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When I use a smartphone's flash, I find that it often overpowers the scene, leading to an ugly photo. Is there a way to reduce its power? Unlike a traditional camera, there are no controls like flash exposure compensation, flash modes, using a long exposure to reduce flash power, etc.

I tried placing my finger on the flash, but that completely messed up color balance, making everything look red. And some light leaked out from below the finger, leading to the bottom part of the photo being white and the rest red.

Is there some simple, cheap ($10) adapter I can buy that I can attach on the flash when I want, and remove at other times? I'm thinking of something like a masking tape, but something that can be detached and attached, and doesn't leave a mess on the flash, and is color-neutral.

Is there any other solution to this problem?

I'm using an iPhone 6, but I'd like a solution that works for Android as well.

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    Try a scotch tape. You can try several layers and if cutted carefully nobody will notice it. – Rafael Oct 15 '15 at 4:20
  • Have you looked for photography apps that allow to tweak the flash exposure compensation? – Saaru Lindestøkke Oct 15 '15 at 12:06
  • Rafael, as I wrote, I need to be able to take it on and off as needed. – Vaddadi Kartick Oct 16 '15 at 1:19
  • Now I want a Gary Fong Lightsphere for phones. – user31502 Oct 16 '15 at 1:40
  • Besides, is a scotch tape color-neutral? – Vaddadi Kartick Oct 18 '15 at 2:06
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The other answers are fine, but given that an S-M-R-T phone is primarily a chunk of software with a small amount of electronics and simple optics attached, why not consider a better app that controls the camera functionality?

I cannot think of a phone ecosystem that does not have multiple free and for-pay third-party camera apps, some of which allow you to control the EV and flash.

  • You are suggesting that there is an iOS app that allows modification of the flash output for example? Do you have a solution in mind? – dpollitt Oct 16 '15 at 13:51
  • Well, the OP did not mention a specific handset brand, and I don't know about a specific iOS app, no. However, such apps exist for at least one common platform. Given this: stackoverflow.com/questions/9873747/… it is possible on iOS, at least. – user31502 Oct 16 '15 at 14:00
  • The link you provided explains how to turn the flash off and on, not control brightness or intensity. I don't know that it's possible with iOS that's why I was wondering if you have an example. – dpollitt Oct 16 '15 at 14:02
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    If you can turn the LED on and off, you can cycle through a duty cycle to essentially lower it by some specific +/- value. Anyway, a single search yields this and more: itunes.apple.com/ca/app/manual-camera-custom-exposure/… – user31502 Oct 16 '15 at 14:05
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    Camera+ for iOS does not allow for flash intensity control. Anyways I was more interested if it's even possible on iOS which you have shown it is. Thanks for the additional info! – dpollitt Oct 16 '15 at 14:37
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I don't know about a ready-to-use adapter to buy, but you could do the following DIY:

get some ND foil, I personally recommend buying the LEE sample book for less than $10 off the internet, it looks like this

https://www.google.fr/search?q=lee+filters+sample+book&biw=1389&bih=945&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0CD4QsARqFQoTCKL5y4-zxMgCFYc4GgodAvUHkg

The foil is big enough for all your smartphone usage, including foils with different ND strenghts and foils to color your flash. As a bonus, they are big enough to fit on a standard speedlight, I use them to lessen the output of my 1/1 power vintage flash or to color balance my e/iTTL speedlights.

You could think of a holding mechanism that wraps around your phone that can be slid on and off the phone with the suitable filter attached on a cutout for the flash. Additionally with a cutout for the lens and clear foil on the screen side. If you make it from thin cardboard and plastic see-through foil it will be ultra-portable as well.

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