How to Shoot on Manual Mode on a Mobile Phone

manual mode on a mobile phone

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May 30, 2018

Expand your mobile photography  by using manual mode on a mobile phone.  Using manual mode is a great way to enhance your photography and learn the basic elements of photography. Manual mode is great for shooting in low light situations. For Samsung and many Android phones this feature is built in as the pro feature. On iPhone you need to download a third party app. Some of my favorites editing apps include ProCam, RAW+, VSCO, Camera+ and Halide. By learning how to use manual mode on your phone you can do many of the features a SLR camera can do.

ISO in Manual Mode on a Mobile Phone

ISO is your camera’s sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO the less sensitive it is to light. The higher ISO the greater sensitivity to light. On your cell phone  the lowest ISO is usually 100 which is called your base ISO. The highest ISO is 800.  By using ISO you can improve your photography in low light situations.  Instead of using a flash you can increase your ISO by setting the ISO to a higher number which lets more light into the image.

How does ISO effect Exposure?

ISO is one of the factors in determining the correct exposure of a photo. By changing the image’s sensitivity to light ISO determines how well exposed a photo will turn out.  A low ISO number will give you less ability to access light and a high ISO will give you greater light.  Here you can see the effect of the ISO on the image.

How does ISO affect the image quality on your phone?

The higher the ISO the higher the sensitivity which means the more noise or grain will be introduced in the image. This means that unless you are shooting in low light you don’t want the ISO very high.  The lower the number means that you will have a greater quality of photos.

Shutter speed

Using shutter speed with manual mode on a mobile phone can help you capture quick moments a lot easier. This is the speed in which the shutter opens and close. Often it is used for action shots.  This is the time that the image is allowed to let light in. For example if you walk outside from a dark room you automatically close your eye because it is too bright. Shutter speed does the same thing. Shutter speed is measured in fractions of a second. Fast freezes motion at  1/250 of a second. Slow motion  blur can have a shutter speed of 1/4000 and the sensor lets in more light.

manual mode Shutter Speed

Using ProCam I took this picture in a cave. To take a good picture you need a high ISO and short shutter speed.

manual mode ISO

Look at the difference in light when just the shutter speed is adjusted

White Balance

Have you ever taken a shot and the background comes out more orange, or blue than it looks in real life? The camera sensor detects different sources of light as a different color or temperature. If you look at your light bulb you can choose a tungsten light or a blue light. Have you ever seen a room with two different color temperature lights? It can look rather odd. Florescent lights add a bluish tone to the photo whereas tungsten (normal light bulb) or incandescent lights add a yellow hue to the photo.  To adjust the white balance with manual mode on a mobile phone look for the icon that shows different white balance settings. It also can be abbreviated as AWB. If you slide it right and left you can see the Kelvin change from 2000K which is very blue and 10000K which is very yellow. Adjusting white balance with manual mode on a mobile phone can make it so your images look like they do in real life.

Exposure Compensation

Use exposure compensation with manual mode on a mobile phone to get the correct like and dark balance. When you go to take a picture your camera has a light sensor. This sensor depicts the cell phone camera’s exposure settings. Digital camera’s meters work by evaluating the light reflected off subjects on the standard color of gray. Often if the mobile phone camera is set on something dark the exposure will be brightened. In manual mode on a mobile phone you can adjust the exposure compensation and lighten or darken much like you can in a normal SLR. Exposure Compensation is a feature on Samsung phones and some Android phones. It may be available via a manual mode app on the iPhone.

Getting familiar with these features on manual mode on a mobile phone can help you take more professional looking images it may take some time to understand the concepts to become proficient at manual mode on your phone. When taking pictures with manual mode a tripod will help you take stable shots and will increase your quality.


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