There’s a certain point on an iPhone’s camera where the lack of ambient light will result in a significantly grainy image. The sensor sensitivity can only do so much in terms of retrieving information in low-light situations. It’s interesting, however, to note that if you wait just a few minutes later, the amount of grain drops significantly, allowing you to capture a much cleaner image in the dark.
I typically stay away from taking any photos in the dark with my iPhone for this very reason, but managed to experiment during one of my sunrise shoots earlier in the year, when I took images every so often in the dark. The results surprised me because despite the darkness, there was a point where I was able to capture a useable image.
When I refer to an image as being useable, I typically mean that the raw image from the camera is clean enough for me to edit with, yielding in an image that I would be able to post online. If an image is already so grainy to begin with, editing that will yield in an even grainier image that I wouldn’t be too happy about. Grain is great when you want them in there, but for the most part, I don’t.
The following photos have been taken with my iPhone 6 Plus, but have been reduced in size in Photoshop.
The first photo:
The overall image is really grainy. It was taken in the morning at 7:18am along the lakeshore area. Since there is very little light, the sensor had trouble capturing a clean image. If you look at the skyline and cloud areas in the middle of the photo, you can see the grain quite well.
This next photo is a much cleaner image:
While you may still see some grain in this photo, there is significantly less overall. If you look in the same area along the skyline and clouds, you’ll see the details are much more noticeable. This picture was taken at 7:28am, just 10 minutes later from the previous photo.
If we take a closer look, you’ll see the difference even more. The following photos are 100 percent crops from each photo above.
And this is the full crop of the cleaner image:
And that’s just a 10 minute difference between the two images.
So if you’re ever caught in a situation where you need to take photos in low light situations, try and make the scene just a little bit brighter and see how your iPhone reacts to the added light. It may make a huge difference and yield in photos that are much more pleasing to the eye.