Most modern smartphones will allow you to capture great shots when ample sunlight is available. However, camera performance understandably suffers in indoor lighting and in dark conditions to an extent depending on your camera hardware. A great camera sensor with a good quality wide aperture lens would help, but to make do with whatever you have got, here are a few things you should consider.
Most camera apps these days allow you to toggle ISO settings to an extent. Increasing ISO means increasing sensitivity to light and this can indeed help you take better shots in low lighting. The drawback is, that with increased ISO, there will be more noise in your shots, so you have to be careful to strike the right balance.
If your ISO setting is perfect for you, but at the cost of increased noise, you can use software programs like noise ninja to sharpen your images.
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Dyanamic range is a difference between the brightest part of an image and the darkest part. HDR or High dynamic range imaging is essentially a technique to improve dynamic range so your shots can capture both bright light and dark shadows.
In HDR camera captures multiple photos at different exposures and then software combines it to give a detailed low light shot close to what your eyes will see at the scene. However, you cannot use HDR for images of a moving subject.
For best results, your hand must be perfectly still. A tripod can help you with steadiness, but if carrying one is not an option, try to keep your elbows as close to your body as possible. In low light photography, shutter has to open for longer time to capture right amount of light and thus it is even more important for your camera to be steady. Also take care of the artificial light source and do not stand directly against the room lighting.
Adjust White Balance and Exposure
Your camera app will show you several presets for white balance like cloudy, fluorescent, tungsten, etc and is set in auto mode by default. You can set this to Manual Mode and get better effects in your images. You can also manually toggle exposure setting for more light in your images. With practice, you can click artistic shots with the right combination of both.
Besides being intrusive, your smartphone camera flash can flatten you pics and rob them of their natural colors. Dual tone flashes generally work better. But to compensate for low light you can also use flash accessories like Lenovo selfie flash and Asus Lolliflash, without over exposing your images.
If you have a second phone with you, you can use its flash as torch and point it upwards to bounce from the ceiling rather than pointing it directly at the subject. If you are really serious, you could also invest in some fast sharp lens to aid your low light photography.
All these techniques can’t compensate for a crappy camera, but yes with most reasonable modern day smartphones, you can use these options to enhance your photographs. Download a good post processing software to sharpen your images and try out these options if you haven’t already.