Features

How to use your smartphone camera’s Pro Mode

Taking your photography skills to the next level

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I wasn’t blessed with a powerful camera to take high-quality pictures of people and places. It’s not just because standalone cameras are expensive, but also because some of them are pretty bulky. If I’m going out of town with my friends while packing light, the next best thing I have is a smartphone.

Within the past two years, there have been a long list of Android smartphones that sport at least two rear cameras that allow you to maximize the quality of your photos. One key feature that they possess is Pro Mode, complete with adjustable settings to achieve that quality and depth. I’m going to show you how you can use Pro Mode to take your photography game to the next level.

1. Understand the interface

You can access Pro Mode by opening your phone’s default Camera app and going through the list of modes available. Once you have selected Pro Mode, you will be greeted by a screen with several adjustable settings.

The different settings on the interface include: metering mode, ISO, shutter speed, exposure levels, white balance, and focus. Adjusting these settings is crucial if you want to take photos of any scene, day or night. Another feature on the interface is the horizontal level meter that helps you take steadier images — for people with shaky hands like mine.

In Pro Mode, you have the option to save your images in RAW files for post processing through photo-editing apps like Adobe Lightroom. You can also choose to disable this feature through the camera’s settings while in Pro Mode to save space.

2. Start with your metering

After you have understood how the interface works, it’s time to dive deeper into preparing the photo you want to take. The first setting you should pay attention to is the metering of the image. Metering ultimately determines how your picture will look given the amount of light that the camera detects.

If you want to take a picture of a whole scene, stick with the default Matrix Metering setting. Matrix Metering allows your camera to use the whole scene, and collects data on the highlights and shadows in them. It uses this data to determine how much light is emphasized on the image. Matrix Metering typically works in any scene.

But, let’s say you want to narrow down your subject when you take pictures. There are two other metering modes for you to choose from. One mode is Center Metering, which puts greater focus on the subject as long as it’s in the center of the frame. Another is Spot Metering, which allows you to focus on any specific object within the frame.

3. Adjust all other settings accordingly

Once you have your metering mode set, you can now proceed to tweaking all the other settings to suit your needs. Keep in mind that whatever metering you choose, all these settings are set to Auto, and will display values depending on the environment.

Here are things to keep in mind when adjusting these settings:

If you want brighter images, especially when taking them in the dark, increase your ISO setting. Broad daylight shots, meanwhile often require low ISO values because of natural sunlight. If you want to capture fast moving objects properly, adjust your shutter setting to how fast (freeze motion) or slow (motion blur) you want it.

If you still think that certain parts of the image should stand out (like the beach in the background), adjust the exposure value (EV) to offset the brightness (positive EV) or darkness (negative EV) of the image. Depending also on the environment, it is also good to consider changing the white balance settings for a warmer or cooler tone.

For the focus settings, you can use the default One Shot Autofocus for quick still photos of objects. If you want to take photos of moving objects, it’s best to use the Continuous Autofocus setting. Of course, there is a Manual Focus option if you want to take full control of the camera’s focus points.

Once you have all that down, go ahead and take your wonderful photo! For comparison, take the same photo with Pro Mode turned off and see what you get there.

Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy M20 hands-on: Give the users what they want

Awakening of the sleeping giant

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Samsung has been the smartphone market leader for half a decade now, and its flagship phones continue to be an inspiration for everyone. However, while the brand is dominating in developed markets, it has taken a massive beating in the developing ones.

Thanks to players like Xiaomi, the South Korean brand has consistently lost market share in countries like India. Samsung slowly prepared itself to change strategy by the end of last year and intends to go hard in 2019. It announced the new Galaxy M-series lineup of phones in the budget segment and the M10 and M20 are the first ones to roll off the shelf.

The M20 has been launched in India for INR 10,990 (US$ 154) and comes with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage. The option with 4GB RAM and 64GB internal storage costs INR 12,990 (US$ 182). The phone goes up against the Redmi 6 Pro, Realme U1, and even the Mi A2.

To start with, Samsung has opted to go with a basic design, consisting of a plastic body that is curved at the edges and is pretty glossy. The phone is extremely comfortable to hold, and the build quality is top-notch. Even the buttons are very tactile and bezels are smaller.

On the front is a 6.3-inch TFT display with a Full HD resolution and small water-drop style notch on the top. This is the first Samsung phone to feature a notch, and the display quality is surprisingly good. The color production is vivid and satisfying, while the viewing angles are perfect. It is easily visible even under direct sunlight.

For authentication, a fingerprint scanner is located on the rear and it is fast enough. You also have the option of face unlock and it works quickly in well-lit conditions. It has dual-SIM support and there’s a separate slot for microSD card, as well.

Powering the phone is an octa-core Exynos 7904 processor, which is considered to be on par with the Snapdragon 636. It is a very power-efficient processor with more emphasis on the cameras. Day-to-day tasks are handled smoothly and games like PUBG are playable with low graphics.

It has a dual-camera setup on the rear, consisting of a 13-megapixel primary shooter and a 5-megapixel wide-angle sensor. The pictures clicked during daytime are decently saturated but lack sharpness. Even focus tends to get slow in low-light conditions. The wide-angle lens works best in bright surroundings only and is a very handy tool. For selfies, it has an 8-megapixel shooter with built-in beauty enhancements.

It ships with Samsung Experience 9.5 out of the box and is actually well optimized. There is barely any lag and the UI offers a plethora of customizations and features. The company announced that the Android Pie update will be landing soon. Lastly, it has a massive 5000mAh battery that’ll get you through two days of usage.

Xiaomi has been successful because it offers users a balanced product that suits everyone’s needs. With the M20, Samsung goes down the same road. While the recently announced A-series phones were for photography enthusiasts, the M20 is good enough for everything.

The M20 is no disruptor, but an indication that Samsung is gearing up. And as a generation-one product, it’s performing fairly well.

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Cameras

Fujifilm Instax SQ20 hands-on: How good is it?

Trying out the new Motion Mode on doggies!

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Fujifilm’s sequel to their first ever digital/analog hybrid is here and it’s looking better than ever. The Instax SQ20 is one classy-looking instant camera but what can it do? With a set of built-in filters and new features like the Motion Mode, it looks like a promising device.

I finally try it out, with help from some doggies, on our hands-on video.

The SQ20 retails for US$ 199 in the US, PhP 12,999 in the Philippines, and SG$ 299 in Singapore.

In case you’re having trouble viewing, watch HERE.

READ ALSO: Fujifilm Instax SQ10 review

READ ALSO: Prynt Pocket unboxing and review: A printer that prints videos?

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Features

DALLA DALLA, Crazy Rich Asians: Now Playing

A Valentine’s special!

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While we wait for the Galaxy S10 to launch and MWC 2019 to start, let’s take a moment to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

If you don’t have a date, don’t be grumpy. Sometimes, all you need is self-love and entertainment to keep you going. Have some fun alone time and enjoy what’s now playing at GadgetMatch!

Movies to see

Dragon Ball Super: Broly
Marvin: If you’re single and unhappy about it this month, catching a late showing of Dragon Ball Super: Broly may be the best way to release stress in the theater. It’s by far the best Dragon Ball movie yet with tireless action and gorgeous visuals, plus it’s surprisingly friendly to both old fans and those new to the franchise.

Crazy Rich Asians
MJ: Crazy Rich Asians is a film for those who are ready to take it to the next level. It’s about standing up to people who get in the way of your happiness, and choosing what’s best for the person you love. It’s a dash of romance with a sprinkle of comedy to keep you from crying in heart-wrenching scenes.

TV shows to binge watch

Kakegurui
Rodneil: The anime follows a transfer student who seemed sweet and normal at first, but has an insatiable thirst for gambling. It’s a relatively easy watch and you can follow along even if you’re doing something else.

Games to play

Kingdom Hearts III
Rodneil: There’s too much backstory heading into this game that it can get super confusing, especially if this is your first game in the franchise. The story is clunky at best but the game is a visual spectacle. Push the narrative to the side and just play it for the fireworks.

Resident Evil 2
Marvin: I was too afraid to finish Resident Evil 2 on my own as a kid, so I’m glad it’s been remade for my braver adult self. In line with Valentine’s Day, I’d say it’s a perfect game to play with a partner so that you have someone to hold your hand during the most intense zombie sightings. 💕

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kahit Ayaw Mo Na by This Band
Rodneil: Only caught wind of this song recently and I haven’t been able to stop listening since. It talks about someone wanting to work it out with her/his partner. However, the partner seems unwilling. The music invites multiple listens and the way the words flow is ear-candy.

Shine by Pentagon
Rodneil: My obsession with girl group Twice has served as a gateway to other K-Pop tracks, and this is one of them. It’s simply an absolutely fun song to listen to. A great pick-me-up to get you started in the morning.

Can’t Help Falling In Love by Kina Grannis
MJ: Kina Grannis’ strings and acoustic guitar rendition of Elvis Presley’s classic love song makes you remember how love is a force you can’t resist. The emotion you’ll feel in this song is overwhelming — ranging from the bliss of being in love to confusion and even heartbreak.

DALLA DALLA by ITZY
Vincenz: The song’s unique and dynamic blend of sounds, from a hip-hop centric intro and bridge up to a contrasting, bright chorus, makes it a great and catchy debut song (their visuals are exceptional, too). Message of the song? It’s all about empowerment and self-love!

Gokigen Sayonara (A Happy Goodbye) by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song caught my ears with its catchy tune and lyrics, which doesn’t usually happen since most J-Pop releases sound so different. Its lively, electro-pop vibe opposes the song’s message about bidding farewell to someone you truly love, but it works.

Cities/Places to visit

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Boracay
Marvin: Now cleaner and more beautiful than ever, Boracay’s beach is the perfect weekend getaway once again. A lot of activities and shops are still unavailable, but if you simply want to soak in the sun and sea breeze, it would be a great time to go once the tourists leave post-Valentine’s.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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