Making the Most from your Camera Gear
Taking photos is a crucial part of being a content creator. Regardless of the kind of content you generate, we all have to agree that taking good quality photos will make a difference between okay content and great content.
Should you get fancy new gear to produce great material? Short answer: No! If you have some hundred dollars to spend and if you want to have a fancy year, feel free. However, we will talk about how to make the most with your current gear.
There are four basic elements you should know when taking photos:
- ISO – the measure of a digital camera sensor's sensitivity to light.
- Aperture – the size of the opening in the lens when a picture is taken.
- Shutter Speed – the amount of time that the shutter is open.
The combination of the first three elements is what you have heard as the exposure. The fourth element is:
- Focal Length - the distance between the center of a lens or curved mirror and its focus.
Some Basic Tips
You do not need to be an expert photographer to produce good content, however, it is always a good idea to keep this in mind.
- Keep the ISO as low as possible. An ISO with a value of 100 is less sensitive to light rather than a 16000 ISO. If you are shooting a photo in a dark environment, you will likely need to raise this value. Do it carefully, rising the ISO has a tradeoff: a higher iso introduces noise to the image.
- If you want a sharp background, use higher aperture values. If you are using f/2 (of f2, depending on your gear), you will notice the background is very fuzzy. As you raise this value, you will see that taking the same photo will get a sharper background. Please note that if you go with an f/22 (or higher) you may get a distraction effect with the lights (stars). If this is not what you want in your content, you should decrease it until they disappear.
- If you are hand-holding your gear, a shooter speed slower than 1/30 s could show you ghost borders.
- You may need to use shooter speed faster than 1/250 if you are photographing yourself in action.
- A short focal length will allow you to get wider photos. You do not need to put your gear far from you with a short focal length. You can see the focal length as the zoom, zooming out means decreasing the focal length, zooming in means increasing the focal length.
Available Gears to Create Great Content
Let's see some camera specs of the most common gear available, and see what can be useful to create great content.
Google Pixel 4 (XL)
Both the standard version or the XL one comes with the following camera specifications:
- Selfie camera: 8 MP, f/2.0, 22mm (wide)
- Main camera: 12.2 MP, f/1.7, 27mm (wide) and 16 MP, f/2.4, 50mm (telephoto) with 2x optical zoom
You may want to use the selfie camera only if it is really close to you (less than a meter). Because of the 8 MP, which is quite low, you may notice that if you put it more than that, some details of your photos will start to lose sharpness. The f/2.0 aperture will allow you to take photos focusing on the first plane while the background will start showing blurry. The 22 mm focal length, it is considered to be a wide one, this will allow you to take a photo of more than one person without moving away from the camera.
Google Pixel 4 is one of the first phones that started to give you two cameras on the rear part of the gear. Because of mobile technology, everything must be a small size. Placing a lens that could give you optical focal lengths from 27mm to 50mm is impossible. Single-real-camera cellphones show a disadvantage when you are zooming in, digital zooms are not the best to create high-quality content, it starts pixelating at some point. The telephone will switch to one camera and the other depending on your zoom.
The 12 and 16 MegaPixel is a good start for today's photo quality. f/1.7 with a 27mm combination will allow you to take photos very close to the subject (less than one meter) while maintaining a blurry background. The 50mm lens will is perfect for portraits, combining with the f/2.4, you will be able to get photos where your main subject (maybe you) will stand from the elements.
Google Pixel 4 also gives you Night Mode, this means the photo is post-processed to enhance it, mainly in situations where there is no enough light. Take in mind that night mode also has a tradeoff, you won't be able to photograph things on movement with it.
You can read the full spec of Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL in the following links:
Samsung Galaxy S10
This is another phone that gives more than one lens in the rear part. The camera specifications are as follow:
- Selfie camera: 10 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide) (standard and plus version), or
32 MP, f/2.2, 25mm (wide) (for lite version), or
10 MP, f/1.9, 26mm (wide) (for e-version)
- Main camera: 12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto) with 2x optical zoom, 16 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide) (standard and plus version), or
48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 12 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide), 5 MP, f/2.4, 25mm (macro) (for lite version), or
12 MP, f/1.5-2.4, 26mm (wide), 16 MP, f/2.2, 12mm (ultrawide) (for e-version)
As for the selfie camera, the Samsung Galaxy S10 lite seems to be the best, 32 MP gives a very detailed photo quality. Please try not to use the selfie camera from the standard, plus and e-versions, as 10 MP is quite low if you are looking to deliver very detailed content.
The rear camera for the four versions is okay, 12 MP is the minimum quality and it is quite enough to deliver detailed content. However, wider apertures from f/2.0 (for example f/1.5) will hardly give you sharp photos if you are photographing yourself in an exotic place where the background is worth being shown.
You can read the full specification of the Samsung Galaxy S10 in the following links:
Apple iPhone 11
iPhone is a very popular telephone. It comes with the following camera:
- Selfie camera: 12 MP, f/2.2, 23mm (wide)
- Main camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 12 MP, f/2.4, 13mm (ultrawide), or
12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 12 MP, f/2.0, 52mm (telephoto), with 2x optical zoom, 12 MP, f/2.4, 13mm (ultrawide) (PRO version)
Any version of this phone will deliver an acceptable quality photo in terms of megapixels. Because of the wide aperture on the main camera (f/1.8), you may find difficulty getting sharp photos in an open area. If you own the PRO version, do not hesitate on using the 52mm to shoot any content that has to be with portraits.
You can read the full specification of the Apple iPhone 11 in the following links:
Unless you want to do National Geographic Stuff, almost any DSLR camera body will be very useful for you. We will focus more on the type of lens you may need depending on the kind of content you want to produce. We will talk mainly focusing on the focal length.
Wide Lens (Short Focal Lenght)
The wide lens is usually the one that provides you 35mm or less of focal length. Some authors also talk about the super-wide lens for those that give less than 18mm.
This kind of lens is very handy if you want to photograph yourself with a background that is worth showing. For example, a photo of yourself on a trip to Niagara Falls, is worth showing the full background of where you are.
Standard Lens (Normal Focal Lenght)
A standard lens could be those that give you between 35mm and 85mm. Now, this range is very interesting, the reason is that between 35mm and 85mm you find similar apertures as the human eye. If you are looking forward to doing some amazing portraits, the 50mm focal length is what you are looking for. Depending on your composition, you may want a very sharp background (f/12) or a blurry one (f/1.8).
Tele Photo Lens (Long Focal Lenght)
Usually from 85mm and beyond. You will require this kind of focal length if you want to produce material where your subject is not close to you.
We will talk in more articles about how to produce great stuff for your readers.