can crop to a variety of ratios, and can add a series of helpful photo frames. It’s a pretty cool tool.
I use this app most often to improve dark photos or those with a very off color balance. Here’s an example of how I use Afterlight to brighten and improve color vibrancy of a photo.
I thought it would be fun to include an improved version of the control chocolate mint photo. There’s not a HUGE difference, as the original photo was taken with natural light and wasn’t too shabby, but the post-edited version still has subtle improvements.
I also use Afterlight often to add white frames to the sides of my 3×4 ratio photos so I can have a square image to use on Instagram.
Ringing up at 99 cents, there’s really no reason for you iPhone users to not buy this right now. When you can’t get just-right conditions for great phone photos, this app can help you to improve your so-so photos exponentially.
An Android version for this app is coming sometime in 2014. You can sign up for a newsletter to be informed when it is out!
I also hear good things about Pic Tap Go for phone editing, but I havn’t tried it because I’m a less-is-more person when it comes to apps. Leave your review of this one or any other favorite phone editing apps in the comments section!
The GorillaPod is a flexible camera tripod–it comes with all sorts of versions, but I went with the simple grip tight version for smart phones. I love that the flexibility of the legs can help me to position the camera to get just the photo I want and–bonus–it wraps around things so you can still get a great photo when you’ve got, say, a railing to work with but nothing to set the phone down on.
This is the newest thing added to my iPhonography tool box. It was recommended by Christine, a student in My Details ecourse and my friend Kam also added her stamp of approval. I bought mine on sale for around $18, but they typically run around $30.
I love not having to try to find things to use to prop my phone up. I’ve been able to capture shots I never would have gotten otherwise, like this photo of Jake and I checking out our hotel view in Philly. The Gorrilla Pod is securely wrapped around the railing of the balcony!
I use it most often with the Timer Cam app to get myself into the picture–either in group photos or by myself.
Having a tripod is not just beneficial for better selfies– it also helps you to capture a clearer picture in low light situations.
Those are my favorite tools for improving phone photography! What are your favorites?
P.S. If you want to learn more about the technical aspects of phone photograhpy to improve your photos, I recommend Kara’s class Click Your Life and/or Big Picture Classes’ iPhone Photography Project 2*