Cell Phone Cameras and Photography

phModern technology has incorporated a lot of conveniences for us now that we are an “on-the-go” society who always has a cell phone in our hands no matter where we go. As a result, someone thought it would be great to add a camera to our cell phone devices so that we would never really need a camera. However, from a photographer’s point of view this was a huge mistake. It is also why we never ever recommend using a cell phone camera for paranormal investigations. To understand this better, let’s take a look at what really makes a camera.

Optical Zoom
Optical zoom allows you to literally zoom in or out on a subject allowing you to get a truly closer view of the subject before snapping your picture. This is something cell phone cameras just cannot do with a fixed lens outside of the device. Sure you can put your fingers on the screen and “zoom” in for your picture but what you are actually doing is utilizing software built into the cell phone to enlarge the area, not zoom in on it. As a result we get blurry pictures and a lot of pixilation. And we all know what pixilation leads to – pareidolia.

Some folks like to think that the megapixel size of a camera is what matters to take good quality pictures. Wrong! It’s the camera image sensor that determines this. It is the size of the sensor that determines how much light it uses to create an image. These sensors consist of millions of light-sensitive spots called photosites that are used to record information about what is seen through the lens. A larger sensor can gain more information than a smaller one. Of course a camera will have a much larger sensor than your cell phone camera just given the size of the device.

Interchangeable Lens
Let’s face it folks, your cell phone camera only has one, small, flat lens from which to take pictures whereas your cameras have several lenses available to take better pictures. Any app downloaded to your phone is just more software added to your device that is still utilizing the same small lens but manipulating the image instead of actually capturing it which affects the picture quality.

Shutter Speed
Shutter speed is the time the camera’s shutter is open for to capture an image. Fast action pictures or motion pictures require a fast shutter speed and you’re just not going to get that with a cell phone device. If you’re looking to capture a spirit or apparition that appears then disappears quickly, it’s not going to happen with a cell phone camera because the shutter speed just simply is not fast enough. That’s not to say you’re going to automatically catch something with a fast speed camera but chances are your pictures won’t be blurry or pixelated, they will be clear and concise of the area you are photographing. The cell phone camera’s shutter speed is just too slow and will cause blurry pictures and a lot of motion blur as a result.

Shooting Modes and Manual Adjustments
You just can’t control a cell phone camera the way you can a real camera when it comes to taking great quality pictures. Cameras have the additional features built into them that allow you control white balance, autofocus, light, etc.

As you can see, there are some pretty major differences in your cameras versus your cell phone camera. At the end of the day, put away your cell phone and pick up your digital camera for picture taking on paranormal investigations. The quality of a cell phone picture is just not acceptable to be considered as any type of paranormal evidence.

Please visit the NPS Photography Department online for more articles regarding photography to further educate yourself on tips, techniques and information.

Sheri Collins

Sheri Collins

Assistant Executive Director Department Chair Investigation & Research Education Resource Photography & NPS Photography Team at NPS of Texas
Sheri has always had an interest in the paranormal – from watching different paranormal shows over the years to having déjà-vu experiences throughout all her life that she has tried to put an explanation to. When her dad passed away in March 2010she began her journey into the paranormal. She has had several encounters over the years since starting in the field & takes more of an “old school” approach to her research in the paranormal. She is a supporter of today’s modern technology being used on investigations & encourages the use of various tools on investigations. She is always looking for a new ‘old school’ method to try on investigations & employs the use of trigger objects in an effort to get a response. She became fascinated with the pendulum after using a set of original jailer’s keys as a trigger object on an investigation at a local historic jail & they began to sway in response to questions.She is a huge proponent of education in the paranormal field choosing to debunk things immediately by trying to recreate situations & experiment to find logical answers to things that have happened or been captured in photographs or on video in an effort to prove or disprove paranormal activity. She & her team focus on private residential cases as well as educating the public on paranormal investigation & research. You will often find them assisting & consulting with other teams on theircases. Sheri is a certified paralegal and Notary Public for the State of Texas. Her professional background includes working in the legal field, sports marketing, event coordination & business management. She serves as Assistant Executive Director of NPS and the Department Chair overseeing Photography and the NPS Photography Team. Sheri leads the Investigation & Research Education Resources for NPS which provides information, links, & articles surrounding education in the paranormal field. She also writes articles periodically for the NPS’ website that are tied to photography & education. She is one of the founders of NPS of Texas, a paranormal research & investigative team based out of Dallas, Texas.
Sheri Collins