Wrinkle filters and display flashes: Tips for great selfies

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 31 Mar 2018

If your front camera doesn’t have a wide-angle lens, then something like a selfie-stick is often needed. Ideally, those are light, stable, can hold the phone securely and can take pictures with a Bluetooth button. — dpa

Practically every smartphone is equipped with a front as well as a main camera – and is thus perfectly equipped to take selfies. Even so, not all selfies look good. That could be due to the quality of the smartphone camera, or even out-of-date software.

There are huge differences in the quality of smartphone cameras. Users can usually count on good picture quality with phones in the premium smartphone class. But even some less expensive smartphones costing under US$200 (RM773) can take good pictures. Tests in trade magazines can provide some advice and orientation here.

Front cameras mostly offer a lower resolution than the main camera on the reverse side of a smartphone. “If you want to print the photo in a large size, use the main lens on the rear side,” says photo journalist Heico Neumeyer.

But there are also smartphones whose speciality is front-camera selfies. They offer features like wide-angle lenses or resolutions whose scale is oriented on the main camera. The advantage of the wide-angle lens is that an outstretched arm will suffice to capture several people including the background at once – and thus perfect for group photos.

Wide-angle lenses distort the pictures somewhat, however. That’s why Neumeyer advises users to hold the phone far enough out and then crop out any superfluous parts later with an app.

If the front camera doesn’t have a wide-angle lens, then something like a selfie-stick is often needed. Ideally, those are light, stable, can hold the phone securely and can take pictures with a Bluetooth button.

An increasing amount of public places like stadiums, amusement parks and museums are banning use of these arm extensions – so it’s best to check beforehand.

Smartphone manufacturers have also gotten creative to help ensure photos don’t come out blurry. Instead of cumbersomely pressing on the display, users can simply press one of the volume buttons or one of the sensor keys on the rear side that are usually there to lock the screen with a fingerprint or measure heart rates. But pictures can also be taken sometimes with hand signals or voice commands. And many photo apps can even recognise when everyone in a picture is smiling — and then immediately take a picture.

If it’s too dark out to take decent pictures, an LED flash can help. While this too was once exclusively located on the main camera on the rear side, more and more manufacturers are adding LED brighteners to the front camera of new smartphones – or simply using luminous smartphone screens as a replacement flash. “In these cases, the display screen is briefly entirely white and increased to maximum brightness to simulate a flash,” says Peter Nonhoff-Arps from the photography magazine c’t Fotographie.

A little bit of post-production doesn't hurt either, and anyone who wants to bring out the best in their selfies can quickly rework them with an editing apps. These offer the possibility to trim, correct colours and apply pre-set filters that do a lot of the work. Instagram is especially known for its filters, but there are also unlimited alternatives with many more possibilities.

“Snapseed also allows for good picture correction for selfies – for free and without advertising for Android and iOS devices,” recommends photography expert Neumeyer. The app offers a number of correction possibilities and effects, including facial recognition technology that smooths skin tones, brings out the eyes and even adjusts the picture angle after the fact.

And if that’s still not enough, the app Facetune specialises in optimising portraits and selfies. With simple hand gestures, wrinkles can be smoothed over, while teeth can made whiter, eyes bigger and noses smaller. The app is available for Android and iOS and costs around US$4 (RM15.45).

The app Selfissimo, by contrast, is for smaller photo sessions. The app is free for Android and iOS and automatically takes a picture when subjects in the frame stop moving or if the smartphone is no longer moved, enabling users to create a series of photos with different poses. — dpa

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