How to take good pictures in lobscurit

How to take good pictures in lobscurit

Why lobscurit is a problem

To begin, I would like to give you an idea of ​​the physical and technical reasons that make it so difficult to take a good picture in the dark. As we have already mentioned in the introduction, size is the main problem. The light-sensitive part of most smartphone lenses measures 15 32mm2. By way of comparison, the large lenses of the cameras in our edition measure about 860mm2, that is 30 times the size of a smartphone lens!

If the lenses of smartphone cameras can capture enough light during the day, they simply do not get enough photons overnight. However, there are a number of techniques for taking a clear picture in low light conditions, although each of these methods has its advantages and disadvantages.

night photography sizes
The blue and red parts illustrate the difference in size between a professional camera lens and the biggest lens you can find on a smartphone. AndroidPIT

Greater sensitivity

Whether you have adjusted the ISO value or not, you must have realized: to take a bright picture while it is dark, it is possible to simply increase the sensitivity of the sensor light. Camera applications do this automatically when shooting at night.

However, increased ISO sensitivity also results in more read errors, which are manifested by image noise, loss of detail and dull colors, among others. The images will be bright and rather precise, but not very visible most of the time.

night photography iso
Greater ISO sensitivity produces a clearer image and higher shutter speed at the same time. The quality of the image will, however, be more and more affected beyond ISO 400.

If your smartphone does not let you manually adjust the ISO sensitivity, there are many applications for it. Camera FV-5 Lite (Android) or Pro Camera (Apple), to name a few, offer many settings. But if this is not the case for iPhones, most of the photo apps on Android phones offer many manual settings.

More light

More light is needed to maintain the sensitivity of the sensor, and thus limit the noise on the image. As silly as it may seem, just add some light to the subject. The integrated LED flash on the smartphone is always available. Most modern smartphones are even dots of multiple LEDs to adjust the flash color of the ambient light. It is effective to limit the impact of the flash on colors, and gives harmonious images.

However, LEDs built into smartphones also have their drawbacks. The flash eliminates all the shadows from the point of view of the lens, often giving subjects in two dimensions and almost flat. This is why the flash should only be used in an emergency.

In most cases, there are other solutions to bring more light. If you take a photo of a moving subject, then its location will change. When taking a portrait, take a few steps to the nearest light source (a streetlight or a clearer part of the bar). These steps will ensure that the light does not come too far, which would cause deforming shadows on the faces.

Longer exposure time

If you can not add more light about it then you need to give your smartphone more time. A longer exposure time allows you to see the subject longer and capture more photons. Extending the exposure time makes the photos brighter, but also has side effects: anything that moves will be rendered fuzzy. In the worst case, this gives blurry photos, and can even completely distort images (such as moving cars changing into long streaks of light in photos).

night photography shutter
Many smartphone cameras today offer a pro mode with manual options. The shutter speed is here set to 1 / 20th of a second (with the possibility to increase it for night shots). AndroidPIT

In order to increase the exposure time, you must use the manual mode of your camera, often called pro mode or similar. The option in question is called shutter speed, exposure time or is sometimes simply indicated by an S. Most smartphones take pictures with a maximum exposure time of 1 / 10th of a second in automatic mode (longer exposure times are difficult to support without using a tripod).

The passing trams and car and the fireworks in the sky turn into beautiful light strokes with 2 8 seconds of exposure. In order to take an illuminated landscape by the moon, you can even use a 30 second exposure time, the maximum in most camera applications.

night photography exposure
In this photo, the
Mate 9 is simply leaning against a snowy window in the office. For such photos, Huawei's camera app offers a light painting option, which opens the shutter as long as the user wants it (in this case, about 65 seconds). AndroidPIT

Of course, for such long exposure times, it is crucial that the smartphone does not move at all during the photo. For this, you can support your smartphone somewhere or use an accessory, which brings us the following.


Those who like nocturnal photography and regularly take pictures in these conditions should probably consider buying a tripod. Since smartphones are lightweight and compact compared to conventional cameras, so is the tripod. For example, you can buy a small Gorillapod for less than 15 euros. There is also a universal tripod for smartphone less than 10 euros. Both items fit comfortably in your jacket pocket and it only takes a few seconds to install them.

night photography gorilla
While the LG G6 needs an accessory for long exposure times, the Xperia XZ Premium keeps itself on its smooth surface. AndroidPIT

Sony also has a bonus point: most smartphones from the Japanese manufacturer have a flat bottom, which can easily conspire on smooth surfaces for long exposure times.


There are more useful accessories to take beautiful pictures, even in bad light conditions. As is often the case in photography, the best advice is: take your time to try different methods. Familiarize yourself with the settings of your camera app. And, above all, take a lot of photos, because only practice (and not just reading articles like this one) will make you a better photographer.

How are you doing to take good pictures at night?

. (tagsToTranslate) take pictures at night (t) smartphone low light (t) low light photos