Turn on night mode
This option existed before, but never brought tangible results. A significant shift in this area was shown by the Google Pixel 3 and 3XL smartphones – below you can see the shots taken on them in HDR + mode and in night mode.
The camera takes several pictures in night mode and then combines them to reduce noise and get the best result.
Huawei has a similar quality night mode, but only on the flagship Huawei P30 and P30 Pro. It’s worth trying this feature on all relatively new smartphones, but if you bought your device a long time ago, pay attention to the following tips.
Achieve greater photosensitivity
To get a bright image in low light, you need to increase the photosensitivity of the photomatrix. When shooting in automatic mode, the camera on the smartphone does it on its own.
However, an increase in photosensitivity also leads to noise, loss of detail and color blur. In other words, the photos are really bright and clear, but in most cases not very high quality.
If the smartphone does not allow you to adjust the sensitivity, you can download special applications for this: Camera FV-5 Lite (for Android) or Pro Camera (Apple). But, unlike the iPhone, most Android smartphones still offer manual configuration.
Get more light
To maintain low sensitivity of the photomatrix (and, accordingly, reduce noise in the image), more light is required. This will sound obvious, but its additional sources will help here, for example, the LED flash built into the smartphone. In many modern models, there are even several LEDs for adjusting the flash depending on the available lighting.
However, built-in LEDs also have their drawbacks. A flash in the immediate vicinity of the camera eliminates all shadows, making the subject appear flat. For this reason, the built-in flash should only be used if absolutely necessary.
There are usually other ways to get more light. If you are photographing a moving subject, wait until it approaches a more illuminated area. Taking a portrait, go to the nearest street lamp or to a brighter place in the bar. Make sure that the light does not fall on a person strictly from above, otherwise ugly shadows will remain on the face.
Use long exposure
Increasing the exposure time allows the photomatrix to “see” the object longer and collect more photons. Thanks to this, not only brighter colors are obtained, but also moving objects are blurred. In the worst case, the picture will be completely blurred, but you can get an artistic effect, for example, turning cars passing by into long streaks of light. The picture below shows a shutter speed of 1/20 second. You can put more at night.
To increase the exposure time, you will need a manual mode, which is often referred to as “professional”. The option is called shutter speed, shutter speed or indicated by the letter S. Most smartphones automatically take pictures with a maximum speed of 1/10 second – a slower shutter speed will require you to hold your hand still, otherwise the pictures will be blurry.
Trams and cars passing by, as well as fireworks in the sky, will turn into beautiful lines in two to eight seconds. To photograph the lunar landscape, you may need a 30-second shutter speed, which is the maximum in many telephone cameras. If at a slower shutter speed the images are too bright, you need to make sure that the level of photosensitivity is “auto” or lower. If this does not help, reduce the exposure time.
In the photo below, the Mate 9 smartphone is simply leaning against an office window wet from snow. For such shots, the Huawei camera offers the “bright image” option, which opens the shutter for the time the user needs, in this case for about 65 seconds.
For long exposure, it is imperative that the smartphone does not move during shooting. It can be fixed on any surface or use special accessories.
Pick up accessories
The most relevant addition for night shooting is a tripod. Smartphones are lighter and more compact than professional cameras, the same can be said about tripods for them. For example, a small Gorillapod will cost less than $ 15, and in a set with a universal adapter for a smartphone – $ 20. Both devices fit in your pocket, and their preparation for use takes no more than a few seconds.
Some smartphones, for example, the old Sony Xperia, Razer Phone and Razer Phone 2 models, can stand on the side panel without additional support, without requiring additional accessories for shooting in the dark.