Since my first iPhone, more than 10 years ago, I have tried to capture some of the amazing live music experiences that I have been fortunate to enjoy. Even the iPhone 7 Plus, it was not worth saving live music photos. Everything was grainy, loud and simply flat. However, with the iPhone 7, things improved a bit and, from then on, each iPhone progressively improved, but nothing to start a digital magazine. Mobile phone photography on iPhone never seemed to meet my standards to capture the action and depth I see when I watch bands in my favorite local places.
The conditions are practically impossible, even for the most trained photographers with more advanced cameras than any iPhone. Dim lighting plus wild movement equals noise, grain and blur where you don’t want to blur. Using the iPhone flash is out of the question. Not only does it annoy band members and audience participants, it also removes images, making the vibrant glow of the room seem like a dirty mess.
So, with the night mode on iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max, of course, I had to test this technology. Could this hardware / software calculation handle one of the worst possible lighting conditions to take pictures of actions?
What I learned from the tests is that the night mode on the new iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro shows a remarkable improvement over any previous iPhone. If you are in a bar or club with your friends and want to capture those beautiful moments, those memories you never want to forget, the way your partner looks in the candlelight, the night mode is more than extraordinary. It will change the way we take pictures, and where and when.
Midnight on New Year’s Eve? Baby’s first birthday? A lovely night walk on a winter night? Everything can be captured with beautiful results in the camera in your pocket.
However, if you expect to be the next Rolling Stone photographer with your iPhone 11 Pro, it won’t happen this year. There is still some work to be done before mobile phone cameras are able to capture that action in low light.
While the night mode did a fantastic job of sharpening most of the action shots at the live music event where I took photos, better than ever before, the faces had more problems. Of course, when you’re crushing metal like Bruce Dickinson, you’re going to move your face a lot. Therefore, it is no surprise that night mode cannot keep up. After all, it is to open the shutter for a few seconds, which makes it difficult to capture the stillness that is not there.
What I would love to see in Apple’s next job is to balance the night mode with the action. If the night mode takes a lot of shots from different angles and joins what you think is the main theme of the composition, you could imagine a day when the night action mode first takes a single still image, that would be the one that takes The exact moment you want, identify the face and keep the sharpest parts of the facial features, and then use the same computer software to join the rest of the scene. Therefore, the face would be based on an original non-stitched image, while the rest of the image would be soft in night mode.
For now, however, I think night mode is best used for a less active movement (you definitely don’t have to stay totally still … just quieter than swing on the stage), while using the iPhone 11 or iPhone 11 Pro without The night mode (in addition to increasing the brightness) would be for those chaotic action shots in low light, even if they are a bit noisy and grainy.
The images used in this article have been edited in a publication. The images in the gallery below include everything I took without any subsequent editing work so I can see exactly what I finished at the end of the night, poor composition, overexposure and everything.