Mobile Photography Tips – Stability

Though I have a DSLR and several other cameras, I still really enjoy taking photos with my iPhone.  I always have it with me, and it gives me the ability to shoot, edit, and upload, all within a few minutes while I am out for a walk.  The photos showcased on sites like prove that it’s possible to take really nice pictures with a mobile phone.  But it isn’t necessarily as easy as it can be with other cameras, and one of the big challenges is stability.

The iPhone camera can deliver a nice image, but any camera movement can produce a blurry photo.  Unfortunately, the action of tapping on the shutter button on the screen usually causes the iPhone to move slightly just as the photo is being taken.  Unlike some other cameras, the iPhone does not have any optical image stabilization to counteract camera movement.

Here are some ways to reduce or eliminate camera movement on the iPhone:

  1. Press – hold – lift.   When using the built-in camera app, it is not the press on the shutter button that takes the picture, it is the action of lifting your finger back off the on-screen button.  If you press the button, hold your finger on it for a moment, then very gently lift it back off, you can trigger the photo with the minimum of camera motion
  2. Use the volume-up button.  Pressing the volume-up (+) hardware button will also take a photo, but it does it on the down-press, not the lift-up.   If you hold the phone in both hands and carefully press the volume-up button, you may be able to take a photo with less camera movement than when pressing the on-screen button.
  3. Use the volume-up button on your headphones.  If you have the type of headphones that have a separate volume control on the headphone cord, you can also use the volume-up button on the headphones that to take a photo.  This is even better than the volume-up button on the iPhone, because it is possible to press the button on the headphones without moving the iPhone at all.  Use a tripod (see below), or stand the iPhone up against something, and you can take a photo without any camera movement.
  4. Use a timer.  Some iPhone apps like Camera+ have a timer feature that allows the photo to trigger a certain number of seconds after pressing the button.  If you use the timer, you can press the button, then concentrate on holding the iPhone steady with both hands while the photo is taken.
  5. Use a stabilizer feature.  Apps like Camera+ also have a feature that will use the motion-sensor in the iPhone to wait until the camera is still before taking the photo.   This is a great feature, and sometimes it will show you how hard it can be to hold the iPhone still enough.
  6. Brace the iPhone against something.  I do this all the time — if I don’t have a tripod with me, I will hold the iPhone against a wall, sign, etc. to help steady it.
  7. Use a tripod.  The Glif tripod mount will let you attach your iPhone to a standard tripod.  This is a great combination with a small GorillaPod because it can all fit in a pocket.  Of course, while using a tripod you should use either the timer method or the headphone volume-up method to trigger the photo.  Pressing the screen with your finger and moving the phone defeats the purpose of using a tripod.

I hope these tips help you take better iPhone photos.