The Huawei Nexus 6P is the best Nexus device to date, and one of the key reasons we like it so much is the brilliant camera.
When it comes to taking pictures, the device is hard to fault. Whether it's the 12.3-megapixel Sony MX377 camera sensor on the back that has large pixels (1.55-microns) allowing it to make the most of the light entering the lens, or the front-facing 8-megapixel offering for selfies and video calls.
We joined Foto Ruta, a creative photography tour company for a day in London to learn some secret tricks of the trade, and some great tips for shooting with the Nexus 6P. Here is what we found out.
Nexus 6P camera tips
1. Always use the HDR+ mode when shooting with the rear camera in order to get the best quality images. If you have dynamic subjects, however, it's better to shoot in auto mode as HDR+ mode has a slight delay that might result in blur.
2. Use the tap-to-focus and set exposure features in the Google camera app. You'll want to do this for most shots, especially in darker scenes, or scenes with less than perfect lighting.
3. Use the manual exposure setting for more control over your camera. To enable it, press the menu bar by swiping inwards from the right edge, then press the cog icon. Under "Advanced" you'll find "Manual exposure" — enable it and you'll get an exposure (+/-) control next to the other shooting options when you press the menu button. The manual exposure setting is hidden by default but more advanced shooters will want to take advantage.
4. Double tap on the Nexus 6P power button to quickly launch the Google camera app.
5. Shoot panoramas and photospheres even when the camera is in portrait orientation. To capture a taller view in panoramic images, hold your Nexus 6 in portrait (vertical) orientation as you pan across. Because of the orientation of the sensor, you'll capture a more complete view of the scene when doing this. The same goes for shooting photospheres.
5. Think before you use flash. As with most smartphone cameras, you'll want to use the Nexus 6's flash sparingly. If your subject is too close, it will appear washed out. Too far away and the two flash LEDs won't be much use. The ideal distance is to shoot between 10 and 25 feet from your subject. If you want an alternative to using flash, rely on HDR+ mode with exposure set through tap-to-focus.
6. Nexus 6P offers an exclusive burst mode, which lets Android take eight still photos in rapid succession and then choose the one it thinks is best. You can seamlessly open them up in the integrated Google Photos app, which promptly makes an animation (such as a GIF) out of your bursts. Now where's that cat?
7. Don't forget 4K video mode. Load the camera app, swipe right to get to video and then press the menu icon in the top left hand corner of the screen. When in Settings, go to "Resolution & Quality" and make sure video is UHD 4K. It is set to 1080p as default.
8. Create a "Lens blur" style photo by starting the camera app, pressing the menu icon in the top left hand corner of the screen and then selecting Lens Blur. Lens Blur makes the subject of your photo stand out by blurring the background and it works really well with close-ups of people, food or nature. It takes some practice and isn't ideal for fast moving subjects, but the results look great when you get it right.
Great smartphone camera tips and tricks
Whether you've got a Nexus 6P or not, here are some great smartphone photography tips:
1. When available, use the tap-to-focus and set exposure modes. This will ensure your shots are crisp where you want them to be and it allows you to be playful with using light, especially in low-light situations.
2. Avoid zoom. While smartphone camera technology is advancing rapidly, we still don't trust the zoom function to provide a quality image. You'll get much better results if you simply get as close as you can to what you'd like to photograph.
3. Try shooting from creative angles. The advantage of smartphones is that they are light and small compared to professional cameras. Use this mobility to create interesting angles to shoot from and capture the ordinary in an extraordinary way.
4. Go minimal. Smartphones are great for capturing everything and anything but some of the best smartphone images we've seen carefully consider composition. A big trend in photography right now is minimalism and it's a great way to capture a simple subject in your surroundings in an interesting way.
5. Think about what mood you want to create and find an app to do it. The magic of smartphone photos is often in the editing. Whether it be nostalgia, mystery, or a psychedelic feel, choose a filter or edit your images in a way that exaggerates the mood you've captured.
6. Minimise your use of flash. Smartphone cameras are getting better and better in low-light situations. When possible, use whatever available light you have and set your camera to high/best quality. Flash often results in overexposed images or is completely useless when used too far away from the subject. If you've got a friend with you, get them to use their flash as a torch to light your subject in a more interesting way. The results are really good.