About Karsten Monroe

Half Dutch and half Canadian, Karsten is an enthusiastic workaholic photographer turned blogger. Architecture graduate, he is determined to make the most of his passion for photography and takes great pride from being a self-taught individual.

What is AUTOFOCUS? – A Beginner’s Guide

A seemingly standard option to any respectable camera, autofocus can make the difference between a well-taken shot and a missed opportunity. But what is autofocus more precisely and how does it work?


Simply put, autofocus is a camera system that appropriately adjusts the camera lens. The crucial thing here is reflected by the camera’s autofocus sensors. They are in charge of reaching accurate focus. By carefully calculating the changes in contrast, every sensor can better measure relative focus in a shot.


1. Passive and Active Autofocus

If you wish to know how to master your camera’s autofocus, there are a few basic things to begin with. There are two ways autofocus can work. Passive autofocus uses contrast sensors within the camera. Active autofocus, instead, employs two different means. It can either estimate the distances to the subject or make use of an emitted signal to illuminate the subject.

Passive autofocus relies mainly on contrast to achieve an accurate image. This is true regardless of the fact that passive autofocus can be done by either making use of contrast detection or phase detection.

Let’s take a further step and see how the autofocus works.

  • Before taking a shot, a small change appears in the focusing distance, made by the autofocus professor.
  • The autofocus sensors are read by the autofocus processor to estimate if the focus underwent improvement and by how much.
  • The lens is afterwards focused to a new distance after analyzing the processed information.
  • Until the desired focused has been reached, the autofocus processor may collect information from the sensors and calculate new focusing distances a couple of times.

It is important to keep in mind that these processes take little time to happen. Within mere seconds or less. The autofocus sensors are of two types. The cross type sensors are the most effective because they have a two-dimensional contrast detection and thus ensure higher accuracy.

On the other hand, vertical line sensors employ just one-dimensional contrast detection, resulting in a lower precision. Ironically, due to the nature of vertical line sensors (being able to detect contrast along a vertical line), they are the best when having to identify horizontal lines.

2. Autofocus Achievements

Autofocus is a program whose performances also rely on some factors. Alongside camera models, lenses or focus settings, a primary aspect to consider when taking a photo is the subject of the picture. The main factors that influence autofocus are composed, thus, of light levels, subject contrast, and subject or camera movement.

To achieve good autofocus, the central focus point usually must coincide with a sharp edge or pronounced texture. If the subject of the photo is involved in a rapid movement, then the focus should be set on the subject’s surroundings or a lower contrast focus point. Otherwise, the image’s subject would be out of focus, especially during a low-light rapid movement shot.

Another posing difficulty for autofocus performance is represented by timeframe, especially when the photo subject is not motionless. During the fast nature of the picture, the photographer sometimes must make the decision in the blink of an eye to capture the subject well.


3. Autofocus Accuracy

One of the most important details that influence the accuracy level is represented by autofocus points. Top of the line SLR cameras employ 45 or even more autofocus points. Others make use of even just one central autofocus point. Alongside their numbers, the positioning and type of autofocus points also have a significant impact.

Autofocus points work either as a whole or separately. As a whole, they improve the overall accuracy of a photograph, as in group photos, where a multitude of focus points can result in a well rounded overall level of focus. When used separately they develop particularities.

In the end, the usefulness of these autofocus points is given by the camera model. Although some features, such as the maximum aperture of the lens used, can also work to improve the overall quality and accuracy.

4. Autofocus Modes

Now it is time to discuss when it is best to employ autofocus modes such as ‘one shot’ for example. To begin with the basics, the ‘one-shot’ mode is primarily used when the subject of the photo is motionless. This is because ‘one-shot’ mode has a difficult time in tracking down movement.

When it comes to fast moving photo subject, the following is the best solution there is. Depending on the camera brand you are using, the terms ‘continuous‘ or ‘AI Servo‘ refer to the autofocus modes that enables photographers to adjust the focus distance for moving objects uninterrupted. It does this by calculating and predicting where the photo subject will be located, based on values of the subject speed in previous focus distances.

Lastly, the camera focuses in advance on the estimated distances where the subject will be located. Thus compensating for the lag between pressing the button to take the picture and the beginning of the exposure. Also, pay considerable attention when using this last option, as it can drastically reduce the camera’s battery life expectancy.


5. Autofocus Infrared Beams

Much modern up to date cameras employ what is called an autofocus assist beam. They are used to track down the subject, with the aid of infrared beams, in low contrast or light scenarios.

The type of infrared light source that is being used greatly depends on the camera type. Normal cameras have such built-in systems, while digital SLR camera can have either built-in or an external camera flash. However, they lack flexibility. In other words, such a system is only useful if the photo subject is motionless. In addition to that, autofocus infrared beams have one more weakness, they result in slower autofocus time frames.

Autofocus is an intelligent system that continuously improves alongside digital technology. Its applications are many, being especially useful when it comes to action photos in sports and more, as well as for portraits and other motionless frames. We hope that our article provided useful info and managed to explain what autofocus is both for beginners and more experienced hobbyists.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3.

How to Recover Deleted Pictures from SD Card

So you have accidentally deleted photos from your memory card and are now looking for a way to recover them? Rest assured, there are plenty of ways to do without having to stress out over how time-consuming this might be. Read our article on how to recover deleted pictures from SD card for simple, applicable tips on how to do get back those cherished immortalized memories.

  1. How To Recover Deleted Pictures from SD Card with Data Recovery Pro

Contrary to popular belief, even though you accidentally delete photos from an SD Card, they aren’t permanently deleted. They still exist on the lower levels of your SD drive. Unfortunately however, Windows cannot find these on its own so it needs a third-party software to locate the photos.

how to recover deleted pictures from sd card

Even if your photos are located in the lower levels of your SD drive, they can be overwritten at any time, because Windows is not protected anymore. So if you are trying to recover this data it is important to act quickly. Here’s what you should do:

  • Go the recovering-deleted-files.net.
  • Then click on the Free Download button for the software program called Data Recovery Pro.
  • After installing the software, open it and you will have a series of options to choose. Then press the Guided Scan button and if you are looking to recover deleted files from external sources such as an SD card continue by selecting the I want to recover items on an external device.
  • Afterwards you will be presented with a table containing the deleted data and by simply selecting it and pressing the Recovery button an automated folder will be made containing the deleted photos.

how to recover deleted pictures from sd card with data recovery pro

Keep in mind that this solution implies having to download a software program, yet it offers a safe and fast way to bring back lost data.

  1. How to Recover Deleted Photos from Memory Card with Recuva Professional

Another useful software for recovering deleted data files is Recuva Professional. These are the quick and simple steps to follow:

  • Simply go to Piriform.com/recuva and on the main page you will be presented with the option of downloading the program. After downloading the program make sure you install it.
  • Before opening the program you will be required to do a Quick Format on the SD card. I know it is really scary to Format the SD card, mainly because of the fear to lose all data. But by pressing Quick Format you only scrub the Table of Contents on the SD card, not erasing everything recorded on it.
  • Now you can go onto the next step by opening the Recuva program.
  • Then, in the Recuva Wizard, you will be asked what sort of files you are trying to recover. If you are looking to recover deleted photos select the Pictures button.
  • If you also have other files that need to be recovered then go ahead and select the Other option, although be wary that it takes a ridiculous amount of time to scan in this selected option.
  • After selecting Pictures you will be asked where you want your files to be recovered. Select the Specific Location option and continue by recovering the files in the Removable Disk or in other words the SD card reader.

how to recover deleted pictures from sd card with recuva

If you select the Deep Scan option you can find files which have been deleted for a long time. Keep in mind that SD cards do not know that you deleted files until new ones are rewritten on them. So you will get files that are most recent as well as old deleted files. If you select this option note that it is very time-consuming and it might take a couple of hours. However, you will be able to bring back very old deleted files, so the benefits might overshadow disadvantages.

After the scan is completed a window will appear. In it all the files that have been found on the lower layers of the SD card drive will come into sight. Because you can have a vast number of photos that have been brought up, both recent and very old, it might again be very time-consuming to select each one individually. Luckily, there is a ‘select all’ option and you can follow up by pressing the Recover button.

There you will have the option to choose where you would like your recovered files to be saved. Then the files will be copied from the card onto the folder in which you want these to be saved.

Depending on the number of files you have recovered and thus saved, this process might take a couple of minutes up to a few hours. So be prepared to clear your schedule and spend some time on it.

Hope this couple of tips on how to recover deleted pictures from SD card prove useful to you. Although it involves downloading and installing different programs the results pay off. Nevertheless, keep in mind that depending on the sheer number of photos that need to be recovered, the whole process might vary in time. In other words, expect to spend from a couple of minutes to a few hours, if the volume of deleted photos is that high. By using the Recuva program and its Deep Scan option, you can recover files lost a very long time ago. So, in this event you can rest assured that you will spend quite some time, if you wish to recover those old files.

In essence, these immortalized moments should better be recovered, as they bring us back joy while looking over them. If you are searching for more tips on how to organize your images and keep them safe, check out our post on best ways to import and store digital images on your computer, as well as on an external drive.

Thank you for reading our article on how to recover deleted photos from memory card and feel free to leave us a message in the comment section below if you have any tips or ideas to share on the topic. Cheers!

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3.

Aperture Settings and Techniques Part II

Now that you know what aperture is and how it works, let’s experiment with some aperture settings and basic photography techniques for popular niches. Whether you want to achieve a more intense, powerful portrait or a more in-focus flower photograph, we have prepared useful and simple guidelines for you to follow.

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Expressive Portraits

In order to get expressive portraits, photographers usually focus on the subject creating a shallow depth of field. If you want to concentrate the attention on your model, and achieve a more diffused background, here’s what you need to do:

  • Set a wide aperture (a lower f number like f/1.4 or f/2.8).
  • Get close to your subject.
  • Focus on the subject’s eyes.

Out-of-focus backgrounds are ideal for portrait photography as they can add different moods and effects to the photo, changing the atmosphere. Now that you know how to do it, get your hands on the camera and have some fun experimenting.

 portrait achieved by using a wide aperture

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Pet Photography

Photographing your pet is meant to be fun. Pet photography benefits from both shutter speed techniques if you want to capture your subject in motion, and from aperture techniques if you want to freeze a special expression.

You already know how to take a nice shot of your pet on a blurry background: set a lower f number (f/2) and don’t forget to focus on the eyes.

If you don’t have a pet and want to practice, find a place where you can find plenty of subjects like a park, a garden or a Zoo. Be careful what you get close to though!

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Flower Shots

Flower photography also benefits from out-of-focus backgrounds. Here are some useful tips:

  • Choose a flower you want to focus on.
  • Set your camera on a wider aperture (f/4 should be fine).
  • Ensure the background can add a nice effect to the image. Go for either a nice bright sky, or for a beautiful green garden.

Here is an example of what you can get.

aperture photography technique for flower images

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Beautiful Landscape Pictures

Small apertures (small f numbers) are preferred by photographers when it comes to landscape pictures. The reason why they choose smaller apertures like f/11 (higher f number) is the greater depth of field achieved. So both the foreground and background elements are in focus.

For a well-balanced composition and saturation, it is recommended to set your camera on a medium aperture. However, you are free to play with settings, and adjust all details along the process.

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Travel Photography

Who doesn’t love traveling? Whether travel photography is one of your hobbies or even your job, there are so many details and moments you want to capture. The aperture photography techniques you can make use of when focusing on details imply an out-of-focus background and shallow depth of field. So you will need to choose a wider aperture (up to f/4).

If you choose to capture a broader scene, but also blurry distracting elements in the background, a wide aperture will do the job. The only thing to take into account is the distance to your subject.

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Street Photography

Street photography, often overlapping with travel photography, can also benefit from wide apertures. Out-of-focus backgrounds can add a dramatic even artistic effect to your street photographs.

  • Choose a wider aperture to ensure a less depth of field.
  • Place your subject in the main focal point.

Aperture Settings and Photo Techniques for Abstract Photos

The most fun part, and also one of the most challenging, of experimenting with aperture photography techniques is that abstract touch you can add to your images.

  • Set your camera on a wider aperture (choose a low f number, but not the lowest like f/4).
  • Focus on a central element. This will result in a slightly out-of-focus, blurry background.

Here is what you can get:

Stair lights abstract photo

Medium apertures are ideal for shooting light trails. One of the major aspects to consider in this case is adjusting the shutter speed and ISO properly. Set a low ISO (ISO 200 should do the work), choose a shutter speed between 10 and 20 seconds along with a medium aperture of f/8.

Take a few shots and see how it goes. Experiment as much as you can and let us know how it went. We love it when our readers engage with our content and get inspired. So don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you have any thoughts and ideas you’d like to share with us and our community.

Image Sources: 1, 2, 3

Aperture Settings and Techniques Part I

One of the most important things in photography is having a strong knowledge of the basic techniques. That is why we have chosen to approach the use of aperture settings for various types of photographic results, from expressive portraits to beautiful landscape pictures. This post reflects the first part of our promise and focuses mainly on the meaning and importance of aperture techniques. The second part of this topic will show you how you can experiment with different aperture settings for different photography niches. Stay with us to learn more about choosing the aperture and using your digital camera to the fullest. First, let’s start with what aperture means in photography and how it can affect the quality of your pics.

What is Aperture in Photography?

Aperture refers to the opening of lenses which allows light pass through them and hit the camera sensor. The aperture settings are sequenced as f/stops and you will see them written as numbers like f/1.4, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6 and so on. The way we refer to aperture might be a bit confusing as a lower f/stop or f/number stands for a wider aperture. In other words, the lowest the f number is, the wider the exposure. For instance, if you set an aperture of f/1.4, the opening of lenses is bigger and more light is allowed to pass through them.

To put it simple, a lower f/ number means a wider aperture, while a higher f/ number stands for a smaller aperture.

useful aperture scale for aperture photography techniques

Once you get to experiment with different settings, everything will look less contradictory.  We recommend using your digital camera in Manual Mode. As we have already brought up in our articles on ISO settings and shutter speed photography techniques, these aspects greatly influence one another. For this reason, it is essential to adjust all three settings according to their value.

How Does Aperture Affect the Quality of Your Images?

Not only that aperture is strongly connected to the way shutter speed and ISO work, but is also affects a few particular aspects of your images’ sharpness. The first thing to mention here is the depth of field. The depth of field (DOF) practically refers to how sharp both the foreground and background elements are reflected in your photo. Here is how aperture photography techniques and depth of filed are linked:

  • A greater depth of field means a sharper background or a background in focus. This implies a smaller opening of the lenses, so a higher aperture number.

Note: bigger f numbers provide the photo with a bigger depth of filed which translates into a smaller aperture.

  • Conversely, a shallow depth of field implies a wider aperture (lower f number) and a blurrier background.

Note: small f numbers provide the image with a small depth of field which translates into a wider aperture.

To resume:

  • f/2.8 translates into a large aperture and a shallow DOF.
  • f/8 stands for a medium aperture and a medium DOF.
  • f/22 means a small aperture and a great DOF.

As regards the time of exposure (shutter speed), if your aperture is wider and more light passes through the lenses, a faster shutter speed is needed. For the other way around, when using a smaller aperture, the shutter speed needs to be slower.

There are other factors that influence the way you use the aperture like focus length, type of lenses and the distance between your camera and your subject.

photographic lenses aperture

Let’s assume you want to take a close-up photo of a flower, by focusing only on the subject. Instead of using your zoom lenses and set a higher aperture number, it is desirable to get closer to your model and choose a slightly lower f number. Otherwise you will have to deal with photo aberrations and unwanted effects like vignetting. Getting closer to your subject instead of using the zoom lenses will result in a better exposed picture.

How to Set the Aperture?

There is always an easier way to deal with things. As regards aperture settings and techniques there’s Aperture Priority Mode you can use. Before setting your camera on Aperture Priority, though, you should be able to recognize the effects of different apertures on your images. The good part is that once you have chosen the aperture value for the results you wish to achieve, this camera function will adjust the shutter speed automatically.

Setting the aperture depends on what area of the photograph you want to have in focus. There are no specific rules on how exactly to choose the aperture, so it is a matter of choices and creativity. If, for instance, you want your subject to be in focus and achieve a blurrier background at the same time, you should choose a wider aperture – set a low f/ number. This way you will be in control of the depth of field. Make sure you don’t limit it too much though. Play with settings before you take the final shot. An aperture between f/1.4 and f/2, for example will result in an image with an out-of-focus background, while an aperture of f/22 will have both the subject and the background in focus.

Quick Aperture Tips:

  • Experiment with aperture settings in Manual Mode and learn how to adjust the shutter speed according to the f number.
  • Shoot in RAW format to avoid a reduction of the image’s saturation.
  • Don’t use zoom lenses too much.

Image Sources: 1, 2

What Does ISO Mean in Photography?

Understanding what ISO is in photography and using your digital camera accordingly is essential for capturing great grain free images. What does ISO mean and what are the ideal ISO settings for different types of photography are the questions we decided to answer to in a more in depth manner.

What Does ISO Mean?


ISO is one of the three pillars of photography along with Aperture and Shutter Speed. We have already touched both on the ISO meaning and its importance when we discussed how to make the most from your camera exposure. However, there’s always more useful information to provide on the subject, especially for beginners.

To put it simple, ISO refers to how sensitive your digital camera or film is to light. So anytime we talk about ISO photography, we refer to the ideal amount of light we need for well-exposed images. Both in film and digital photography, ISO indicates the sensitivity to light and is measured in numbers – 100, 200, 400, 800 etc. These numbers are established by the International Organisation for Standardization. Here are the ISO standards used in photography:

ISO Standards used in Photography - ISO scale

Back in the film photography days, an ISO of 100 was best for shooting in natural light, while 400 ISO was commonly used for indoor photography.

In our digital age, though, ISO settings allow you to better control the quality of your photo. As compared to film, on digital cameras you can set a different ISO for each shot. So, in case you come across situations when you cannot use flash, you can rapidly switch your ISO up to 3200 and make the image sensor more sensitive to light. With film, the higher the ISO, the more grainy and noisy the pictures were.

How does ISO work? The lower the ISO is, the less sensitive your camera will be to light. A higher ISO number is thus necessary in low light conditions. This, unfortunately, increases the noise of your shots, which means that finest images are always achieved in natural light.

experimenting with iso settings

Experimenting with ISO Settings

Base ISO

All digital cameras have a so-called base ISO which is the lowest ISO you can use to capture high quality images. While most of Nikon cameras have a base ISO of 200, the typical base ISO for Canon is 100.  ISO 100 is the lowest recommended ISO for digital cameras, but the number can drop to 80, 64 and even 50 depending on light conditions and shooting purposes.

The ISO number can be increased from 100 or 200 to 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400 end even higher. The highest the ISO is, the less time is needed to capture an image. For instance, ISO 100 has a capture speed of 1 second, while ISO 1600 speed is sixteen times lower.

Auto ISO

Many digital cameras have a special setting called Auto ISO. How does Auto ISO work? Auto ISO is great for low-light shooting. All you need to do is set a maximum ISO number to limit the grain in your image, such as ISO 800, and the camera will automatically change it based on the amount of light available.

auto iso settings for Canon

Auto ISO for Canon Digital Cameras

ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed

Before experimenting with different ISO settings, it is important to learn more about Aperture and Shutter Speed which with ISO are part of the Exposure Triangle.

Light and noise are affected not only by the ISO number, but also by how fast the shutter speed and how large the aperture are set. A slower shutter speed means a longer time for the light to hit the image sensor. Also, the larger the aperture is, the more light will get through the lenses.

A low ISO goes hand in hand with a larger aperture. The less sensitive is the image sensor, the more light will need to get through the lenses. Also, when using a lower ISO, it is advisable to set slower shutter speed so that the light is delivered into the sensor over a longer period of time.

Consequently, if we set the ISO high, we need less light over a shorter period of time.

ISO Settings by Types of Photography

Next, we are going to answer to how to use ISO on your digital camera according to different types of photography.


Low ISO numbers, such as 100 or 200, are perfect for shooting in bright light. Natural light allows you to stick to a low ISO which will result in a higher quality and less grainier or even grain free images. A low ISO is ideal for all types of outdoor photography, be in landscape, nature, flower or travel photography as long as the sunlight is your friend.

Flower at ISO 100

Flower Captured at ISO 100

Low ISO can be used in dark settings as well, if you wish to add a dramatic effect to your photographs. However, if you want to lower the ISO number and there is little light to work with, you should also use a tripod or hold your camera steady by placing it on a flat, solid surface.


High ISO is mandatory in low light conditions. In order for your shot to be well-exposed, don’t forget to set a faster shutter speed as well after increasing the ISO number.

Usually, higher ISO settings are needed for indoor photography when shooting:

  • Indoor Sport Events
  • Art Gallery Shows
  • Parties and Weddings
  • Interior Design Photography
low light examples of ISO settings

Low Light Examples of ISO Settings for Indoor Photography

In certain circumstances, you can use a flash instead of increasing the ISO, but the images will probably get noisier and grainier.

We hope we provided you with useful answers to ‘what does ISO mean?’ and ‘how does ISO work for stunning results?’. If you have any other questions or comments, just drop us a line.

Image Sources: 1,2,3,4

Best Smartphone Cameras and Photography Tips for Smartphone Photography

Best Smartphone Cameras

Read on to find out the Best Smartphone Cameras for Smartphone Photography

If you are passionate about photography but do not have financial possibilities to invest in expensive, professional devices, don’t lose enthusiasm and go check your pocket. Not for money, though, but for your smartphone! You can still take amazing photos by using your smartphone camera in a more productive way.  Stay with me to discover which are the best smartphone cameras in 2015 and how you can upgrade your smartphone photography experience.

Top 3 Best Smartphone Cameras

First, let’s have a look at which are the three best smartphone cameras as generally reviewed by users and by myself.


1. Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge

According to DxOMark, first place for best cameras goes to Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge. The qualities that make this device the most versatile for smartphone photography include a fast autofocus, good exposure, and a nice white balance in all outdoor conditions. One slight mark against this smartphone revolves around the fine detail when shooting in bright light.

Natural light is essential for a good composition with a realistic color effect. However, in low light, the Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge is not the greatest for smartphone photography.


2. Panasonic Lumix DMC-CM1

Some of you may consider the iPhone 6 Plus as the second best smartphone for photography. I chose the Panasonic Lumix DMC – CM1 for the physical photographic experience that it offers. It’s photos really resemble higher end, traditional digital cameras. This smartphone seems to have been made especially for photography lovers. Its design really makes sense for photographic purposes. There’s a metal ring around the lens that allows you to manually adjust settings. There’s the 1-inch image sensor too, which enables beautiful, detailed photos.

iPhone 6 plus camera

3. iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 6 Plus is quite an expensive alternative to the first two options already mentioned. The primary reason why I chose it is because of the popularity surrounding its camera. One of its greatest features is its fast face-detection autofocus. Also, it makes quite a decent job under low light. What can I add? Image stabilization is another plus.

5 Photography Tips for Smartphone Photography

It is interesting to notice how technological developments influence our day-to-day photographic practices. I am not among those who believe smartphones revolutionize photography, but I must confess it is much more comfortable to use my smartphone for quick snaps than my DSLR camera. Why not profit, then, from all it has to offer?

Do You Think Smartphones Will Replace Small Digital Cameras?

The advantage of using a smartphone camera in comparison with, let’s pejoratively say, old-fashioned cameras is that you can almost instantly share your image captures. For a more skillful experience and impressive smartphone photography, you should follow the next easy five tips.

1. Explore your Smartphone Camera

First, you need to know your camera. Experiment with options, check settings and effects, see how resolution and brightness can vary and play with the focus shooting modes. Smartphone cameras allow you to take pictures in macro mode.

Most important settings usually refer to light and balance. For quality photos you can adjust ISO and set the white balance.

Just like in the case of professional photography, light is crucial for the sharpness of your snaps, so try to take pictures in bright light.

selfie stick smartphone photography

2. Use a Tripod, Monopod/ Selfie stick or Grip Accessory

If you want to make smartphone photography sharper, use a tripod. To find out more about how using a tripod influences your photographic practice, read our article on what to consider when choosing this kind of tool.

For smartphone photographic use, I would recommend using a monopod or a grip accessory. The latter are especially designed to fit any device and provide stabilization. They can also be attached to tripods, or you can set your phone on a table or any other solid surface if you wish to take a break, and play around while enjoying a meal or a drink.

3. Panoramas

You wouldn’t believe that your smartphone camera can capture amazing panoramic pictures, but yes, your smartphone is panorama-capable! My third tip goes hand in hand with the second one. To take the best panoramic snaps you need to avoid movement as much as possible.

If you do not have a tripod or a grip accessory don’t panic. Use walls or any solid objects around where you can keep your camera in position.

Another magic trick for taking panoramas with your smartphone is pay close attention to horizontal straight lines in your photos. Make sure your shots are aligned perfectly.

4. To Flash or Not to Flash?

Try not to use flash. If possible, take shots in daylight, but if there is not enough natural light, it is better to adjust the ISO level than to rely on your flash.

Night photography apps are a great choice for low light photos. One of the best for iPhone users is NightCap Pro, while for Android you can try out Camera FV-5 Lite or Night Camera.

 Get ready to take some memorable sky shots!


5. Edit Your Smartphone Photography

What could possibly be the final step to amazing photographic results? Editing, of course. To edit photos taken on your smartphone, you can either download editing apps, or work as with digital photography, on your PC. But why use a computer software, when your smartphone can handle this for you?

Editor apps and programs have similar functions. Most common are crop, rotate, removing red eye, and of course all the filters and effects people like to use. Android users crazy about innovative effects can try out Bonefire Photo Editor, while for iSO there’s Adobe Photoshop Touch which brings more creative possibilities to your iPhone.

For panoramic pictures, you can also try out a few apps. For iOS I would recommend Cycloramic, and for Android Photaf Panorama would be a great choice.

Did you like this article? Do you have any preferences when it comes to smartphone cameras and apps? Feel free to leave a comment. You can adventure into testing the video capacity of your smartphone too and let us know how it goes. Until next time, take smartsnaps and have a great photography time!

Image sources1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7

Top 6 Considerations when Buying a Tripod

No matter if you are a professional photographer or a beginner, buying a tripod can give you headaches. Whether you want a portable tripod for travel photography, or a sturdier one for studio applications, making the right choice is time-consuming. That is why I will summarize the six most important aspects to keep in mind when buying one, from how much you should spend to what materials you should choose.

Why Should You Use a Tripod in the First Place?

Beginners might wonder why a tripod is essential in obtaining quality shots. One of the greatest advantages of using it is reduced blurriness. Tripods help you control the composition of your shots, being ideal for night photography or long exposures when shooting a subject in movement. A great panoramic can also benefit from owning one, as it helps keeping the pieces perfectly aligned.

how to buy a tripod, three legged tripod

Three legged tripod

Using a tripod is all about quality, while buying one is all about making it fit your needs and shooting style. So, let’s check what to consider before making the right decision.

1. Budget – How Much Should You Spend on a Tripod?

How much you can afford investing in such a tool for your hobby is one of the most important things to think about before getting your hands on a tripod. Spending more than $400 might be a good deal if you are a pro, but there are less expensive choices that can meet your needs if you are an amateur intending to use your camera for personal purposes.

In most cases, the price is directly proportional with how strong and sturdy the tripod is. So, a first time buyer could spent between $100 and $300 for a decent tripod, but a professional willing to upgrade his tool might get rid of large sums of money, some exceeding $500.

Note: You can also look after discounts, or, if not urgent, wait around holidays or Black Fridays.

2. Usage – Where Will You Use Your Tripod and for What?

Basically, there are four main categories of tripods and tripod applications: pocket tripods, travel tripods, medium duty tripods, and studio tripods.

  • First, pocket tripodsare best for group shotsand self-portraits. These are cheaper, lighter and ideal for amateurs.
  • Second, travel tripods are preferred by landscape photographers, or simply, by users who love nature, sports, and travelling. As a representative feature, these are light weighted, but steadier than the portable ones, which would accommodate both the needs of a hiker and his backpack.
  • Third, medium duty tripods are best for events photography, such as weddings and parties as they are a good choice for video cameras. These are classified between portable and studio tripods.
  • Fourth, sturdy duty tripods are used in studios. These are big, heavy and difficult to move, used mostly by professionals.

3. How Quick will the Legs Release?

Tripods come in a variety of styles and their components define how complex they are. Setting it up might be tricky, but here are a few tips. The majority of photographic tripods have telescopic legs, which come in 3 to 5 sections.The highest the tripod is, the less stable it will be, but more important than the height, is how fast it can be set and how stable your camera will get.

The leg sections are extended or contracted by a locking mechanism. Some photographers say it is desirable to look for quick release leg locks than rubber twist leg locks, as they are faster. In practice this is not always the case, so make sure you try out both types before deciding on a tripod.

4. How Fast does The Head Adjust?

Now that your tripod is steady, you need to position your camera as quick and easy as possible because wasting too much time, or even worse, missing the chance to capture amazing shots will drive you mad. Finding the right position depends on the head of this tool.

There are two common types of tripod heads: pan-tilt and ball heads. The first type is considered to be more useful as it allows you to control your camera both left-right and up-down, while the ball head locks your camera into position. But keep in mind that some heads are made for video applications, while others are ideal for still shots.

Tripod heads

Tripod heads: ball head, one-way tilt and three-way tilt head


5. How Heavy Should Your Tripod Be?

Depending on the applications your tripod is used for, weight is as much an essential aspect to consider as it is its legs release or head adjustment. Finding the perfect balance between stability and weight is not easy.

The most versatile tripods are lightweight ones as you can take them with you practically anywhere, but make sure you do not sacrifice much sturdiness. The heavier a tripod is the more chances you have to get sharp shots. The weight it can support is also essential. Check if the tripod can bear not only your camera, but also heavier lens or a flash.

6. What Material Should You Choose?

Whether it is aluminum, carbon fiber or wood, the material of your tripod relates not only to its price, but also to its usage. For example, carbon fiber tripods are preferred when traveling, as they are lighter, but more expensive than aluminum tripods, which are heavier.

The best tripod material and most comfortable to handle especially in the winter is wood, but it is much more impractical than the other two options. If you find yourself masterful, you can create your own wood tripod.

how to make a wood tripod

Wood Tripod

Last, but not least, you can check the websites of tripod brands for more information, but better than reading reviews or technical specifications is to get your hands on as many tripods you can before buying the one that suits you best. So, head to the next specialty shop and knock yourself out.

Image Sources: a, b, c

Quick Guide to Using Image Sharpening Software

Sharpening images can be a great tool for drawing viewer focus and emphasizing texture. It’s also something that pretty much all photographs will need to do at one point in their lives.

The sensors and lenses of digital cameras always, more or less, blur an image and this requires correction. Image sharpening can be done with various tools, but no matter what tools you choose, you need to keep in mind that image sharpening needs to be done in moderations, otherwise sharpening artifacts will appear. When done properly, though, image sharpening can take an average picture and turn it into a spectacular one. Find out more in this brief guide to image sharpening.

The vast majority of image sharpening software tools do their magic by applying an unsharp mask, which actually sharpens an image. The gist of it all is that the tool works by exaggerating the brightness differences along the edges that exist within an image. Most of the sharpening setting in various image sharpening software are quite standardized. So, a person can usually adjust at least three main settings: radius, amount and threshold or masking.guide to image sharpening

Radius controls the size of the edges one wishes to enhance. Use a radius setting that is comparable to the size of the tiniest detail within your image.

Amount controls the overall strength of the sharpening effect and it is listed as a percentage in most cases. 100% if often a good starting point.

Threshold is the setting that controls the minimum brightness change that will be sharpened. It’s the number one setting that one needs to use in order to avoid sharpening noise.

As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended that one first optimizes the radius setting, then the amount and only then the threshold. As is generally the case, you may need to play around with the settings until you get the results you want.

Useful Image Sharpening Software Advice

Here are some bits of advice for image sharpening software:

  • If there is one thing we recommend you remember before you start your journey into image sharpening is the fact that sharpening cannot be reversed and that you should always save the originals whenever you have the chance to do so.
  • In case you didn’t know, RAW and TIFF files respond much better to image sharpening than regular JPEG files, because they preserve much more detail than the JPEG ones. Also, sharpening a JPEG file image, could amplify the compression artifacts of the JPEG.
  • If you have an image that you want to sharpen and the blurriness of that image is due to subject motion or camera shake, then you will need to get into much more advanced techniques than the regular radius, amount or threshold. For example, you can use Photoshop’s smart sharpen.
  • Did you know that some camera lenses do not blur people or objects equally? Just like the human eye, some camera lenses can suffer from astigmatism. This type of camera blur increases further from the center of the image and can go in a direction which is either perpendicular to that direction or away from the image’s center. If you’ve got an image like that on your hands, you’re in for some hard work, because these types of images require creative sharpening.
  • A neat trick you can try to make images appear sharper is to, during RAW development, remove the chromatic aberrations. You can find this option in Adobe Camera RAW, under lens correction. You should know that almost all photo editing software these days will offer a similar feature. Use it!
  • You should know that over sharpened images can be recovered (partially) in Photoshop by duplicating the layer, followed by an application of a Gaussian blur of 0.2-0.5 pixels to this layer 3-5 times and then setting the blending more of the top layer to darken and decreasing the opacity of the layer to reduce the effect.
  • The light sharpening halos are more unpleasant than the dark halos.
  • Learn when to stop. It can be very easy to let yourself get caught in the whirlpool that is sharpening images, but from time to time, just take a little break and move away from your laptop. This is the only way to get a new pair or fresh eyes that will help you in deciding when enough is enough.

Do you know of any image sharpening tips that you would like to share with us? Make sure you tell us in the comment section below or on our Facebook account!

Image Source: 1

10 Photography Tips for Mirorrless Cameras

More and more people are choosing mirrorless cameras over digital single reflex lens cameras (DSLRs). Some do it because they are transitioning from a compact camera, others because they are too intimidated by the size and feature set of a DSLR.

Understanding your Mirrorless

y1First, in order to work your camera, you need to understand it. Mirrorless are in the Digital Compact Cameras category, which means they have tiny sensors and exchanging lenses is impossible. Being compact is one of the best attributes you can find in a MILC (mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera).

So, a MILC is like a digital SLR, only without the mirrors and all the extra features. It is also much, much smaller and lighter than a digital SLR, which means it is more versatile and chances are that you will be using it more on a daily basis, because it can easily fit in your bag. A MILC menu of controls and operation is very similar to a compact camera. But the best thing about mirrorless is that it has large sensors that help improve the image quality, giving you more accurate results.

Some people use a MILC as their only camera, other use it as an extension, while some photographers have a MILC that they take out on a daily basis, taking quick, beautiful snapshots. Either way, here are some tricks for you to make the best use of your mirrorless camera.

Mirorrless Camera Photography Tips

#1 The first tip is to invest in extra lenses. If you’ve purchased a camera with interchangeable lenses, take advantage of them. Most cameras come with the 18-35 mm zoom lens which is okay – until it isn’t. These lenses are versatile and functional, but they get in the way of achieving amazing results. For starters, you should use a wide-angle prime lens, which will help you take the most advantage of your tiny camera body. Look into the 35 mm or 50 mm prime with a maximum aperture of f/2.0 or faster. The point is, the lower the number, the better for you.


#2 In a mirrorless camera, the light gets through the lens, without a mirror, right onto the image sensor. This means that the more light that comes through the lens, the higher the sensor and the better the picture.

#3 High-end MILC use contrast detection to adjust their autofocus, while others only have contrast-detection AF. When looking to buy a MILC, the best advice is to go for one that has focusing settings similar to DSLRs. Nobody wants their pictures to be out-of-focus.


#4 Ideally, all MILCs have full Manual mode, Aperture and Shutter Speed. If you are a novice, you can try Program mode. The exposure will be correct, and this mode will also let you play around with Iso light sensitivity which is great for low light conditions.

#5 Canon mirrorless cameras have modes that some DSLRs don’t. Some of the features give you control over the level of background blur or adjusting the depth of fields and color richness.


#6 For moving photos, you should place your camera on a tripod and put it on Shutter Priority mode. Set the shutter speed to 1/250 seconds. This way, you will capture most of the movement. If what you’re capturing is a really fast movement, adjust the shutter speed to 1/1250. This should be enough to freeze the moment.


#7 When taking portraits with your MILC keep in mind that you have full control over the depth of field, so use the Aperture Priority mode as much as you can. 35mm prime (no zooming) lens or even a 50mm on a full frame camera will allow you to get the best results in photographing people. The aperture should be at around f/8, and if the distance between you and the subject is less than 6 meters, go for an aperture of f/5.6 or larger.


#8 Almost the same tricks apply when taking a landscape photograph, only now you aperture should be of f/9 or higher to keep things in the distance in focus. If you look to have everything in the picture as sharp as possible, set your aperture to 20 or even higher, and consider using wide-angle lens.


#9 Shooting in low light is tricky with any sort of camera, but once you get the hang of it, you will take amazing pictures. For example, using a tripod is advisable, but if you don’t have one, you needn’t worry. Turn your camera to Shutter Priority and set the shutter speed to 1/60 a second. If you don’t own a tripod, you could use something else, such as a table, or a pile of books on a chair on which to rest the camera.

#10 Even when shooting with a MILC, you should never neglect the ISO function. This allows you to get more detail in dark rooms or during the night. Of course, you could set it on Auto Mode and let the camera choose the right ISO, but you would get better results if you did it yourself.

After all, you know best. The general rule is that the higher the ISO, the more grained the image will be. Usually, during daytime, a low ISO of 100 or 200 is advisable. In low light conditions, use an ISO of 3200, especially with a mirror lens. Some MILCs offer features that help you with the noise reduction. Read the manual first and then experiment.


The obvious advantage of having a mirrorless camera is that your back will never suffer again from carrying your heavy DSLR. The results are similar to professional digital SLRs which is a big plus for a mirrorless. Plus, a MILC is better for a casual photographer who wants to take pictures all day.

A serious shooter is always going to go for a DSLR, especially in a studio or out in the wild. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which one you have, because there is absolutely no difference in image quality.

They both take excellent photos, but of course, they need you to make that happen.

DSLR Guide for Beginners: The Best Entry Level DSLR Tips

So, you’ve purchased your first DSLR camera, have you? You most likely read the manual, watched tutorials, asked your fellow photographer friends for tips. And still, you are reluctant to experiment with your new purchase. Do you find it easier to just use the Auto function? You don’t even take the camera out with you because you find it too difficult and somewhat embarrassing to fiddle around with various settings? This guide on the best entry level DSLR tips for photographers just starting out. [Read more…]