Though phones vary in quality and features significantly, there are still some general tricks – both technical and common sense – you can pick up on to maximize image quality in low light photos.
Technical primer: Understanding exposure
Before we begin, you should understand the two main variables affect exposure (how bright the image appears) on your phone: shutter speed and ISO.
The shutter controls how long light hits the sensor. The longer the shutter is open, the brighter an image will be. However, you run the risk of blurring the image due to movement.
The ISO value, on the other hand, determines the sensor’s electronic sensitivity to light. Higher ISOs allow you to brighten an image without changing the shutter speed, but always at the expense of a noisier image.
Note: There’s a third important exposure variable called aperture, but as this can very rarely be modified on phones, we’re leaving it out for now.
Got that? Lets get started.
1) Expose correctly from the start
Make sure you actually tap on the subject on your phone’s screen so the camera sets the proper exposure (and focus).
If you need to, use the exposure compensation tools on your phone to get things just right; low light photos are less malleable for edits later, so make sure your subject is properly illuminated from the get-go.