As smartphones score more and more awesome camera tech, it’s getting easier and easier to snap a great shot. I’ve been shooting with the new Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G for the last couple of weeks, and I’ve already got some tips you can use to make your shots look their best.

The gear

This year’s Galaxy S21 is great for photographers. There are three models available to cater for all your screen-loving needs. And all the devices – from the Galaxy S21 5G through to the Galaxy S21+ 5G, right up to the flagship Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

The top-of-the-range Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is what I have my hands on, and it’s a pretty sweet bit of kit.


Cheers for the hook up, @telstra ! The camera on the @samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G is 🔥 ##Telstra ##Collab ##phone ##video ##sydney ##xgamesmode

♬ original sound – Andrew

Here are some tips to make the most out of it, and the awesome shots I got.

Turn on the grid lines

Turning on grid lines on your phone camera splits the screen into a 3×3 grid perfect for you to use the rule of thirds for your photos!

Try positioning points of interest in your scene on the intersections of the grid which will make your photo more balanced and aesthetically pleasing. The grid can give you a better idea if your subject is actually centred or not.

But, keep in mind rules are meant to be broken, so feel free to experiment outside of the grid to create interesting results.

Use the right camera for the right occasion

Nowadays smartphones have many different cameras which can be utilised for many purposes!

In general, landscapes look more grand when using a wide-angle camera on your phone. On the S21 Ultra 5G, you also get a macro camera so you can capture small details in focus and truly up close.

Portraits look great when using the Telephoto or Zoom lenses and will create some beautiful background blur (or bokeh) from this as well. Additionally zoom cameras will yield some amazing results on distant landscapes, for example mountains!

Take advantage of Pro Mode

If your camera has a pro mode where you can manually adjust settings, this can be very powerful and work to level up your photography skills.

When you’re shooting an awesome set of pics, it’s important to preserve as much detail as possible. For this reason, I shoot in RAW whenever I can. RAW is a file format that keeps more of the photo’s visual information intact when compared to shooting in JPG. That way you can edit the photo later and have far more to work with. This is the power of Pro Mode on the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G.

Pro Mode also allows you to manipulate just about every shooting setting possible for your photo. ISO; exposure; white balance; manual focus pulling, and more.

Additionally, by being able to control the shutter speed, when pairing your phone with a phone tripod you have the power to capture more light from a scene, and even take shots of the Milky Way for amazing astrophotography!

Using pro mode can almost transform your phone to an DSLR-like camera.

Make the most out of Panorama modes

Although people often use panorama modes for horizontal landscapes, try taking a panorama horizontally and then panning up to capture an even wider shot in a portrait orientation, perfect for the ‘gram! If there are tall trees, or if you just want to capture more of the scene this can create some impossible looking shots that you can create so easily on your phone!

Know your zooms

The last tip is just to be understand how you are using zoom on your phone. For example, the Samsung S21 Ultra 5G offers pre-set zoom lengths of 0.6x, 1x, 3x and 10x optical zoom.


A super-handy transition tutorial from the magician @andyescapes , captured on the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G using the upgraded Space Zoom feature

♬ original sound – Telstra

What you need to know is that anything inbetween the zoom lengths (eg. 5x) will all be digitally rather than optically zoomed. What this means is if I take a photo that is zoomed 5x it is actually just zooming in digitally from the 3x camera. This can lead to images that may introduce some digital distortion.

To maximise quality, you simply stick to the default zooms on the camera such as 0.6x, 1x, 3x and 10x as you retain maximum quality of your images. You can zoom in digitally for yourself later!