Cell Phone Photography for Corals and Inverts Getting Easier and Easier with Improving Technology


Feather Duster iPhone

The use of cell phones is nothing new in this hobby, as they’ve been a vital tool with applications that help us calculate how much calcium to dose in our tank and give us the ability to monitor and control our aquariums from afar. While these apps haven’t been around for too long, comparatively, something that has been in use for what seem like an eternity is cell phone cameras, and hobbyists are always improving aquarium photography with their phones. With the constant competition of who is the best and top dog of the smartphone industry, it is the camera in our phones that is always upgraded. For example, the iPhone 5 has an 8 megapixel camera. This year the iPhone 5s was released, and while it stayed with its 8 megapixel camera, it increased its aperture to f/2.4, allowing up to %33 more light into the camera. It also got really neat features like the burst mode allowing you to capture things in action with more success. It also got the slow-mo feature slowing videos down making for really neat shots of fish eating or swimming.

While DSLR macro shots are relatively nice, we all know that is another hobby that gets expensive. Nothing is going to beat a nice crisp shot you get with a true macro lens attached to that awesome camera of your choice, but we have found great success snapping close up pictures of our tanks with our phones. With the many application out there, photos on your phone are now really easy to edit. You can now “stitch” pictures together. We even used an app to show the growth rate of a Bubble Gum Monster chalice. Snapping pictures of your specimens to share with your reefer buds on Facebook or the next meeting is easier than ever and clearer too.

We do want to give a couple of tips to have better success, and some may seem more obvious than others. Turning off the pumps is key to taking a really well focused image. While we cannot stop our fish from swimming, we can keep that frogspawn from swaying its tentacles rapidly from the flow of our pumps. Having a clean glass is always helpful to make sure our camera focuses on a particular coral’s mouth and not that speckle on the glass. If you have cleaned both inside and outside of your glass and your phone still wants to focus elsewhere or the shot could be clearer it’s not a bad idea to grab a microfiber cloth and wipe the lens on your phone. To get really good close up shots, sometimes it’s better to stand a bit farther and use the zoom slider on our phone’s camera. Simply because our phones are not truly macro or have a 1:1 ratio, when we get too close to an object the camera does not know what to focus on so stepping away and zooming in and making sure to tap the screen to focus renders a much better shot.

Lastly have fun with it. Take as many pictures as you want. It’s not like the old days where you have to replace the film. Use apps to play with image. We played around with the filters on our iPhone and we got some interesting shots. We leave you with a couple of our own images taken with an iPhone 5. Enjoy and remember a picture is worth a thousand words.


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