Smartphone Images And Yearbook Quality: Can You Have Both?

Smartphone images tips

Until recently, students were advised to capture all school memories with DSLR cameras. While engaging and convenient, smartphone technology did not allow for the higher quality photos needed for print publication. But mobile technology has been moving quickly; these days most smartphones can capture suitable yearbook-worthy images!

This is good news for schools that have difficulty purchasing or sharing cameras among the yearbook team — particularly in 2020, when social distancing and equipment sanitization is key. What’s great is that many people keep their phones on them at all times and can capture that spontaneous moment with little effort!

Here are some thoughts to consider to create a stunning and affordable yearbook using smartphone images in your yearbook program.

Small Image Sensor

Most smartphones have an image sensor much smaller than a standard level DSLR camera. The sensor within the device determines the resolution available; it records the light, colour and photo information. 

Don’t Use Zoom

Because the smartphone’s sensor is so small, the photographer needs to minimize any zoom or ambient issues that will diminish the quality. Essentially, there is little room for error! So, be sure you get as close to the subject as possible. Ideally, never zoom in at all. 

Using the zoom on a smartphone is merely cropping the photo. It reduces quality every time. 

Light Matters

Use the best lighting possible, preferably ambient lighting, and only use the smartphone’s flash if absolutely necessary. Red-eye and shadows are likely to appear when a camera’s flash feature is used. 

Still Motion & Action Shots

The smartphone will work best with objects and people that are stationary. However, if the smartphone has the ‘burst’ feature, take advantage to help capture action shots. For example, a yearbook photographer could use the burst feature at a school sporting event or for candid group shots.

Use Image Editing Software

Never, ever, edit images on the phone itself. Only use image editing software, such as PhotoShop or Lightroom, to manipulate images captured with a smartphone camera. 

To preserve the integrity of images captured with a smartphone, do not:

  • Add filters
  • Use auto-correction
  • Crop
  • Implement photo editing tools

Once you use the phones’ editing tools, you will degrade the image quality. Instead, download unedited images to a computer and perform all editing tasks from there using a photo-editing software program.

Smartphone Camera Tips

Keep it Clean

Just like when using a regular camera, clean the lens. To clean the lens on your smartphone, use a soft cloth and gently wipe away fingerprints, dust and debris from the smartphone lens. You’ll be able to capture better images to show off in your yearbook more easily!

Keep it Steady

Hold your smartphone steady, with two hands, and preferably in landscape mode.

Use the Grid

Turn on the grid for better photo composition; most smartphones have one with the default setting as off.

Smartphone Images File Format

Consider the file format on the smartphone. For example, on the iPhone, the default setting is “high efficiency” format. The file type will be .heic, which can be hard to work with — it needs to be converted to a different file to be used in most software. Therefore, change the setting to “most compatible,” which will save the file as jpg.

Review tutorials for the specific smartphones in use, either in class or assigned to the students.

dpi Resolution

Finally, pay attention to resolution when using images for your yearbook. A smartphone will typically shoot at 72 dpi, but the size may appear high. As per usual, all yearbook images should be at 300 dpi. 

You can adjust a smartphone image in Photoshop to 300 dpi, but make sure you do not “resample image.” Image resampling will reduce the size of your image. Much of the time, this will be fine. But sometimes, the image will be much smaller than intended for the layout. 

You may find yourself with spreads that have more images than usual, compensating for some smaller photos while preserving their quality.

Explore Your Smartphone

A mobile-friendly tool like your smartphone has excellent potential for making your yearbook images outstanding. Like everything, play around with your smartphone’s capabilities, practice and review. Having such an accessible camera can really open the door to more fun and candid moments in your yearbook!

Have more questions about yearbook images? Contact the knowledgeable team at FutureBook Yearbook. We’re a leading yearbook company specializing in providing schools with affordable, sustainable and beautiful yearbook options.

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