How to take pictures in low light

It is very difficult to take a good picture on a smartphone. Especially if you take pictures at night or in low light. Most often, such attempts end in failure and disappointment.

Photos are either too dark or too bright, or have some other flaws. One of the main problems is that in low light, smartphone cameras have an unhealthy tendency to increase shutter speed for better exposure. All this leads to image blur, the so-called motion blur.

But do not rush to give up! Next, we will share several ways and tricks that will help you make high-quality photos even in low light.


Turn on night mode

Depending on the model and manufacturer of the smartphone, this mode may have different names. For some it’s just “Night,” for others it’s “Night Shooting . " For example, OnePlus smartphones support the special Nightscape feature, which enables HDR when shooting in low light.

If your phone has this mode (you can check its presence through the camera settings), then be sure to use it. In general, it works similarly to HDR, takes several pictures with different exposure levels, and then combines and extracts some details from them to create a better final image.

Use artificial light

You must be able to use the flash, position it and configure it correctly. If this is not done, then it will only spoil the photos - create glare and reduce detail in the shadow. Nevertheless, there is a flash on almost all smartphones, which means that this is the easiest way to illuminate the picture. If you need to take a photo at night or in low light, try turning it on.

But there are other ways to highlight an object. For example, buy an external artificial light source. It is best to use a portable LED panel for this. As a rule, they are inexpensive, but at the same time they greatly increase the final quality of the image. Pay attention to the Meike S150, which has 150 LEDs with adjustable brightness, an internal battery, a power indicator and a special mount for the phone.

Artificial light gives you great freedom when shooting. External flash units usually come with diffusers that soften the light. Therefore, they can achieve different results, depending on the purpose of the shooting.

Manual settings

Under normal conditions, the automatic mode measures exposure quite well, but in low light it does not show itself as well. The camera just does not understand what exactly you want to photograph, so it starts to jump from one object to another. The best way to improve image quality is to simply set all the settings manually.

Typically, in manual mode, you can adjust ISO (photosensitivity), aperture, and shutter speed. This is the so-called exposure triangle. Now we will not describe it in detail, because you can read about it in other articles.

All that needs to be done in manual mode is to allow the camera to correctly expose the image. To do this, you can increase the ISO or shooting speed. Therefore, the most difficult thing is to find the perfect balance here, because changing any parameter has both pros and cons. For example, raising the ISO can cause the so-called digital noise, and changing other parameters can cause motion blur.

The shutter speed should be increased exactly as much as the subject itself allows. If you photograph something still, a few seconds will be enough. The main thing is to make sure that at this moment the smartphone is stationary. Ideally, it is worth using a tripod or using improvised means (for example, lean the smartphone on some surface). If you are photographing a moving subject, the ISO will have to be increased. In this case, completely get rid of the noise will not work.

Almost all smartphones have a constant aperture of the lens. But there are exceptions. For example, some flagships from Samsung and Oppo . Therefore, in low light it’s enough to set the widest aperture possible. The lower the F value, the wider the aperture (the larger the aperture of the camera lens and the more light passes through it). That is, F / 1.8 is better than F / 2.8 and in low light it is worth setting F / 1.8.

If possible, take pictures in RAW format

RAW is a digital image file format that contains uncompressed and unedited data. For this reason, it has a much higher weight compared to the usual JPG, JPEG and PNG. In recent years, an increasing number of devices offer access to RAW files. And it concerns not only digital cameras, but also smartphones.

If you have the opportunity to save pictures in RAW format, then use it. As a rule, such photographs are distinguished by better detail and are of higher quality. In addition, changing parameters such as white balance and color can be much more effective.

Edit your finished photos

It’s not enough just to take a photo, it is advisable to edit the resulting image. Especially if the image was taken on a smartphone, and even in low light. This can be done using different software, both on a computer and on a smartphone.

All programs have different features. Therefore, some single instruction simply does not exist. But we can recommend you certain points that you should pay attention to when editing an image.

Be sure to keep an eye on the settings that control exposure, white balance, and brightness. For example, a Snapseed application has all of these options in the “Image Settings” section. Almost everywhere they change with the help of sliders, which means you can immediately observe the result and set all the values ​​to your taste. If you wish, you can increase the brightness, make shadows and highlights more expressive.

Most cameras incorrectly set the white balance when shooting in low light conditions. Therefore, be sure to follow these parameters.

Most often, to brighten the image, just increase the ISO value. But in this case, excess digital noise appears. In addition, after editing, the final image quality may also drop, especially if you are working with JPEG files. Most applications can soften the image and thus reduce noise. As a rule, “Noise Reduction” filters or others with the same name are used for this.