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The Best Camera Is The One That's With You"

Most professional photographers know this maxim from ace photographer Chase Jarvis to be true, despite the several thousand dollar camera that's hanging off their shoulders. What good is a fancy digital SLR that's just too bulky to be around when you need it? More often than not, the camera most folks have most at hand isn't a point-and-shoot or a dSLR, but a smartphone, and with the likes of the Nokia N8 and the iPhone 4S, that's a pretty good camera to have at hand, if you ask me! Here are some tips that can help you make the most of the images you shoot from your smartphone camera.

Light Is Right: The biggest downside of shooting with a smartphone is the teeny image sensor it packs in, and while some handle low light better, any smartphone could do with more light streaming in. When outdoors, shoot with the sun behind you as far as possible, and while indoors, keep the lights on and you're back to the windows (if open).

Know Your (phone) Camera: Each smartphone behaves and responds differently when you click the shutter, and you should know your phone's shutter lag and account for it. Hold the camera steady until the picture has been captured, and if there's a dedicated camera button on your phone, use it – jabbing at the touchscreen will only shake your phone and blur your photo.

Start Me Up: If your phone doesn't have a dedicated camera button that lets you start up your camera really quick, you're going to end up missing a whole number of Kodak moments. At the very least, ensure that the camera icon is right on your phone home screen so you're not digging around in app folders looking for the camera icon.

Clean Your Lens: Phones spend their lives in grubby pockets, so give your lens a wipe before you start shooting. Obvious but rather easily forgotten advice.

Ready, Steady…: Camera phones are especially prone to shake and blur. Try and keep a good, steady grip on your phone while shooting, or use a nearby wall or table as a makeshift brace. If you shoot often, you may want to consider a dedicated cell phone tripod such as the Gorilla mobile from Joby. Also check if your camera app comes with a stable shot setting – which uses your phone's accelerometer to measure how much you're shaking the camera, and won't snap the picture until your hand has been steady for a certain amount of time. Very handy!

Follow The Rules: It may be a small camera, but common photography rules apply here as well. For example, the rule of thirds — dividing the frame into a 3x3 grid and placing the subject along one of the lines, rather than dead center — applies to shooting with cell phones too. See the difference it can make.

Keep It Uncluttered: Your cell phone camera is easily overwhelmed with unnecessary detail that crops into a picture, a complicated background for example. Try to keep the background uncluttered so that the focus can remain on your subject. And since the phone is so compact, you can exploit its size by trying interesting angles that you couldn't possibly try with a dSLR. Give it a shot!

Flash Is Your Friend: Most folks think of using the flash only in the evening, and it goes against conventional wisdom to use the flash in broad daylight. Not entirely. If your phone has a fill-flash function, you can use it in bright daylight to provide even lighting on your subjects, useful in cases when there is very harsh sunlight falling directly on your subject.

Say No To Digital Zoom: I can't stress this enough. If you care about the details in your photos, don't use digital zoom. Instead, walk closer to the subject or use an image editor on your PC to zoom in later. Zoom with your feet, as they say.

Find Your (soul)App: There are literally scores of apps you can install on most platforms that can enhance the final results of your photos, but you will have to experiment a bit (or a lot!) to find the app (or three) best suited for your taste. Apps like Photoshop, FxCamera and Instagram are great to start of with, though.

Dig Into Settings: Most new phones allow you to tweak settings like white balance, ISO (sensitivity to light) or High Dynamic Range — try these out and remember to change them when you're taking the next shot. The improvement in detail and colors alone will be worth the planning!

And finally, shoot, shoot and shoot — take tons of pictures. The more pictures you take, the better you'll get to know the strengths and weaknesses of your phone's camera.

On The Steep Side
The Xtreme in its name is about right, what with the radical X-shaped design that the JBL OnBeat Xtreme sports, not to mention a particularly heavy price-tag. So what do you get in an iPod/iPhone/iPad dock that costs almost as much as an entry-level iPad? A well-built dock that looks and plays the part with your Apple devices, and excellent audio performance, possibly the best I've heard from a dock when it comes to mid-ranges and the bass output. It also packs in Bluetooth music streaming capabilities and USB, aux in/out and video connectivity options. Though it has basic controls on the speaker itself, there's a remote that comes with the dock, but it's far too laggy for my liking. All in all, a comprehensive but pricey sound solution for your iDevices.
Rating: 7/10
Price: Rs 25,000

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