Flickr users upload close to 100 million photos to the photo-sharing site each month. And, according to Yahoo, the iPhone remains the most common ‘camera’ they use to upload all those images. As more people leave the digital SLR – and even the point-and-shoot – at home, it’s worth taking a look at how to get better photos from a smartphone. Here are some handy tips for taking better smartphone snaps.

Adjust exposure with your finger

Your iPhone may not have the sophisticated exposure mode options of a fully featured digital camera, but you can still tweak the exposure, even without a spot meter or an exposure compensation dial. All you have to do is tap the screen.

You probably already know that you can focus the iPhone’s camera by tapping the screen: the camera immediately tries to focus on whatever point you tapped. What you might not realise is that the camera sets the photo’s exposure off that particular part of the scene as well. 

Point your phone at a high-contrast scene such as a dark room with a lamp in one corner. On the phone’s screen, tap the lamp, then a dark part of the room; you should see the phone adjust the exposure. Now you’ve got no excuse for taking badly exposed photos. 

Turn off the flash; turn on the HDR mode

Try disabling the flash and use the HDR (high dynamic range) mode instead: about 90 percent of the time, you’ll get better photos this way. You might be wary of HDR because you know that it usually works by taking several photos with different exposures and then combining them into a single shot. Well, fear not: the iPhone cheats by taking one photo and tweaking its dynamic range, so you won’t have to stand around for 10 seconds holding the phone steady.

Illuminate your shot

If you insist on using the flash, or you’re shooting in a location that requires extra light, you don’t need to compose your photo in the dark. Many camera apps let you force the flash to fire continuously. Top Camera (£1.99, has this feature. Turn on the flash, compose your shot bathed in the luxury of the light it gives off, and then take your shot. The flash turns off automatically after the exposure, helping to save your battery.

Choosing the right app can be critical to the process.

Add a lens

Believe it or not, you can attach add-on lenses to your iPhone. Although some would consider this option a little geeky, such lenses do give you the ability to turn your lowly smartphone into a camera with a telephoto lens, a wide-angle lens or even a macro lens. Interested? Read our review of the VTEC wide-angle lens at, or peruse the range of attachable lenses at Amazon.