There was expectation to see if the iPhone 11 they improved in an aspect in which several competing phones were winning an important battle: the photograph taken in low light conditions. Previous generations of Apple's phone did not have something like the night mode that several manufacturers had implemented.
This is based on the use of algorithms to take several photographic shots in a time of one or several seconds. These shots are then merged into a single photo, with improved brightness. The best exponent of this are phones like Google Pixel, which do not equip with the best camera or the brightest on the market. But they have sophisticated algorithm technology to achieve great photos when light is in short supply. In his day we did a test than they were able to achieve in this sense the Huawei P30 Pro, the Oppo Reno 10X and the Google Pixel 3a.
The three cameras of the iPhone Pro offer very different conditions to capture night or low-light photos
After a first analysis of the photographic qualities of the iPhone 11 Pro, let us now see more calmly than your triple camera system is capable when light is in short supply. That it is always the toughest test that can be subjected to a camera, be it from a phone or any other type.
Expectations in this regard were important, because even mid-range economic phones had successfully implemented the so-called night mode. Of course, sometimes the results of the photos we get show colors and a fairly unreal luminosity. That is why there was some expectation about what Apple would do in this regard, as the company has almost always distinguished itself in incorporating a fairly realistic image treatment into its cameras.
The operation of night mode is different from other competition terminals
This time we have in the iPhone 11 Pro a three-camera system in which the star is an angular one with a 12-megapixel sensor, larger than the other two, and with a stabilized lens with a f / 1.8 luminosity. It is not the brightest camera on the market, but they are quite decent figures.
Where Apple has worn is in its 52mm camera, which provides a zoom of two magnifications. It has a 12 megapixel sensor smaller than the angular camera, but in its favor it has the great brightness of its objective, f / 2.0. What makes it the most luminous camera of these features of a phone. It also has optical stabilization.
Finally we have a 12-megapixel ultra-angular camera with a sensor that apparently has the same size as the 52mm camera, but the brightness of this 13mm lens is lower, f / 2.4, and it does not have optical stabilization as the other two. Data that is not good for taking night photos or dimly lit environments. Now let's see in practice what we can do.
The first thing we should know is that the night mode is activated automatically when the camera of the phone detects that there is very little light. That is when several shots are taken during one or several seconds that merge into a final photo. If we place the camera on a tripod, the iPhone detects that the phone is still and we can take photos of up to 30 seconds, as we have seen.
When the night mode is activated we can select an amount of time to take the photos. Ten seconds at maximum pulse and 30 if the camera is on a tripod. But beware, this night mode only works with the 26mm camera and the 52mm camera. Not with the 13mm ultra angular camera.
In fact, we have also verified with the always recommended ProCam application that if we want to take photos in RAW format, something that in the case of certain night photos can be recommended for later editing, it is also not possible with this camera, although it is possible with other two.
In our tests we have taken many photographs. One of the challenges we set was to capture a starry sky even with some light pollution and a crescent moon. For this we have used a tripod and we shoot with the 26mm camera a photo with the night mode activated for 30 seconds.
The result shows some of the photos of the sky clearly despite the unfavorable ambient light conditions. What seems to us a pleasant surprise, although we have detected in this photo some luminous incongruity at the edges of the image. We have also made freehand in a park with poor lighting, but not so low as to activate the night mode a couple of photos with the 26mm camera and the 52mm freehand.
The results have been, as expected, better with the 26mm camera, for having a larger image sensor and being brighter. But the 52mm camera also proves to be better than we expected in such a situation. Although the photo shot with the 26mm camera was captured with a sensitivity of 800 ISO versus the 640 ISO of the 52mm camera, the level of detail is much better with the 26mm camera. Here we find the advantage of having a larger image sensor.
Finally we did several tests in a dimly lit environment but with light bulbs in some areas, we thank the Bar The Dog your collaboration for the realization of this test. In this environment, which may be more common for taking photos in low light, we use the three cameras of the phone.
In none of the photos we took the iPhone activated the night mode to determine that the light was sufficient. We obtained a lower level of detail with the ultra-angular camera, something we already expected. But the result is not as bad as expected in a camera designed to take pictures in well-lit environments. The other two cameras here behaved excellently. Showing a good level of detail that makes it unnecessary to use the flash. By the way, the use of night mode is incompatible with it. In case anyone asked.
In short, at first glance Apple does not seem to have innovated much with the inclusion of night mode. But in reality we have observed something that we liked a lot when this is activated: the photos still have quite realistic color tones. In addition, we do not observe processing failures. As in some mid-range terminals.
Something that we also liked, and much, is that Apple has incorporated a camera with a zoom of two magnifications quite bright and with a stabilized lens. Which greatly expands the possibilities of framing closely in unfavorable light conditions. In fact, in this aspect the iPhone Pro is probably the phone that offers better photos of this type using a zoom.
Hopefully, yes, the ultra-angular camera improves its brightness and is equipped with an optical stabilizer in future generations. We would also like some more agility in the focus system when taking photos with night mode on. Although at the end of the day we are aware that we are talking about the camera of a phone.
By the way, we have not forgotten the video in this test. The iPhone 11 Pro incorporates something that is very rare to see on a phone, and is a recording mode in 4K at 24 fps instead of at 30 fps that we are used to seeing at least. These six frames of difference allow you to obtain brighter images when recording in low light. But in this case we recommend using the main camera. Because the other two due to their low brightness produce images that are too dark or too loud.