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Can gaming phones cut muster as a photographer’s delight


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Gaming phones are great for chewing through the most demanding mobile games. However, cameras are where manufacturers often pinch pennies to keep hardware costs down. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a gaming phone that offers anything beyond “acceptable” when it comes to its photographic abilities. We took the RedMagic 7 and Asus ROG 5 around the city to decide once and for all whether gaming phones can cut muster as a photographer’s delight. Let’s dig in.
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ROG 5 versus RedMagic 7

Does sharpness really matter?

Well, sure it does. The sharper a picture, the clearer it is, which is something to strive for when taking photos. Mobile photography often comes down to the software, as many phones use similar lenses. Many users chase after Google Camera mods to get the best software features on their devices. This is why many mobile shots taken on smartphone cams that offer less than stellar software can contain many of the artifacts we’re used to in the mobile world, like a paintbrush effect and overly aggressive noise cancellation.

Still, most people snap pics with their phones, not as some great art project, but because it’s convenient. Since we’ve taken a boatload of images on a RedMagic 7 and ROG 5, let’s explore whether sharpness really matters in the grand scheme with a few examples.

As you can see, the above images certainly aren’t as sharp as something you’d get from a DLSR or mirrorless camera. Heck, you’d get sharper images with a Samsung, Sony, or Pixel smartphone, more than likely. Since we’re leaning heavily on images with engaging composition, the defects of the middle-of-the-road cameras and their software are a little less noticeable. Sure, you can easily zoom in and find all kinds of issues. Still, for sharing on social media or for showcasing a product on a blog, composition can save the day.

How hard can you lean on composition?

It turns out you can get some incredibly interesting images with the middling cameras contained in gaming phones. So it would appear that leaning heavily on composition can be handy. Turning on the grid options in the camera’s software can be incredibly helpful to line things up quickly as you snap pics around town.

ROG 5 bank and subway

Another handy tip is to take several images, more than you think is necessary, from slightly different angles if you can. This way, you can choose a winner from the group that best represents the composition you were originally aiming for. So even if you didn’t get it right the first, fifth, or seventh time, perhaps your tenth shot will capture the magic, as that’s the one you’ll want to edit.

RedMagic 7 bank and subway

A photo editor can help improve your shots after the fact

Now that we’ve had a chance to look through a few unedited photos from a couple of gaming phones, let’s look at how some light editing can improve things. All it takes is a bit of cropping, centering, color adjustments, and maybe some extra clarity to clean things up.

ROG 5 subway straightened and edited

You can use a combination of apps, for example, Affinity Photo, Paint.net, and Windows stock image handler. The images in this article were edited in one app, Snapseed, since it offers all the options you’ll need to edit photos quickly.

RedMagic 7 bank straightened and edited

Photos can be easily improved with a bit of editing. Not only are the two above pictures now straighter, but they also offer more contrast and more color, with everything centered. A stark difference from the slightly crooked pictures shared above this section. So by taking into account composition at the time of shooting while planning ahead to fix any irregularities, a quick dip into your favorite photo editor can help improve your photos, even when they are taken on middling cameras.

Are gaming phone cameras good enough?

Depending on your needs and your level of scrutiny when sharing or enjoying mobile photography, you can get some great photos with any camera, even the ones built into our gaming phones. Sure, they get a bad rap, and often deservedly so, but that doesn’t mean you can’t easily take and edit shots that will look great on social media or blogs. This post is proof enough of that, but again, this all comes down to how nitpicky you are about your photos.

ROG 5 alley screen straightened and edited

If you’d rather spend your money on new camera gear, you don’t have to pay for storage. You can use the free tier for your photo storage through Google Photos. This means any images you take will ultimately be compressed. So does the original clarity really matter when the image quality of your collection will be shrunk regardless?

RedMagic 7 lot balls straightened and edited

It’s all in the photo editor you choose

All in all, the photos taken with the ROG 5 and RedMagic 7 turned out great, and with a little bit of editing, you’ll be more than happy to show off your creations. Sure, these shots won’t compare to anything taken with a mirrorless camera or a top-of-the-line Android phone, but they don’t have to. All you need is something that looks good at first blush, and just about any camera can deliver that, especially with a photo editor by your side.



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