|Video Version at 4K 60fps - https://youtu.be/8q6zjwSH2Q0|
So as it goes with each theme park visit, not only do I get to learn about the extent to which I can use my smart phone for photos and videos, I inevitably get asked questions, tips, tricks or some combination to help other guests take better pictures. The aim of this post is summarize all of the above to publicly help as many people as possible use their smartphone to the best of its abilities. While some stuff may seem obvious, on the flip side, you'd be amazed at how many people don't check/change settings, don't know about certain features, etc. It's no one's fault really or due to a learning curve in my opinion. I think it's a matter of more people wanting to just use their new smartphone right out of the box. To that end, let's go over some of the settings I play with when I get a new smartphone.
To get the simple item out of the way, I used the OnePlus 10 Pro on my trip to California Adventure. I've exclusively used OnePlus products since the 3T so some features may be exclusive to OnePlus but in playing with the Pixel 6 Pro and Galaxy S 22, there are many comparable features available across all devices.
- Make sure your phone's HDR mode is set to Auto or On. I used to say to keep it on all the time but the auto algorithms have gotten pretty good in the past few years to the point where it doesn't matter much...or at least I can't tell the difference unless I really look at the photo or zoom in a bunch
- Set your aspect ratio to 16x9 or higher. This goes without saying and most phone's default is 16x9 at least but I still say to check because the last thing you want is to take a picture and it's set to 4x3 or some random aspect ratio and you don't get the shot you thought you did
- Look for the macro button. Sometimes you see something you want to really get a picture of but you're too close to get the same shot as what you're seeing. This is where the macro shot comes in handy. OnePlus has a dedicated button for normal, macro and micro shots but in case the button isn't handy, find where it is in your camera app so you can get to it quickly.
- My biggest pet peeve is people who shoot in portrait mode or take a panorama when a landscape shot would get a better result. My general rule of thumb is to always take pictures in landscape because what's the point of having a picture as a memory if you are missing 2/3 to 3/4 of the shot you were taking. I also do the same thing when taking pictures of the group I'm traveling with because sad to say, I've seen their faces a billion times so a picture with no background context means little. I always tell people to take the landscape shot to get the people and the background so we have the memory of where we were visiting.
- Right off the bat, the first thing I recommend doing it setting the video quality to 4K and 60fps if possible. If on a flagship phone, this setting along with additional options like 8k or 120fps may also be available. These can be used as well but remember that the file size will increase so balancing video quality settings with storage space will come into play. Also, video sharing sites like YouTube currently only support 4k and 60fps so using higher video settings doesn't make sense for now. If not sharing to streaming sites and/or you're backing up your videos to a desktop computer, I would say max out the settings to your hearts content. (If on a budget to midrange phone, the max setting may be maxed out something like 1080p with no fps adjustment options so I would recommend maxing out the available options as the file size should not be an issue)
- The setting that I'm undecided about is the aspect ratio as I like the wider angle recording for being able to zoom in and out on the fly but recording at 16x9 gets more of the shot without doing much else. I'm currently using 16x9 but I would say to play around with the options on your device to see which option works best for you.
- Much like taking pictures, I generally shoot videos in landscape because I want to get as much of the shot in the video in the shot and is more "cinematic." I know the trend these days is to shoot in portrait (probably because it's easier to take videos with one hand) but I usually reserve this for quick videos that i don't intend to keep for anything important.
- Summary - The long and the short of everything above is to play with your camera settings and max them out. I recommend setting your photo settings to at least HDR Auto and full screen preview. For videos, set the recording setting to at least 4k 60fps because it is nice to have a video quality that matches your photo quality. Also, if you (even accidentally) get a shot in your video that you'd like as a picture, then you can screenshot it and not have to worry about the quality. Lastly, I didn't bring up an option for video format, specifically H.264 vs H.265 but if I currently use H.265 because it optimizes the file size for larger video files. I haven't noticed a degraded quality by using this over H.264 but that could also just be me.