Five Pro Tips for the BlackBerry Z10 Camera by JT White

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This past week I have highlighted two of JT White’s gorgeous photo shoots taken with the BlackBerry Z10 camera in low light. The first was in black and white and the second showed off its capabilities in color. I asked Josh if he would be willing to share some of the tips he discovered for shooting with his BlackBerry Z10 and he was more than happy to help us all out. He graciously provided his top five tips for using the BlackBerry Z10 as a camera for us to expand our skills.

So, here are JT White’s five useful tips for using the BlackBerry Z10 as a camera:

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1. Meter Properly!

This is perhaps the most important considering the negativity surrounding the camera on the Z10. The Z10 uses a simple spot meter which means the sensor will decide how much adjustment needs to be done to account for conditions. If a scene is relatively dark, selectively meter for something other than a point of intense light unless you wish only that light to be visible in the scene.

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2. Don’t be afraid of flash!

No matter what your friends may tell you, smart phone cameras all suck in low light. The exception maybe being the Nokia Pureview 808 (which I tested) but who has time for Symbian. If you “need” a photo to be sharp and grain-less then use the flash. It’s there for a reason. Remember to still meter properly. If you do not, the flash will assume there isn’t enough light or think there is too much and will fire accordingly. The flash is meant to “fill” the light.

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3. Be creative and embrace the grain!

As with any smart phone camera, the Z10 has limitations. Don’t concern yourself with them. Take it from someone who uses an iPhone that it has its own limitations. All smart phone cameras have difficulty dealing with light. Photos often come out shaky or out of focus. Don’t fret, some of the worlds most famous photographers make a living off such photos. Think of creative ways to use the “deficiencies” of your mobile camera to make interesting photographs.

Photos in low light are bound to be grainy if taken with any small sensor camera. In my opinion, the Z10 does just as well in low light as any of the other smart phones I’ve used. Blackberry elected to have a not so heavy handed go at the jpg files so they do look a little grainier than some. That being said, they also retain more detail as well. Grain looks a lot better on a photo than digital mud.

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4. Use a proper image editor.

We all have computers. It is fun to process photos on your phone, but I’ve never (including countless iPhone apps I’ve been asked to talk about and review) used one that works as well as the most basic (even online) photo editing software. They aren’t expensive and are often free. All you need is something to adjust levels of contrast, light, tonality, shadow, etc. It takes me less than a minute to process of photo on my computer and often more time on my phone.

Remember, filters apps like Instagram may help shit photos look interesting to the three people that care on Facebook but in the end, you’re only fooling yourself. An interesting photograph is so without gimmick. You’ll be happier in the end with the results!

5. Have fun!

For me, the Z10 has been a blast to shoot with. I really enjoy the drag to focus and simple camera interface. It’s possibly the simplest and most intuitive I’ve seen. You’ll always take better photos if you enjoy taking them!

I’ve also attached a couple of random photos you can use to supplement my write up if you’d like. It’s up to you.

I’m taking the Z10 out again this weekend to do a Portrait set of some faces in Toronto. Should be interesting as well considering it’s more equitable to every day use.

4 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Great tips JT!

    What do you mean by metering properly? Is that adjusted for by moving the focus box to the right location in the shot? Ie. Not the brightest point of light? Or is there another way?

  2. my only concern with the spot metering is this, and correct me if i’m wrong.

    if i drag the focus to where i want the camera to meter, but i dont want that spot to be what’s on focus, what then?

    maybe i want the shot to be metered for something on the left side of the image but i want something on the right side of the image to be what’s in focus.

    can we do that?

  3. Hi Guys,

    As Ray has said, metering with the Z10 is spot metering and the camera will always meter to the spot you are focused on. While this would be a huge deal for a DSLR, it isn’t as much with the Z10. Small sensor cameras means there is a very deep depth of field even at lower apertures. That is to say, it’s hard to make anything out of focus unless you are very close to it. For example, if you are taking a photograph in a very dark room, if you focus on a point just behind your subject where the light it weaker the camera will meter properly. For my style of photography, I’m usually at least a meter from my subject so this rarely matters much for me.

    That being said, it is a limitation as if you mean to be very close to your subject it will be tough to have the background also be light. Although, I’m not entirely sure why you’d ever want this to be the case.

    Feel free to email me if you have any questions as I’d be more than happy to help!

    JT

  4. great, thanks for the feedback JT, and nice shots you have

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