The Samsung Galaxy S5 is one of the top camera phones currently on the market. With a multitude of editing features packed into the device from real-time HDR functionality to variable metering modes, the GS5 is well on the way to making the traditional compact camera all but obsolete. But while this is a photographer’s dream camera phone, how easy is it for the casual snapper to make the most of their top-tier device to take great photos? Here are a few of our top tips on how to take better photos with the Samsung Galaxy S5.
With such a high spec, you probably won’t be disappointed with the shots you get using the tried and tested point and shoot method. However, taking a few minutes to learn some of the GS5’s key features and settings can really help provide your great shots with that added wow-factor.
As a basic first step, by tapping the ‘gear’ icon in the camera’s viewfinder, you can adjust your default settings to your personal preferences. This will help you to get the style of photo you like, without needing to make constant adjustments for your everyday snaps.
By dragging your three most frequently used settings onto the dash you can adjust these even more quickly. Once you’ve sorted out your defaults, you’re ready to explore the GS5’s real potential!
Experiment with the real-time HDR and exposure settings
HDR (or High Dynamic Range) functionality – where the camera takes multiple shots at various exposure levels and combines the results into a single shot with balanced contrast – can now be found in many smartphones. The advantage of the GS5 over most other camera phones is that you can view what your HDR picture will look like in the camera interface before taking the snap.
The HDR function will be most effective in settings with bright light and darker areas in the same scene. However you may not want to use it all of the time as it can lead to unrealistic images. To toggle the HDR setting on and off, simply open your settings (if you haven’t retained HDR as a default shortcut) and tap the icon that looks like the sun and cloud overlapping.
With the HDR function turned off, you can try manually adjusting the exposure in the settings menu. This will allow more or less light into your picture, depending on the effect you are trying to achieve. To adjust the exposure, open the settings and scroll all the way to the bottom. Here you will find a range from a minimum exposure of -2 EV (little light creating dark shots or silhouettes), to a maximum of +2 EV (lots of light which can ‘blow out’ the brightest areas of the picture).
You may also wish to experiment with Metering Modes in your settings which allows you to choose which area of the photo has the optimal exposure. The default setting is ‘center-weighted’ which optimises exposure on the central portion of the picture, but you can change this to matrix (exposure spread evenly) or spot (exposure optimised on a single, focal point) depending on your subject matter.
Utilise Selective Focus
The GS5 allows you to add great depth to your photos by activating the Selective Focus function. Quirky artistic effects can also be created by using Selective Focus to blur out the foreground or background of your picture.
To get the most out of this function you should ensure that the subject of your picture is within 1.5 feet of the camera. The background should be at least a further 4.5 feet further back in order to enable the camera to pick out the depth of field.
Selective Focus must be activated before taking the shot. To toggle it on, tap the icon of two human silhouettes in the settings menu (or on the camera interface if you have retained it as a default shortcut). With Selective Focus on and your picture composed, tap the foreground object on your camera interface then take your snap and wait for the handset to process. Next, open up the image you’ve just taken in your gallery and tap the edit picture icon in the top left corner.
You will see three focus options; near (foreground object in focus, background blurred out), far (background in focus, foreground object blurred out) and pan (everything in focus). Select the effect you want and tap ‘done’ to save changes.
Try applying different effects
To add those finishing touches to your snaps, it’s worth familiarising yourself with some of the effects and editing options on the GS5.
Many of the effects such as ‘Fish Eye’ and ‘Moody’ can be viewed in real-time, meaning you can see what your picture will look like before you capture it. To trial different effects, simply tap the icon that looks like a magic wand in the camera’s settings menu and play around to see which ones you like.
Further arty filters such as ‘Pop Art’ and ‘Impressionists’ can be added once your picture is in your photo gallery; tap the icon of a polaroid next to a pencil, then tap the magic wand icon to see your options.
If you can’t resist the occasional selfie, but are afraid the GS5’s 2.1MP front-facing camera might provide a few more details than you’d like, you might like to take advantage of the Beauty Face feature. With Beauty Face activated you have the post-editing option of airbrushing any unwanted blemishes with five levels of intensity to choose from. To activate Beauty Face simply tap the sparkly head icon on the right of your screen before taking your selfie.
Conclusion: How to take Better Photos with the Samsung Galaxy S5
By taking a few minutes to experiment with the top tips we’ve set out above, you can easily turn your great GS5 snaps into professional looking masterpieces. Once you’ve had a play around with some of the key features such as HDR and exposure, Selective Focus and different effects, you might like to go back and adjust your personal setting defaults to reflect your stylistic preferences.
Of course, the GS5 has many more features to enhance the quality of your photos that we haven’t been able to cover here. There are some excellent blogs which include tips on how to use Shot and More mode to airbrush out those annoying photobombers as well as more general tips such as how to shoot great pictures in low lighting.
Have fun snapping away and don’t forget to post your own top tips for getting great pics with the Samsung Galaxy S5 in the comments below!