It doesn’t take a smartphone photographer to get stellar prints from a pocket camera. The one installed on your smartphone, aka, your pocket computer. Most are equipped with camera lenses capable of getting decent quality pictures. To get these into print at sizes much larger than your phone or tablet, there are a few tweaks that ought to be done to do your pictures justice.
It all starts with knowing what you are working with…
Know Your Cameras Limitations
For picture quality, it is not enough to go by the megapixel count of the camera lens. That only refers to the megapixels that the lens can capture in a photo. The size of the lens is what allows it to capture more light.
New smartphone models have crazy high-resolution camera lenses. From 12MP to 108MP wide, possibly higher. This is where things get technologically confusing because a bigger camera lens has better light sensitivity, whereas the bigger megapixel count means it captures more details.
A decent sized camera lens with 12MP will be enough to capture high-resolution photos. At 108MP wide, you don’t necessarily get 108MP details. Given the tiny size of phone camera lenses, there is a finite amount of light they can capture. These use ‘pixel binning’ which sees the 108MP sensor capture much more data, then the software dumps batches of pixels into bins or buckets. Essentially a 9:1 ratio means a 108MP wide shot is 12 megapixels per photo site batched 9 times to create a super-high-resolution photo.
A 12MP camera would give you a high-resolution photo ready for print. Super-high-resolution are images with more details captured and that can let you print at larger sizes.
Megapixels to Print Size Capabilities
Despite the technology on phone camera sensors differing, the metric most used to gauge the print size is the megapixel count. It gives you a good estimate of the sizes you can achieve without having to use feature rich or professional grade editing software to resample images. Image resampling is different from resizing because it involves adding pixels to the original print. Something that takes practice to master.
As a guideline for print sizes, 8MP cameras can print terrific quality up to 8” x 10”. 12MP and above can manage high-res photos up to 11” x 14”. These are only for the best print quality. The higher the resolution of the image, the bigger it can be printed.
Edit to Enhance the Image before Printing
Rarely is a photo the best it can be without edits being done. The basic in-phone camera is enough to take good quality pictures. To take the quality of your photos up a notch, add an image editing app to your phone. There are plenty to choose from. One of the widest used free versions without annoying ads getting in your way is the Snapseed app. It’s supported by Google and available on iOS too. This has HDR (High Dynamic Range) filters. It works similar to the photo enhancement features on Instagram.
Where these editing tools are slick is for colour enhancement. The light you see when you snap the photo is never the same as the light the camera sensor catches. The most basic point of editing is to restore the colour balance. Enrich it, tone it down, or go sepia if it fits better.
For those special memories, you capture on your phone camera, try to do the editing while the picture is still fresh in your memory so you can edit the picture to reflect the reality of the scene.
That could be adjusting the blue of the sky, darkening a cloud, or enhancing shadows around objects that the camera did a poor job capturing. You can edit in the fine details that make your images all the more personal, and therefore, sentimental. Those are the memories worth printing and framing.