(Pocket-lint) - When it comes to smartphones, all the talk is about cameras. No manufacturer is immune from talking-up the prowess of its phone camera, from Apple to ZTE, it's the part of a phone launch that garners the most attention.
Some great things have been achieved too, from lifting elements found in real, proper, cameras and combining in the modern world with processing and artificial intelligence, we're striding into the future with the best compact and portable cameras we've seen - always connected, instantly sharing, optimising themselves in the background.
But you still need to be a good photographer to get good photos, no matter what hardware you're using.
We sat down with Isaac Reynolds, product manager for the camera on the Google Pixel and part of the team responsible for the excellent Pixel cameras, to get some top photography tips from the guy behind one of the greatest smartphone cameras out there.
1. Shoot a lot
This is Reynolds' top tip: shoot a lot of photos. Don't just take one picture and hope it’s going to be perfect. Always have your phone with you (which pretty much everyone does) and have it ready to take photos.
Don't just take lots of pictures of the same thing, move between each shot and get a slightly different angle with each photo, so something is always changing. Reynolds told us that he took 1400 photos in the Grand Canyon and only really liked seven of them.
2. Watch out for the mid-day sun
More sun means more light which means better photos, right? Wrong. Direct harsh light throws heavy shadows especially on people, leading to shadows, squinting and uncomfortable faces. Move into shade and the light is much more even, much more flattering and people can keep their eyes open!
3. Tap the viewfinder to meter and focus
This is a simple thing that often gets overlooked on phones. Once you have your phone lined up, autofocus will try to do its thing, but tap on what you want to take a picture of. This will let the phone focus precisely, as well as meter (measure the light in the scene to determine the exposure) and give you a better shot. With traditional cameras, you'd focus on a gentle button press - just try to recreate that step with your phone with a tap. (On some phones you might have to check the settings to make sure this option is turned on.)
4. Always get closer and fill the frame
One of the basic rules of photo composition, Reynolds recommends getting closer - take a picture of that person's face, take a closer photo of that object, so the background isn't a distraction, drawing your eye away. Place your subject in the frame so you get the picture you want - often that will mean getting closer.
5. Use your camera's features
Reynolds recommends taking advantage of some of the great powers that your phone now offers. Don't ignore the flash, especially on the Google Pixel 2 where it has been optimised to work with HDR. Don't turn off motion photo by default, think about how motion might enhance your picture. Give it a go and play, and keep taking lots of photos.
Of course, the Google Pixel also offers unlimited storage in Google Photos, so you can afford to shoot all the time!