These days, a smartphone can give a dedicated camera a run for its money. It will often come with more than one camera, a high megapixel count, and sometimes even image stabilisation features – so you might wonder why you’d need any accessories as well. But there are some things a smartphone camera just can’t do on its own, and if you’ve spent any serious time behind the lens, you’ll probably have discovered them by now. Ever wished you could get more into your shot or wanted a greater zoom that avoids all those grubby pixels? Maybe you shoot a lot of video and long for more stable footage? For a fraction of the cost of a brand new camera, it’s possible to add many of these features to your existing smartphone.  

1. Expand your options with a lens kit

The surest way to start taking better shots is with a lens kit. Even if your smartphone comes with a great lens, it’s always going to be limited by the narrow width of the device. Clip-on lenses are the solution to that problem. A kit comes with a variety of lenses – a zoom lens for close-ups, a wide angle lens for when you just can’t fit everything in, even a fisheye for those comical curvy shots. The PNY 4-in-1 Smartphone Lens Kit even comes with a super wide angle lens as well. And with high quality glass lenses like those in the Hama 5IN1 Uni Lens Kit, you’ll get better quality shots because more light is being picked up. Explore your options.

2. Keep your camera steady for razor sharp focus

It doesn’t matter what you’re shooting, the key to getting standout shots is sharpness. Blur can work when it’s deliberate, but even then you want some elements to be in focus. A smartphone was never designed to be held like a camera so it can be tricky to keep it steady. There’s no better solution to this than a tripod, and the options are more imaginative than you might expect. The Joby GripTight ONE GorillaPod Magnetic not only has flexible legs that can wrap around anything, it also has super-strong magnets in the feet so you can attach it to all things metallic. For other funky designs, take a look at our full range.

3. Keep steady on the move

It’s all very well keeping things stable when you’re shooting a photo, but what about video? Even if your smartphone has image stabilisation, it’s still not great at capturing smooth pans, and your video will definitely be jerky if you try moving around as you shoot. Here’s where a gimbal comes in. Once the preserve of professional videographers, they keep your video footage steady by compensating for your movements. Used in most drones, it’s no surprise that DJI are the leaders in this field. Their DJI Osmo Mobile 2 Gimbal holds your smartphone in a grip while an accompanying app gives you full control over its features. Take a look at our YouTube video to find out how it works.

4. Don’t risk running out of juice

While it might not affect your ability to shoot better video or photos, running out of power will certainly bring your moment of creativity to an abrupt end. With the extra juice from a power pack, you’ll be prepared for all emergencies. Shooting video is a particular drain on battery life, and if your smartphone is showing its age, you’ll definitely benefit from extra power when you need it. The amount of power held in a power pack is measured in mAh. The Veho Pebble Endurance Portable Power Bank is one of the largest, with 15,000mAh of power – enough to charge an iPhone seven times over. If you’re happy with less, then prices quickly fall.

5. Make use of extra storage

Even if your smartphone comes with plenty of storage, you may not want it filled with content you’ll never use. Backup storage devices are ideal for this. There’s a range from SanDisk that is perfect for those on the go. The iXpand range is not only small and discrete, these USB devices can also suck the images from your mobile without going near a computer. Then, when it comes time to edit your latest masterpiece, you simply plug it into your laptop and copy the images across.

6. Shed some light on the matter

Adding light to your scene dramatically improves a shot. With a faster shutter speed, you get less grain and you’re more likely to stay in focus. The trouble is, the light you get from a smartphone flash is directed straight at your subject. When light comes slightly from the side, it makes a more flattering shot. If you’re shooting video, lighting is even more important. Brighten things up with an LED light. Although not specifically for a smartphone, it doesn’t have to be. Unlike the light you get from a torch, these add soft lighting to your scene, and if you want to mix things up a bit, you can place a coloured filter over the top. Manfrotto’s Lumimuse range of LED lights is perfect for the job.

7. Make it real

So, you’ve taken a great shot – what do you do with it next? If you want to print it out, dedicated smartphone printers weigh in at a fraction of the cost of a normal printer, and without the footprint that makes printers such an eyesore. Instax is one of the leaders in this market, with its retro-style printouts, while Canon’s Zoemini series  uses Zink technology so can print without using any ink. Of course, for superior quality, you can get your photos professionally printed onto Fujifilm paper with Jessops Photo. Just bring your smartphone into any store and we’ll do the hard work for you – and we can have the photos ready within a couple of hours.

Starting late March/early April

To help you shoot better photos with your smartphone, we’re running a new workshop that takes the mystery out of it. The aim of the workshop is to give you a better understanding of the fundamental elements of photography, composition, lighting, as well as an introduction to editing. The workshop is three hours long and includes a small photowalk around the local area. Open to anyone with a passion for photography (and a smartphone with a working camera), this is a great way to discover the hidden talents of your mobile and shoot impressive photos like those in this blog.

Find more about our workshops and photography experiences.

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