Tips for taking better low-light pictures with your smartphone

by George Philip
Published: Last Updated on 0 comment

Take night photos with a smartphone. A few years ago it was pointless to try. But times change and development does not stop. That’s why we take a closer look at the night mode of recent phones here and offer some night photography tips.

Not so long ago it was impossible to shoot with a smartphone in low light. Only during the day did a phone make nice pictures. As soon as the light diminished, especially in the dark, it resulted in blurred photos. There was a lot of image noise, pale colours and light sources that turned into ugly overexposed spots.

Fortunately, that time is over. Now you can take the most beautiful night photos with your phone. You just need a smartphone and then one with a special night mode for shooting. Fortunately, we see this feature on more and more phones. You do not have to immediately select the most expensive model.

The cameras in smartphones are getting better and better. This makes it easier to take even more beautiful photos. And you always have that phone with you, so that is a very welcome development. Yet it is not only the improved camera that makes it possible to shoot even in low light. 

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It is mainly the smart software that we increasingly encounter in smartphones. It makes a big difference and is revolutionizing smartphone photography.

Because thanks to this artificial intelligence (also known as AI), your smartphone takes beautiful photos without having to understand cameras. You just point the device at what you want to photograph and all the complicated work is arranged for you.

Use environmental light to your advantage

The big challenge when shooting in low light is not only that it is (of course) quite dark, but also that there is bright lighting at the same time. In a restaurant or café, for example, there are all kinds of dark corners but also places where mood lighting is on. 

The same can be seen in the street in the evening, as soon as the lampposts light up everywhere and the lights are turned on in houses and buildings. 

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It is especially this great contrast between light and dark that (all) cameras have a lot of trouble with.

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Because the lighting should not be overexposed, while at the same time everything that is dark must be clearly visible in the picture. 

Unfortunately, cameras can only do one or the other. That is why it is necessary to take not one, but two or more photos. One on which everything is light and one with dark parts. By merging those images, a photo is created in which the entire environment can be seen clearly and clearly.

Of course, taking single photos and putting them together is a difficult, tedious and time-consuming task to do by hand. 

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Fortunately, that is no longer necessary. Because as soon as the light decreases, you simply activate the night mode of your phone. 

You point your device at something, tap the shutter button (the button with which you take photos) and wait a moment until you see that the photo is ready. Quick and easy. Anyone can do it.

Unique is that when taking a night photo, you sometimes have to keep the device focused on the subject for four or six seconds and you still get a sharp photo. This is due to the image stabilization that is on the phone. This ensures that light vibrations and small movements are smoothed out smoothly.

Activate night mode

How you activate the night mode differs per manufacturer. Often it is a separate camera mode that you switch on when you need it. 

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In that case, you will find the night mode in the bar with camera modes near the shutter button and is then called something like Night, Night scene or Night vision.

You may also need to tap More or an icon first to bring up a screen with additional camera modes. You may have to swipe the screen to see this.

The new iPhone now also has a night mode. You cannot turn this on yourself. Night mode is activated automatically when the phone finds it too dark.

Take pictures in the dark

If you photograph in low light, it is important that you tap the screen so that the camera knows where to focus. Preferably do this in a place where a little light falls. As a result, there is still something to see. 

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In addition, it is wise to take not one but a few photos. If one photo becomes less beautiful due to an unexpected movement, for example, a second or third photo will probably look better.

Furthermore, the smart software analyzes every photo you take, just slightly different. That too can just result in a copy that stands out above the rest in terms of sharpness, lighting or colour reproduction. Shooting in low light is and remains a challenge, which is why smart software is sometimes wrong.

Does the night mode not automatically switch on in low light on a smartphone where you cannot do this manually? Then try tapping a few different spots in the image. For example, first on a light part and then on a darker part, or in a place in between. 

Often the camera suddenly notices that there is little light, with which you still manage to conjure up the night mode. Sometimes you have to outsmart the smart software.

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Night mode iPhone

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You cannot activate night mode on an iPhone. The night service automatically comes into action when necessary. A crescent moon icon with the dark (invisible) portion shaded appears near the physical top of the screen. 

Is the icon yellow? Then the night mode is on and you can shoot in low light. Is it grey? Then the night mode is not active, but you can turn it on by tapping the moon, which then turns yellow.

Your iPhone determines how long it takes to take a photo. Sometimes it takes four seconds, then two or six seconds. This depends on the lighting conditions. If you tap the yellow icon, a slider appears near the shutter button with which you can set the time yourself. 

The maximum time also depends on the lighting conditions. You can also switch off the night mode temporarily by choosing Off at the bottom of the slider bar. Handy if you prefer not to use it once.

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Expose for longer Period

Unique is that you can take night photos with your smartphone, while a tripod quickly comes with a traditional camera. There is also a disadvantage because your phone always vibrates slightly because you hold it.

As a result, the exposure time is limited to about eight seconds. In principle, the more you give the camera the time, the more beautiful the night shot can become.

Now the nice thing is that as soon as you put your phone firmly on or against something, the smart software notices this and automatically continues to expose it for longer. 

Depending on the phone model, the maximum used to be around ten seconds, but suddenly this increases to no less than thirty seconds. 

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Make sure that your smartphone does not fall over because it is too fragile and too expensive. Think for example of a tripod.

Hidden night mode

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Does your phone have a night mode? Then it sometimes pays to be stubborn by secretly staying in normal photo mode in low light. Because there can be a hidden function with which you can also take beautiful evening and night photos. 

For example with the phones from Huawei. You notice it quickly enough when you take a photo in poor lighting conditions and you suddenly get an on-screen message that you have to hold the device stably for a while.

As in night mode, multiple photos are now taken and merged. It only happens in a slightly different way. The result, therefore, looks different compared to the night mode. 

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Sometimes one photo is more beautiful than another. So take a few pictures in both camera modes (the normal photo mode and the special night mode) and check afterwards which one you like best. Of course, this only works if you have a grip on the night mode and can switch it on and off yourself.


Are you ready for a new smartphone? Then it pays to consider a device with night mode. After all, you take the best and most atmospheric pictures in low light and then this mode is indispensable. 

Slowly but surely, more and more phones are getting a night service and you don’t even have to buy the best and most expensive phone. The function can also be found more often on cheaper models.

Large cameras, such as an SLR or mirrorless camera, still make more beautiful night photos if you put them under a magnifying glass. But that only works if you know exactly how to do that and that is not so easy. 

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Ideal for a smartphone with night mode is that everyone can now take beautiful night photos. Without any knowledge of cameras, settings, or photo editing. You capture the most beautiful memories in an instant.

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