SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY: The Best Photos + Settings & Useful Tips!

In BLOG, PHOTOGRAPHY by Clelia Mattana15 Comments


Who said that a mobile phone can’t take pictures comparable to a DSLR is truly mistaken! Below are my favorite pictures taken using my Zenfone  Deluxe and Zenfone Ultra during my trips around the world. I had already published another article on how to take great pictures using you mobile phone, and a blog post on my favorite shots of Sardinia on Instagram

Check them out for more inspiration and learn how to take some great shot with your smartphone, not just snapshots and selfies!

Here are my Two babies 😉

People also ask me which mobiles I’ve been using all the time so I thought I give a brief description of the two I’m currently using and what I like about them.

Asus 3 Deluxe

Both mobiles have great cameras for people passionate about photography, the colors and resolution of the pictures are great and the manual setting help A LOT in taking shots that sometimes have nothing to envy to a DSLR camera.

Asus 3 Ultra

Compared to the Deluxe, the Ultra has a bigger screen, very useful if you are combining it with a mini tripod, you can see even the smallest details and the colors and sharpness are out of this world! Truly Impressive.

My Favorite Shots 

I will use some shots directly from my Instagram account: By the way, feel free to stalk me if you are still not doing it! Just be patient and wait for a couple of seconds as it takes a bit for the pictures to upload in here. For each photo, I will briefly explain why I have included it amongst my favorite ones and, when applicable, what kind of settings I used to obtain a certain effect.

Photos were taken using the Zenfone 3 manual settings

Tour Eiffel Shot

The light here was super bright, being shot in the direction of the sun so I adjusted the mobile manual settings to:

  • Iso: 50 (the lowest)
  • Manual Focus: panorama setting
  • Shutter speed: 1/1000 (super quick)
  • White Balance: 7000K (warm)

Pond Shot

Being a sunset shot, the luminosity was starting to get low very quickly so I adjusted the mobile manual settings to:

  • Iso: 400 (not too high to avoid the noise)
  • Manual Focus: panorama setting
  • Shutter speed: 1/10 (for a brighter image + tripod)
  • White Balance: 8000K (very warm)

More Photos I Love!

Probably among my top 3 favorite photos ever, including the ones taken with the DSLR.

To me this pic is amazing. For this shot I used the Deluxe in manual settings with the focus to “macro”, to blur the background, creating a more dramatic effect. I also calibrated other settings to get the best quality photo. The only edit I did to this shot was done with Lightroom where I desaturated everything but the bubble.

Settings Used:

  • Iso: 50 (the minimum)
  • Manual Focus: “Macro” Setting
  • Shutter speed: 1/350 (quite fast)
  • White Balance: 5500K (neutral)
  • Camera Resolution: 13M (4160 x 3120 px)
  • Detail Enhancement: +3
  • Sharpness: +3

The Zenfone 3 smartphones have incredible bright colors

Straight from the camera, no edits!

Settings Used:

  • Iso: 50 (the minimum)
  • Manual Focus: “Panorama” Setting
  • Shutter speed: 1/350 (quite fast)
  • White Balance: 4800K (cold)
  • Camera Resolution: 13M
  • Detail Enhancement: +3
  • Sharpness: +1

Definitely my N.1 Shot with Zenfone Ultra

Sunrise in low light condition using manual settings and the Mini Manfrotto Tripod.

Settings Used:

  • Iso: 100
  • Manual Focus: “Panorama”
  • Shutter speed: 1.2 seconds
  • White Balance: 6500K (warm)
  • Saturation: +1
  • Contrast: -1

Milky Way Pics with The Zenfone3 Deluxe! 

This might come as a massive surprise but without any external app, you can indeed take good shots of the Milky Way with the Zenfone Deluxe! 

I gave it a try while in Bacalar- Mexico- and all in all the result was not bad, but unfortunately, I couldn’t get a proper Milky Way shot in there because of the humidity and the light pollution from the nearby town. But! Another blogger took some great shots and even put a youtube video on the setting he used to shoot the milky way with the Zenfone 3 Deluxe. When I will be in more optimal conditions, I will add mine too!

Another blogger took some great shots and even uploaded a video on Youtube showing the setting he used to shoot the Milky Way with the Zenfone 3 Deluxe. When I will be in more optimal conditions, I will add mine too!

By the way, if you need it there is a super smart function the bg remover to eliminate the background, check it out!

The following text in an extract from a very interesting and detailed article by a photographer and blogger who tested the funcyions of the Zenfone 3 Deluxe to shoot the Milky way, to read the whole post and see more Milky Way photos, click on the button below.

“One of the headline features of the Asus Zenfone 3’s camera is its built-in manual mode that allows you to go all the way to ISO 3200 and do long exposures of up to 32 seconds. 

And there it was: my first Milky Way photo shot on a mobile phone! For me, this was a bit of a turning point, because a lot of people who ask me for photography advice on social media are discouraged about not being able to afford the gear to shoot the Milky Way.

With my own setup costing well over $3,000, I couldn’t quite dispute that, but now that I’ve proven to myself that a smartphone can do it, that conversation changes”.

Mobile Milky Way Photo


Picture of the Milky Way taken by Aaron Palabyab in great weather conditions in the Philippines. Photo Info: Naidi Lighthouse and the Milky Way. Shot on the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, 32s at ISO 3200, f/2.0. Edited in Adobe Lightroom CC.

Night Shot Mobile Photo


My first attempt using my smartphone but not in optimal weather conditions. Photo Info: Bacalar pier by night. Shot on the Asus Zenfone 3 Deluxe, 15s at ISO 3200, f/2.0. Edited (with very limited skills with Adobe Lightroom)

Have you ever tried experimenting with your smartphone? Any additional tip you want to share or you have a question? Leave me a comment below!





Clelia is an enthusiastic Italian traveler born in the beautiful Island of Sardinia. She quit her job at Burberry London in 2012 to realize her dream to become a digital nomad. Counting the number of countries visited? No thanks! She believes that travel involves memories and emotions more than a list of places.

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  1. This was so useful and truly assisted with my photograph taking. Presently I need to hone more with the manual capacities, incredible article!

  2. There are types of cellphones that gives you the perfect shot you need…you just have to know the ideal features and how to play with the effects…

    1. Author

      Yes, mobile technology for photography is now great, it’s people who are lazy to learn the tricks 😉

  3. Wow, I honestly didn’t know that Asus Zenfones actually had good cameras. I might consider buying one just to use when i’m traveling. Thanks for the awesome advice! 🙂

    1. Author

      Oh yes, especially the Zenfone Zoom takes awesome pics in my opinion. I tried different models and my top choices are the zoom and the Delux. Sometimes I forced myself to go out exploring without my super expensive DSLR and only use my mobile and I got some great shots! You should try and see how it goes!

  4. Great ideas to take shots with a smartphone, very useful and love all your pictures, fantastic photos (love the Paris one in particular)! I will follow your advice for sure.


    1. Author

      Thanks! I love the Paris shot too! I have another one also taken in Paris that I truly love and it’s among my favorites <3

  5. This was so helpful and really helped with my photo taking. Now I have to practice more with the manual functions, great article!

    1. Author

      Thanks Amy! yes the manual functions are the best way to take great shots like you would do with a DSLR camera!

  6. wow, creating the best shot through a smartphone is amazing. Though it’s possible, still amazing. Thanks for the information.

    1. Author

      I know, right? I was super surprised I could produce a few great shots (I even printed one!) 🙂

    2. Now mostly photography is taken by phones. smartphones also have a high-quality camera they can take pictures of great quality.

      1. Author

        Indeed, you are right! Some people don’t even believe I took these picture with my mobile phone! Still have it and going great!

  7. Searching for ways to learn how to make better shots with a SmartPhone was on my to-do-list today and you helped! Thank you.


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