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How can I use a smart phone to take good bird photos?


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Assume the only thing I know about smart phone cameras is how to open the application itself and to push the button to take a photo.  Okay, you don't need to assume; those are facts.  What I know about using a phone's camera can be spray-painted on the head of a pin with plenty of room left for the dancing angels to mock my incompetence.  That's just for general photos; my attempts at photographing birds look like Pollack and Picasso on a bender.

So what tips, techniques, links, how-tos, or other basic info would you offer to a birder who doesn't have his 'real' camera with him and is restricted to a device he doesn't fully grok?

Thanks.

EDIT: I'm using an iPhone SE with iOS 12, if that makes any difference, although I hope this topic will include general tips that will be of use to others regardless of their devices.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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1 hour ago, Mike_56 said:

You sure  about good photo taken with smartphone ?

If answer yes -possible only in blue moon (my opinion).

The newer iPhones can take amazing photos!  

@Charlie Spencer, I suggest trying to digiscope.  Because iPhones tend to lose quality as you zoom. You can even get amount to hook you phone up to the eye piece.

Taken with a iPhone 6

43127179812_7b63d623cb_z.jpgClover sunset by MerMaeve, on Flickr

Edited by MerMaeve
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6 minutes ago, MerMaeve said:

The newer iPhones can take amazing photos!  

@Charlie Spencer, I suggest trying to digiscope.  Because iPhones tend to lose quality as you zoom. You can even get amount to hook you phone up to the eye piece.

Yeah, that requires buying a spotting scope.  Assuming I blew that kind of change, having a scope along implies I'm explicitly birding.  If that's the case, I'll have a 'real' camera too and won't need to use the phone.

I'm looking for suggestions for those situations when I'm not explicitly birding or toting around all the attendant gear, for when the phone is all I have.  I acknowledge that the tool may be insufficient; that's what I'm trying to determine.  I'm basically looking for the ability to get an identifiable photo, not to create great art.

Edited by Charlie Spencer
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Will you be carrying binoculars? I've never used one myself but there are many digiscoping adapters made for binoculars & I imagine you would at least be able to get usable ID shots. Here's what I found with a Google search, https://www.google.de/searchq=digiscoping+adapters+for+binoculars&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiHrdi50uHdAhXpmOAKHYAvAr4QsxgIKg&biw=1517&bih=737

 

 

 

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On 9/29/2018 at 10:16 PM, stitch58 said:

Will you be carrying binoculars? I've never used one myself but there are many digiscoping adapters made for binoculars & I imagine you would at least be able to get usable ID shots. Here's what I found with a Google search, https://www.google.de/searchq=digiscoping+adapters+for+binoculars&source=univ&tbm=shop&tbo=u&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiHrdi50uHdAhXpmOAKHYAvAr4QsxgIKg&biw=1517&bih=737

 

 

 

If I have my binos, I likely have a 'real' camera too.

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On 9/27/2018 at 1:59 PM, Charlie Spencer said:

Assume the only thing I know about smart phone cameras is how to open the application itself and to push the button to take a photo.  Okay, you don't need to assume; those are facts.  What I know about using a phone's camera can be spray-painted on the head of a pin with plenty of room left for the dancing angels to mock my incompetence.  That's just for general photos; my attempts at photographing birds look like Pollack and Picasso on a bender.

So what tips, techniques, links, how-tos, or other basic info would you offer to a birder who doesn't have his 'real' camera with him and is restricted to a device he doesn't fully grok?

Thanks.

EDIT: I'm using an iPhone SE with iOS 12, if that makes any difference, although I hope this topic will include general tips that will be of use to others regardless of their devices.

 

I suggest getting close enough to fill most of the frame with the bird, which isn't easy to do with a cell phone camera. If the bird you're trying to photograph is just a tiny dot on the screen, you're not likely to get a worthwhile photo, even for ID purposes. I seldom use my cell phone as a camera so I can't offer advise on how to set it up beyond it's default settings. If you're discouraged with your phone camera, you may want to consider a pocket camera that you can carry with you all the time. 

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