our tips for getting the most out of this lens

This content is courtesy of Samsung and created by Humanoid xp

In photography, the zoom of a smartphone allows you to get closer to your subject, but not only. It’s also a prime lens for playing with depth of field and perspective. Here’s how to use it properly.

First digital, then optical, zoom is now widely installed in recent smartphones. A new sensor that offers great creative possibilities, but often goes unexploited. Because no, a telephoto lens doesn’t just allow you to get closer to your subject. It also gives the possibility to play with depth of field and perspective, and therefore offer completely new perspectives.

Here are our tips to get the most out of your smartphone’s zoom, almost like a camera. For this tutorial, we used one of the best smartphones of 2022: the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

Know and learn the zoom of your smartphone

If the zoom of smartphones is often a poor relation of the image panoply of our devices, it is mainly because it is digital. In this case, the phone will artificially crop the image, thereby degrading its quality. Nowadays, high-end smartphones usually benefit from a telephoto lens, which provides natural image magnification.

The back of the Samsung Galaxy S22+ // Source: Robin Wycke – Fandroid

In our Samsung Galaxy S22+ that we used to illustrate this entire article, we found:

  • a 50 megapixel wide-angle lens (f / 1.8);
  • a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle lens (f/2.2);
  • a 10-megapixel x3 telephoto lens (f / 2.4).

Here is the x3 telephoto lens with a 10 megapixel sensor that interests us. Although it shows a lower definition than other sensors, it only allows you to get as close as possible to your subject. On the software side, the Samsung Galaxy S22 + also offers a digital zoom of up to x30. It’s fun, but beware of image quality degradation.

0.6, 1 and x3 are the three optical magnifications offered by the Samsung Galaxy S22+

Therefore, it is necessary to differentiate the telephoto lens from the digital zoom, as the result will not be the same depending on which one you use.

The Galaxy S22 Ultra's ×10 telephoto lens

The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s ×10 telephoto lens

The Galaxy S22 Ultra’s ×10 telephoto lens

The Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra goes further than the Galaxy S22+. It has one of the most impressive ×10 telephoto lenses on the market. This ×10 zoom is very practical for creating tight frames without having to move. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is capable of reaching ×100 with digital zoom!

Use zoom for framing

No, zooming isn’t just about getting closer to the subject. In photography, long focal lengths (understand zooms) are very popular for the depth of field they offer. The focus area (where the subject is focused) is smaller. The rest of the picture is blurry, but it’s voluntary! This effect is called bokeh.

To take advantage of this correctly, you need to be careful to remove your main subject from the background or foreground, to reinforce this feeling of depth of field and blur. Crafting your photos becomes essential to make the most of your smartphone’s zoom.

Leave too frontal and simple framings and try new things to get more interesting renderings. Be careful, though, remember to focus on the topic that interests you.

Here’s our three-step advice on when to use your telephoto lens and get the most out of it:

  • Have you ever realized that your smartphone’s wide angle is too wide and doesn’t highlight the subject enough? Increase!
  • The potential is there, but is something wrong? You are probably too close to your subject this time.
  • Go back a few steps and take a step back. You can more easily overlap your different plans.

This is the process used for this series of photos we took with the Samsung Galaxy S22+.

The following image shows us how to perform this technique. Instead of photographing the reflection of the light in the sea with my zoom lens, I deliberately left these metal bars in the foreground providing contrast. Then I focus on them to get the desired depth of field and background blur.

Photo taken with Samsung Galaxy S22+.

Same principle here, with this series of photos. We see for example the blurred flowers in the foreground which will highlight my subject, the two sportsmen in the background. Same with the small piece of wall that naturally frames my image.

Therefore, the key is the superposition of plans. It is also often necessary to be very close to the foreground to see the blur effect. Feel free to approach the elements, move around and try different framings.

Consider zooming in for portrait photos

To further accentuate the bokeh effect, consider using portrait mode with x3 zoom which will apply a digital blur around the focus area. Our Samsung Galaxy S22 excels in this area: it recognizes the shapes that are blurry and those that should remain sharper. What should take advantage of the combination of natural and software blur effects.

So, by using the same approach to framing the face, you can achieve great results more easily. The advantage of this mode is the possibility to change the effect or the intensity of the blur a posteriori if you are not satisfied with the final result. Everything is done directly from the Galaxy S22 photo gallery, which saves the settings and allows you to return to them later.

Portrait mode and optical zoom are also excellent allies for taking true portrait photos, with faces. Unlike a wide angle, a telephoto lens distorts faces very little. What always appears under its best profile.

And then, a telephoto lens can also be a big help for macro photography. If your sensor doesn’t allow you to focus within inches of the subject, zooming can artificially bring you closer to your subject. Discover our article dedicated to macro photography.

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