good vlogging camera phone

What Makes a Good Camera Phone for Vlogging

What makes a good camera phone for vlogging? There are many factors that you need to take into consideration. When you choose a smartphone for vlogging, it makes sense to pay attention to some phone’s specifications. This means that you should not only pay attention to how many GBs of memory the phone has or how many megapixels the camera has. You need to pay attention to some slight details in the specifications of this or that model.

This is not an easy job as, normally, an ordinary user doesn’t have an idea of what FPS or “focal length” means. But these are the things that influence much the final result of your future vlog videos. So, what makes the best camera phone for vlogging? Read on to know the meaning of the strange terms in your phone camera specs and the main points you have to pay attention to.

How Many Megapixels is Good for a Phone

A megapixel (MP) is 1 million pixels. Pixels are microscopic dots or squares that are structured like pieces of a mosaic to create a complete picture. They are put together in rows and columns in a chessboard mode but on a smaller scale. Their primary function is to determine the resolution of your image. For example, if a camera has 12 megapixels, it means that the resulting image is made up of 12 million tiny squares. More megapixels provide more definition. Though, it doesn’t mean that the bigger number of MPs will make your photo or video better. There are so many other factors affecting the quality of the image.

The phone with the most megapixels is a good choice for those who like or need to crop the final image. A higher-megapixel picture has more pixels to work with, so more MPs to edit. Also, more MPs give you better printing quality. Though, in reality it will only work out well if the prints are large enough. If it is not the case, before looking for which phone has the most megapixels, think that lots of MPs make image files larger. And they will occupy much more storage space than you expect.

So, how many megapixels is good for a phone? In fact, to shoot a good video for your vlog or to make a nice pic, you don’t anything above 16 megapixels. A good-quality smartphone camera will provide you a good balance between the number and the size of megapixels. Instead of concentrating on the numbers of MPs, you better pay attention to the other features of the camera to know where you need to add some smartphone camera accessories to make the final result better.

Phone Camera Sensor Size

Camera sensor size or phone camera sensor size is the thing that newbies normally ignore while choosing a camera, though it one of the main indicators of image quality. It is a complex of light-sensitive MPs that capture light as it enters the camera. Then this information about the light goes to the processor and is being used to recreate the image of the scene. The larger your camera’s sensors are, the more light it captures, providing images with less noise and more detail. This is especially important when you have to shoot in low light.

Normally, a big camera sensor can be found in a pro camera, while smartphones offer cameras with smaller camera sensors. For now, the largest sensor camera phone is Nokia Pureview 808 with its 1/1.2” sensor (like a pro camera). The other mobiles show more modest results. Nevertheless, it is not a reason to refuse the idea of a smartphone as the main device to shoot your vlog. If you use good daylight or an additional source of light for the video you won’t notice the difference. Besides, these small camera sensors offer you other benefits, like more zoom, smaller overall camera sizes, and lower prices.

Phone Camera Pixel Size

Phone camera pixel size, does it matter? Normally a few people think of it while choosing a cameraphone. Though, it is very important as it defines how well your smartphone camera will perform. Long story short, the pixels catch the light. So, the bigger will be the pixels, the more light they catch and the better image they provide, even in low light. This is clear. The tricky moment that choosing the phone we pay attention to the number of pixels forgetting that the more pixels you put on a sensor, the smaller they get. This means they catch less light so your pics risk to be of pretty poor quality. In other words, a 1/2.5-inch sensor with 12MP has less pixels but they are bigger than the ones in the same sensor with 20 MP. So, the 12 MP sensor will likely outperform the 20MP one in low light. Meanwhile, the 20MP camera has more resolution.

If you are going to shoot in low light, take a look at the flagship smartphones from Apple, Samsung and Google. The other models have smaller pixels. But don’t worry, most of cameraphone of other companies have larger sensors and additional built-in software for balance. In the very end, you will get excellent results.

Phone Camera Aperture

When you choose your smartphone, you normally see the “aperture” point in the list of specifications. Do you know what is it? If you are a professional photographer or a cameraman, you do. If not, here is a simplified explanation. This stuff is actually an altering opening in your camera, which is located midst of the lens and the camera sensor. Its main function is to regulate how much light comes to the sensor. An adjustable aperture in the camera gives you a possibility to control and modify the amount of light on your images and correct things like depth-of-field. You can switch between a larger aperture, which is good for shooting portraits, and a narrow aperture for shooting a landscape with clear details both in the foreground and background. The problem is that unlike a regular cam, where the aperture is normally adjustable, even the best cameraphones have a fixed aperture. Their lenses are small, so it is necessary to use a wide aperture to allow enough light to come in. This means that if you use a mobile phone as the main camera, you have to shoot everything at a wide aperture. Though, you still get a good depth of field as smartphones have a small lens with a short focal length. Besides, there is a way to reduce the influence of the wide phone camera aperture and get the image you need. You can come closer to the objects you are going to capture. Such a trick allows you to fill the frame and increase background blur. Or, you can purchase a telephoto lens that will quickly resolve the problem.

Phone Lenses and Focal Length

Big brands offer more and more phone lenses in the back camera, actively advertising the “dual-lens” and “triple-lens” smartphones. The phones with four or even five “wide” and “ultra-wide” lenses are considered to be the best phone camera lens attachments on the market. What exactly do these smartphone lenses do?

In a few words, these lenses let you fit more in a shot. This is the same as if you step back a bit with a standard camera to catch more in the frame. The wider the lenses the more figurative steps back you take. Agree, this sounds great. Though, keep in mind that an ultra-wide lens lets some distortion appear on your image even if the up-to-date smartphones have all the necessary adjustments to make it as natural as possible.

In the camera specs, look at focal length (a basic description of a photographic lens that tells us the angle of view) and field of view to understand how much is going to fit in a photo. A longer focal length is necessary for objects further away. A smaller focal length captures more of the scene in front of you. For example:

  • 17mm – Extreme Wide Angle. Such lenses are perfect for architectural and landscape shooting.
  • 21-35mm – Wide Angle. It is good for 4K slow motion videos and landscape photography.
  • 35-70mm – Normal Zoom. This is what you need for everyday photography.
  • 70-135mm – Telephoto Zoom. This type of lenses is for shooting portraits.
  • 135-300mm – Telephoto. This type is in handy for those who shoot wildlife, sports, birds.

Usually, camera phone lenses focal length is in between 21mm and 35mm. If you need a different angle, you need to buy lenses apart according to your needs. Normally, such a combination works great and you get a pro image as a result.

Phone Camera Autofocus

The term “auto-focus” means the capacity of a cam to make a clear automatic focus when you shoot a video or take a picture. For now, there are three types of phone camera autofocus:

  • Contrast-detection. If your phone uses this autofocus method, this means it moves in different directions to find the point of supreme contrast, a focus. It is used on the biggest part of the budget smartphones. Usually, the contrast-detection autofocus does a good job in focussing the image. Nevertheless, this method has a lit of cons. This method is pretty slow, and doesn’t always work well in low luminance conditions or when you are taking a pic of a moving object.
  • Phase-detection. This is an up-to-date method that can be found in middle and higher-end devices, including such big brands as Samsung and iPhone. With phase-detection auto-focus, the cam analyzes light from two apertures. It is a fast and efficient method that allows making sharp videos and pictures of a moving object. Though, it is still not a 100% guarantee of a good image if you shoot in darkness.
  • Laser. It is a different method that doesn’t completely rely on light. In this case, the phone camera transmits infrared light to the object and thus calculates the distance to it. The laser autofocus is super fast and extra efficient, even in dimly lit conditions, but its range of effectiveness is just 5 meters. If your object is situated further, the phone switches to contrast-detection autofocus. This type was used on some of LG smartphones, like LG G3 and LG G4.

Image Stabilization

Before you buy a smartphone for vlogging check out the image stabilization type of the phone’s camera. In the specifications, it is marked as IOS or EIS. Most smartphones have one of those built-in stabilization technologies or a combo of two. Which one is more suitable for you? Well, neither of these technologies can remove the consequences you see in the clips with large movement, so if you are shooting in movement you better get a good gimbal for yourself. Nevertheless, these inbuilt stabilization systems can reduce or even remove those little imperfections created by your trembling hands, for example.

All the big brands tell that OIS is more suitable for taking photos, while EIS is destined for making smooth videos. So what are these systems and what is the difference?

OIS or Optical Image Stabilization means that the image is stabilized by changing the optical path of the sensor. When you take a picture, the camera’s gyroscope senses the unwanted movement. After that, the motors move the lens or the sensor to the opposite direction of that movement. In the end, the stabilization comes before the image hits the sensor, so you won’t get any worsening in quality. This makes OIS a perfectly suitable stabilization technology for taking pictures.

EIS or Electronic Image Stabilization is technology based on a different principle. This type of stabilization is special software. The system still detects camera shake using the sensors, but all the corrections are made when the image already hits the image sensor. In EIS technology the lens doesn’t move, so capturing each frame in your video is never slowed down by mechanical parts. EIS only needs to adjust the image. And, as a result, you get a smoother video. So, if you are going to shoot lots of videos you better choose an EIS or OIS+EIS camera over an optical image stabilization phone camera.

Video Resolution and Frame Rate

In your phone specs, you can see what maximum resolution and frame rate you can reach shooting your clips. The resolution specs show how many pixels will be shown on a screen. For instance, 4K=2160p, FHD=1080p, HD=720p. The bigger the number of pixels the sharper and clearer will be the final image. Though, take into consideration that not all devices of your potential viewers have the screens able to reproduce 4K or even FHD resolution. The phone camera frame rate is normally described by an “FPS” number. FPS stands for “frames per second”. It describes how many frames (images) are taken in one second. The higher the fps rate, the more natural-looking video you get. In the specifications, you normally see 24 fps, 30 fps or 60 fps. 24 fps is a cinematic standard. 30 fps is the “base frame rate”. In the phone video resolution settings, you can opt for 24 fps for a cinematic look of your clips, or for 30 fps to make a standard video. 60 fps and higher is usually used for slow motions to make specific effects, like action shots, smooth moves, or slowing down a peak moment. Some flagship Samsung, Huawei, Meizu smartphones and iPhones can offer you 120 fps and 240 fps. They serve for very slow and extremely slow motions and enable you to make your videos special. Though, don’t forget that when you use 120 fps or higher, you lose in the overall quality of the image.

HDR

What is HDR on camera phone? HDR is short for High Dynamic Range imaging. This feature you can find on almost all smartphones. When you opt for it, your camera takes three pictures instead of one and then merges them into one, highlighting the best parts of each photo. As a result, you get pictures with rich colors and a great balance between the dark and the lighter areas. The HDR mode is perfect for landscape photos, portraits in sunlight, low-light scenes. Though, you better switch it off when you take a pic of a moving object as you risk to get a blurred photo.

If we are talking about an HDR phone camera for video recording, remember that HDR mode for video can be found just on a few smartphones at the moment. Normally, these are flagships. Good examples are Samsung Galaxy S10+ and Sony Xperia XZ3.

Bottom Line

So, what makes a good camera for vlogging? In a few words, the optimal number of MPs is 12 and higher as it is enough to make clear pictures and videos. The sensor should be big enough, so you catch enough light while shooting. Then, your camera must have autofocus and preferably should have HDR also for videos. The issues that you might have with a fixed aperture and wide angle of shooting can be resolved easily. You just need to purchase specific additional lenses for your phone. The image stabilization is also an important point, though anyways you will have to buy a gimbal for smooth video if you plan to shoot in movement. This means, that a wide range of modern smartphones are good enough to start your vlogging career. After reading this article, you already have all the essential information that helps you in this job.