How to take the best night mode photos with your iPhone

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What makes the iPhone’s camera so special is the insanely powerful processor that controls the image processing. This allows an iPhone to do tricks that you cannot with a normal camera, including the night mode with which you take super sharp photos in the dark. With our iPhone night mode tips, you can make the most of it.

1. This is how you turn it on

Night mode is available on all models of iPhone 11 and iPhone 12. You can’t turn it on manually: it happens automatically when it’s so dark that a normal photo would be too grainy. You will then see a yellow night mode icon appear. At dusk, you’ll see a gray night mode icon: you can turn it on by tapping it.

2. One camera is not the other

On the iPhone 11 models, night mode does not work on the ultra wide-angle (0.5x) lens. Although this is possible on the iPhone 12, we recommend that you always use the ‘normal’ wide-angle lens (1x) for the night mode. This catches the most light, and therefore gives the best results.

3. Choose your exposure time

Your iPhone automatically chooses how long the exposure should be for your night mode photo, based on your movements and the environment. However, you can manually change this by tapping the night mode icon and then dragging the shutter button bar.

Pay attention to what you are going to photograph. Do you want to photograph a moving object, or make a portrait? Then go for a shorter exposure to keep the subject in focus. With a longer exposure time you blur moving objects: this can also look artificial.

4. A tripod works wonders

You get the most out of night mode by far by using a tripod. A small tripod with a telephone clamp is sufficient.

Once you put your phone on a tripod, you can opt for a much longer exposure time: up to 30 seconds. Even in pitch darkness, such as a place lit only by moonlight, you can get a sharp photo. Moving objects also disappear almost completely, because they are in the frame during the 30 seconds too short to become clearly visible.

5. Disable Night Mode (Permanently)

In iOS 14 and older, it’s not possible to disable Night Mode completely: it always turns on automatically when it’s dark enough, and you have to manually turn it off every time you don’t want to use it. This can be annoying if the night mode doesn’t suit the photo you want to take.

This will change in iOS 15. You can then enable ‘Settings>Camera>Save settings>Night mode’ that your iPhone remembers whether you have turned off night mode. It will then only turn on if you turn it on yourself. Useful!

Inspiration & More iPhone Night Mode Tips

In 2020, Apple held a special competition where iPhone users could submit their best night mode photos. Here are beautiful examples of what you can capture with the function: view the winners on Apple’s website for some extra inspiration and more iPhone night mode tips.

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