How to Use Pro Mode on Your Smartphone Camera

Smartphone cameras are better than ever and are generally nearly as good as a small handheld camera. Especially with features like 4K video, portrait mode, and night mode. But what you might not know, or might not be fully comfortable with, is Pro Mode. Smartphones have this advanced mode hidden away in the camera settings. This mode is for photographers who are used to working with the more manual controls that their DSLR cameras offer. The default automatic mode on phone cameras is plenty for most people, and it’s intelligent enough to pick the right settings for the moment. But to have full creative control and get the perfect shot, Pro Mode is here.

How to Get to Pro Mode

This guide will include screenshots from a Samsung Galaxy. But the process, controls, and best practices will be similar across other Android devices. Unfortunately, the iPhone doesn’t have a Pro mode. You’ll still be able to find some of these settings and terms in your camera app or in third-party camera apps.

The “MORE” section on the Samsung Galaxy camera app

Open your phone’s camera, then navigate to your full list of extra camera options. Locate and tap on Pro Mode. If you’re familiar with camera settings already, then you can probably figure it out from here. But for those of you who want to learn how to leverage the full power of your camera, we’ll define all of the available settings.

Advanced Settings

ISO – ISO controls the light sensitivity of a camera. Low values are ideal for brightly lit or stationary subjects. High values are better for poorly lit or fast-moving subjects. ISO is not a magical tool to take pictures in the dark, however – the higher the value, the more noise will be introduced to your photos.

Shutter Speed – Shutter speed is how slow or fast the camera shutter closes. A slow shutter speed lets in more light so the image will be brighter. A fast shutter speed lets in less light, and will thus result in a darker image. So a slow shutter speed is better for nighttime shots as well as scenery shots with no movement. And you should use a fast shutter speed for capturing photos of fast motion so that you don’t get a blurry image.

EV – EV is simply the exposure, which can adjust the overall brightness.

Focus – Focus lets you choose between auto and manual. Auto will automatically focus on what the camera sees fit and will work for most normal photos. Manual mode lets you adjust a slider to change the focus distance. It will let you achieve depth-of-field without moving your phone around. One direction is good for focusing right in front of you, and the other direction is good for focusing on far-away objects like scenery.

Adjusting focus

White Balance – White balance adjusts the color temperature. On one end of the spectrum is blue, or cold. On the other end of the spectrum is orange, or warm. You can adjust this while taking a photo so your photo can look true-to-life.

Adjusting white balance

Standard Controls

There are various standard controls that can make adjustments to your photo in-camera. This lets you control contrast, highlights, shadows, saturation, tint, and temperature all within the camera. These kinds of adjustments are easy to do in editing, but why not do them in-camera if you have the time to set it up?

Pro Mode is an awesome tool in smartphones that gives you more control over your photos. But phone cameras do such a great job already that it may not give you much of an advantage. That being said, it’s a fantastic entry point to learning DSLR photography. You can spend time playing with these settings on a device you already have, before spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on a DSLR setup. It’s a great starting point, and can make some of your photos stand out from the rest.

Do you use Pro Mode on your phone? Let us know if you find it useful or if you prefer to just put it on full auto and trust the device.

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