Nothing is more disappointing than uploading your smartphone pictures and seeing them are not as sharp as you like them to be. Unfortunately, it has happened to a lot of macro photographers. In reality, shooting macro with a mobile device is not that hard. You only need some tips to make the pictures extraordinary.
To make very sharp macro pictures with your smartphone, you can follow these steps:
- Use a Macro lens
- Put your phone on a tripod
- Clean the camera lens
- Use a remote shutter
- Use a manual camera app
- Consider the weather conditions and time of day
- Use focus stacking
- If necessary, sharpen the photo with software
Well, that doesn’t seem so complicated. In the upcoming paragraphs, I will explain all eight tips to make it even more straightforward. After that, your macro photos will undoubtedly change for the better.
The gear I used for writing this blog can be found on my favorite gear page.
Making your macro photos sharp and interesting
Although some smartphones come with a built-in macro mode, we advise an (inexpensive) lens or set of glasses that work correctly with your phone. Another minor investment that will pay off immediately is a tripod. In the eponymous blogpost, you can read more about how to put your smartphone on a tripod. Other than that, it is just a matter of choosing the right time and keeping your gear clean. Easy-peasy!
1. Use a Macro lens
So your mobile does not have a macro mode, or you are unhappy with its performance. Then, it is time to talk about macro lenses. They come in many different sizes and prices and have different abilities. But most of all, they ensure you can take intricate details of bugs, plants, and small animals.
A macro lens is designed for short-range photography. You strive to get as much detail from your object in one very sharp photograph. They can focus on a much smaller distance. Macro lenses can help you with achieving this exciting way of photographing.
But how does a macro lens for your smartphone work? A macro lens is nothing more than a mini magnifier. It works best when you don’t zoom. Moving the camera phone with the macro lens to or from the object will find the sharpest result. How up close and personal you need to be, depends on the manufacturer of the macro lens. Please read their instructions carefully.
Tips for buying a macro lens
When buying a macro lens for your Android phone, consider these things: Magnification, sharpness & contrast, and overall glass quality. Pay attention to budget macro lenses with high magnification numbers. You can get closer to the object, but the result won’t be as sharp as you would like. However, the budget variations are good enough for first-time buyers who want to try macro photography with their mobile phones.
Which lenses work with Android and iPhones
Moment Macro Lens
Xenvo Pro Lens Kit
Check out the latest price here.
Easy-Macro Lens Band
No longer available on Amazon.
2. Put your phone on a tripod
You will need a tripod. Having a tiny focus plane and hand holding your smartphone can be tricky. It even worsens when you tap the camera to focus or take a picture. Before you take the definite shot, you can use your smartphone handheld. It is easier to find the right setting without moving your tripod.
There are many different tripods on the market. You are good to go if you already have one that fits your smartphone. But if you need to buy a new one and are unsure how to attach your phone to a tripod, read our blog post:
“Can I put my Smartphone on a Tripod?”
3. Clean the camera lens
You can do everything right, from using a tripod to buying a good quality lens, but the photos won’t be sharp and clear when your glass is not clean. Please be careful when cleaning the lens. You don’t want to scratch the surface.
The best way to clean your camera is by using a microfiber cloth (or special lens cleaning cloths) or a cotton swab moistened with distilled water. Fold the microfiber cloth into a triangle so you can easily reach the border of the lens. Some like to use a lens pen with two different brushes.
➽ You can find my favorite cleaning cloths on Amazon. I have been using these for many years!
How to get rid of scratches
You use your phone a lot. All day, every day. The chance of getting scratches on the lens looks inevitable. You might be able to get rid of light scratching with this trick. Put a minimal amount of toothpaste (no water!) on the lens of your mobile phone. Use a clean cotton swab to rub it gently (circular motion). Remove the toothpaste with a clean and dry microfiber cloth. Et voila! Your lens should be in better condition. Unfortunately, it does not work with deep scratching.
4. Use a remote shutter
A remote camera shutter, also called a camera remote or remote clicker, is a very tiny but handy accessory for macro photography with your phone. It connects your phone with the remote shutter via Bluetooth. It will activate the camera shutter for you without moving the phone. Not touching the device enhances the sharpness of the pictures a great deal.
The vibrations caused by tapping the phone cause slight changes in focus. When you are very close to the object, this will have significant effects on the results. The investment is a few dollars tops. And most smartphone tripods come with a remote clicker. So no financial heartaches!
5. Use a manual camera app for better focus
There are many free and paid manual camera apps on the market. They will give you control over your camera settings. It will turn your smartphone into a mini DSLR. You can manually focus, shutter speed, exposure, and ISO. You can experiment with a free version and later upgrade to a paid application.
- Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor
- VSCO: Photo & Video Editor
- Open Camera (FREE)
- Camera FV-5 Lite
- Manual Camera Lite: Professional Camera DSLR
- ProCam X – Lite
Some new smartphones (even in budget and midrange categories) will have built-in manual settings. Our phones have a professional mode. That enables us to manually set ISO, shutter speed, exposure, and much more. Usually, stock apps are better than 3rd party applications. Obviously, they know their own camera best.
6. Consider the weather conditions and time of day
You would think midday sunshine and blue skies are the best weather conditions for taking macro photos. Well, it might be helpful for the photographer; but it might not give you the best results. Why not?
Bright daylight might give you trouble with unwanted shadowing. The light may be too harsh to get lovely coloring, and animals might be overactive. Of course, you can block the sunlight with your body or use a light diffuser on your macro lens. But you can also choose to take photos two hours after sunrise or before sunset for a subtle golden glow.
And even rainy conditions might be the way to go. It gives you great opportunities to shoot raindrops on flowers, leaves, bugs, and butterflies. The insects won’t be as fast as they are in sunny conditions.
7. Use focus stacking for extra sharpness
Take several images with the smartphone camera set to manual focus and take images with focus set on different parts of the scene. Combine these images into one with Adobe Photoshop and create super-sharp macro photos.
➽ You can read all about focus stacking with your phone in this blog.
8. Sharpen the photo with software
And even after you’ve implemented these six tips, your photos might still be a bit unsharp. Although you cannot fix a very unsharp picture, you definitely can enhance the outcome with the software on your computer or phone. Lightroom, Photoshop, Luminar, Photoscape, Photomagic, and Polarr are a few possibilities. You can also dive into the app store and find an application for your device. PIXLR, Adobe Photo Express, Snapseed (iOs), and Afterlight (Android) are worth trying out.
Remember, don’t over-edit your photos. Make them as beautiful as possible in the field or your home with our six tips. And last but not least. Practice makes perfect!
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