Taking pictures is an easy thing to do as almost everyone has a smartphone with camera capability nowadays. However, I often see blurry pictures when I browse through online forums. Nothing is more frustrating for both the owner and viewers trying to identify a watch with only blurry pictures on hand. Of course, with proper lighting equipment and a decent camera, it would be even more difficult to take a blurry photo, but no everyone has access to those. Fortunately, it is possible to take studio-like pictures of your watches just using a smartphone. I am here to share a few tips so everyone can take nice, clear pictures of watches using just his smartphone and proudly present them to the world.

The goal is very straight forward: to take ready-to-upload pictures of your watches without any post processing (e.g. using Photoshop or other software to enhance the image). All you need is a smartphone and, of course, your watches.

The single most important thing in photography is lighting. I would even go as far as saying photography is all about manipulation of lights. If you want a clear picture, the first thing you want to make sure is that the subject receives sufficient light. Stronger light not only enables the camera to capture more details of the subject, but it also decrease the time needed for the shutter (thus, lower the chances of unsteady hand effect). Some people would recommend an electronic flash unit, but it takes some time to master. For amateurs, I would say natural sun light is your best friend. It is a bright light source that does not require extra diffusing equipment, and the best of all: it is free. You can just pick a sunny day and experiment with different time of the day to get the result and the feel you want. Please note that you might not want to cast your own shadow onto the subject or let the lights reflect directly into the lens. Personally I would avoid noon because of it is difficult to take top pictures without casting my own shadow onto my subject.

Once you got the light, the second thing you want to conquer is your smartphone. The most common mistake people make when using their smartphone to take close-up pictures is that they hold their smartphone too close to the subject. It is understandable because people usually that the subject to fill the whole screen, but not just a small part of the picture. However, most smartphones have a minimum focal distance that is usually longer than you would expect. Of course you can take a large resolution picture and then use other software crop the extra background off, but that is out of the scope of this article.

If your smartphone has macro-mode (usually indicated by a flower icon), use it. If not, do not worry. Just move your smartphone back until your smartphone can focus the subject that is in the middle of the screen (usually indicated by a green square). Once the subject is in focus, try to zoom-in by touch the screen with your two fingers, and then split outward (or a zoom-out button like volume+, if you phone has one). You will see the subject remains in focus while getting larger. Just click on the shutter when you are satisfy with the composition and focus. Different phones have different settings, but it is generally the same. You can just play with different settings (such as HDR) of your phone to get better results.

If you plan to use other software to edit and shrink the pictures afterward, take pictures with the maximum resolution to get better editing results. If you plan to upload the pictures directly, then choose medium sized picture resolution for faster upload.

Now, let's summarize the key elements.
1. Choose a sunny day. Do not cast your own shadow onto the subject or let the lights reflect directly into the lens.
2. Do not place the smartphone too close to the subject. Make sure the subject is in focus before zooming in with the touch screen.
3. Choose the right output format for the pictures. If you plan to upload the picture directly onto the web, try to limit the file size under 1MB each by adjusting the picture resolution.
4. Good luck, have fun!

The follow images are taking by entry level smartphones retailed under USD$150. All images are taken using built-in camera software without any post processing (i.e. uploaded directly from the phone).

Sony Xperia L C2105

Xiaomi RedMi Note 3G


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