Apple iPhone 6S Plus – Extreme Low Light – Photography Special Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my iPhone 6S Plus Photography special. To recap on Part 1 click here – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2015/10/12/apple-iphone-6s-plus-photography-special-video-and-photos-part-1/

Over the last few weeks I have been exploring several camera apps that all claim to help or add something to the photography experience when taking photos. The apps I tested were the default Apple camera app, Slow Shutter, Camera+, Camera Vortex and Nightcap Pro. The 6S Plus was on a tripod for all these night shots. Camera Vortex and Slow Shutter did a terrible job, so I have omitted their photos.

The setting was my local church which has been photographed by most of my smartphones and if you want to see loads of photos of the church was a multitude of angles head over to my flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/gavinfabl100 . The Church is called the Church of St Michaels and All Angels. The time of day was passed dusk and the last shots were taken inside the graveyard in near pitch black. I will add commentary on each shot and also at the end I have linked to low light shots from the LG G4 and Honor 6+ that I took.

The developer of Nightcap Pro, Chris Wood, has been extremely helpful trying to help me extract the best from his app. He also gave some interesting insight into the new iPhones –

“The iPhone​ 6s / 6s Plus cameras are a solid upgrade except in very low light where they perform slightly worse than the 6 / 6 Plus and even the older 5s. The smaller pixels mean higher resolution but since they’re smaller, there’s less area for light to hit which means it doesn’t receive as much light. Apple have done a great job in compensating for that with better technology, though. However, the camera is also limited to just 1/3 second exposures, which is 50% less than the 6 / 6 Plus which go to 1/2 second, so the end result is slightly worse performance.”

You'll see why I got in touch with the developer of Nightcap Pro as his app was the best by far for creating a usable low night shot of the church.

First let's take a look at what the default camera app can achieve.

Flash first. Shutter was 1/17, with ISO 2000.

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

HDR on, no flash, shutter 1/17 , ISO 2000.

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

Auto mode, no HDR, no flash, shutter 1/4, ISO 640. A less noisy shot and the best of the 3 from the Apple default camera app.

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

Using Nightcap Pro, the shot below was taken in pitch black conditions. Using long exposure mode for around 20 seconds. ISO is showing as 3,200, but you wouldn’t know it.

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light Camera Test - Pitch Dark - Nightcap Pro - Long Exposure

So with Camera+ using full manual settings, this was the best shot possible at 1/4 second shutter speed and ISO 1250. A noisy shot.
iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

So Nightcap Pro did a really good job. It also has other modes, so I was experimenting with some light trails as per the two shots below. Unfortunately, I live in a rural village, which means no traffic. After 3 hours only 2 cars drove through, hence why there is only 2 photos using this mode!

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

Nightcap Pro also has a mode to brighten up dark shots. Photo as below. There are many other features of Nightcap Pro, but the long and short of it, is that it takes brilliant night shots that are way better than the default camera app and many other third party iOS camera apps too.

iPhone 6S Plus Low Light camera test - full review at http://gavinsgadgets.com

To see how my LG G4 in manual mode coped with darkness at the same church click here – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2015/05/17/lg-g4-the-review/ . About half way down the review is shots taken at various shutter exposures.

As another point of reference is the super night mode from my Honor 6+. See here for shot of same church again using the super night mode – https://gavinsgadgets.com/2015/05/13/honor-6-the-review/

So in summary extreme low light is difficult on the iPhone 6S Plus unless you have Nightcap Pro ( https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/nightcap-pro/id754105884?mt=8 ) . I can only hope that as the 12mp rear camera is new, Apple will release software update to improve its results.

What do you think?

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4 thoughts on “Apple iPhone 6S Plus – Extreme Low Light – Photography Special Part 2

  1. G4 is a clear winner for night shots. You can even read the writing on the gravestones. Very unlike Apple to go backwards. Maybe, as you say, it will improve but you can only do so much with smaller sensors. Nightcap Pro is impressive. Is there a similar app you’d recommend for Android?

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