Tips and Frequently Asked Questions

Quick tips

Hold steady

Hold Steady for a blur-free shot. Tuck your elbows into your ribs and hold your device in both hands for a steady grip, or rest your device on a solid surface. Aidie, the built-in AI camera operator will know you’re holding still and adjust the camera – you’ll see the image brighten up.

Use a tripod

You can take amazing photos with the Long Exposure or Light Trails modes, but the longer the exposure is, the easier it gets to blur the shot if you move your device. A tripod will give you the best experience and the best results.

Tripods come in all shapes and sizes, including very cheap pocket sized devices designed to hold an iPhone.

The darker it gets, the slower it gets

To increase brightness, NightCap slows the camera down, giving it more time to absorb more light, but it also slows down focusing.

In very low light NightCap’s AI assisted focusing helps (you’ll see “AI FOC” at the top of the screen) for fast, reliable focusing. You can manually adjust the focus by simply sliding your finger left and right near the bottom of the picture.

No camera works in complete darkness

NightCap needs some light to work its magic, but if you simply hold still Aidie (the built-in AI camera operator) will help and the picture will get brighter. If it’s very dark turning on Light Boost can help.

If it’s still too dark, you’ll have to use the flash or other lighting.

When to use Night Mode or Light Boost

Use Night Mode when you’re recording video in very low light and don’t need the smoothest possible video.

Night Mode slows the camera down, giving the camera more time to capture more light. It’s only available for video (it’s automatically enabled by AI for photos). Night Mode produces brighter, less grainy video. It reduces the smoothness of the video recording to accomplish this.

Where possible it uses a special camera mode too. This isn’t available on all devices, but where available it uses a special lower resolution camera mode that provides much better performance in low light.

Use Light Boost when your shot looks a little dark, or when you want to brighten shadowed areas. 

Light Boost simply boosts brightness. There is no downside to using it, and it’s available for both photo and video.

When to use extended exposure (Star) modes

Long exposure mode (blurred star)

This produces a natural long exposure effect – moving objects show motion blur, and you’ll get very very low noise levels. Use for:

  • Low noise photos in low light
  • Motion blur

Light trails mode (extended star)

This preserves the brightest parts of anything moving. Use for:

  • Fireworks – Tutorial
  • Light painting
  • Star trails – Tutorial
  • Moving night-time traffic

Astronomy modes

These modes are designed to help you photograph stars, star trails, meteors and the International Space Station. They set the camera up for you automatically, and also show a popup explaining how they work before you start the shot.

Video resolution

Video mode may use lower resolution if you turn on Night Mode. If you need the highest resolution, use Light Boost or the flash instead.

Which iPhone is best for low light photography with NightCap Camera

In bright light, the latest iPhone model is almost always the best, but that changes in very low light (for example when photographing the stars).

This is because newer phones may have more megapixels, meaning smaller pixels that absorb less light, or a shorter maximum exposure time limiting the amount of light the camera can collect.

As a rough guide, in the very darkest conditions these are the best iPhone models (best first):

  1. iPhone 6 / 6 Plus and iPhone 7 / 7 Plus
  2. iPhone 5S
  3. iPhone 6s / 6s Plus
  4. iPhone 5
  5. iPhone 4S

The iPhone 6 and 7 (not including 6s) series perform best in low light. The 6 performs very slightly better, but the 7 and 7 Plus has better camera features.

Read our tutorials to learn more!

If you want to learn how to take some really amazing photos with NightCap Camera, check out our tutorials!

Frequently asked questions

Why does it take so long to focus?

NightCap slows the camera down, giving it time to absorb more light and create a brighter image. The downside is that the camera takes longer to automatically focus.

In very low light the AI assisted focusing will activate automatically, making focusing quick and reliable. If needed there’s also full manual control, so you can simply slide your finger left and right near the bottom of the camera view to adjust focus.

Why isn't Night Mode available for photos?
In NightCap Camera Night Mode is only available for time lapse and video recording, as we built an AI based system to replace it for photos to make the app easier to use. This controls the camera automatically, so all you need to do in low light is hold the camera steady (or use a tripod) and you’ll see the picture get brighter and less noisy.
When should I use the flash?

If you’re shooting something fairly close, and you don’t want the background or natural lighting, use the flash.

If you’re shooting something further away, or you want the background to be visible or you want to capture natural lighting, turn the flash off.

What's the difference between standard photos and Long Exposure mode?

The iPhone / iPad cameras are limited to between 1/3 second and 1 second exposure (shutter speed) depending on which model you have. This is set by Apple, and we can’t work around it unfortunately. To take that further, in long exposure or light trails mode the app captures camera data continuously and combines it into a single image.

That means the “camera” exposure time is limited, but you can get much longer exposures in practice. It also means that you can take long exposures in daylight without needing any camera filters.

In Long Exposure it doesn’t get brighter like it does on a traditional camera, because that quickly blinds the camera and you don’t actually gain much light sensitivity. Instead, the technique we use reduces image noise while preserving detail, so you can use much higher ISO than normal in low light (you’ll get decent quality shots even at ISO 4000). You’ll also get long exposure effects like blurring for anything moving past the camera.

How do I photograph the moon?
Why is access to the camera / microphone / photo library / location required?

NightCap Camera requires access to various parts of your device in order to work correctly. It’ll ask for permission to access them when it requires them.

Camera and Photo Library: Access to these is required when you first open the app. It can’t work without access to the camera, and without access to the photo library it can’t save or display photos or videos.

Microphone: Access is required for recording video (without it the video will have no sound). This is requested when you first use video mode. If you refuse access, videos will be recorded without sound.

Location: Only required if you turn on geo-tagging in the settings. This tags your photos and videos with the location you took them at, allowing you to search for photos by place or view them on a map.

We don’t use these features for anything other than making the app work, and we have no access to any of your data at all. NightCap Camera doesn’t need or use an internet connection.

Why is infinite (100) focus slightly blurry?

The iPhone’s camera can focus “beyond infinity”. To make focusing easier, NightCap Camera uses AI (artificial intelligence) to work out exactly where infinite focus should be. This means you can set focus to 100 and it should be just right.

However, because the camera in every iPhone is slightly different, the AI needs to learn about your camera before it’s perfect. As it learns, it improves, and focusing gets more and more accurate.

You can help it to learn quickly by using NightCap Camera outdoors in daylight. Doing so helps the AI to quickly learn the exact properties of your camera so it knows exactly how to get best focus.

Can I use the volume button, headphones or bluetooth remote to take photos?

Yes – simply turn it on in the in-app settings. It’s the last option.

Photos or videos appear rotated when they're saved
This can be caused by two things:
1. If you have Rotation Lock turned on. This prevents the iPhone interface from rotating as you rotate the device, but it also blocks NightCap from knowing which orientation the device is in. In this case, all photos and videos will always be in portrait mode.
You can check if you have Rotation Lock turned on by swiping up from the bottom of the screen to show the iPhone control center. Rotation Lock is a padlock with a circular arrow around it. It will be red if it’s turned on.
2. If you’re taking photos or videos with the phone pointing upwards or downwards, then it won’t know whether to use landscape or portrait (the iPhone uses gravity to work out which way it’s pointing, and if it’s pointing up or down landscape and portrait are the same). To avoid this issue, try pointing the camera at the horizon before you start.
NightCap Camera is crashing, what should I do?

If you are experiencing crashing in NightCap Camera please contact us for support.

Remember to tell us what iPhone or iPad model you are using and try to describe what happens. This will help us to find out what the problem is and get it fixed quickly.

Is an Android version available?

We’re frequently asked about NightCap Camera for Android phones. Unfortunately the app works very closely with the hardware, and it needs to be carefully tuned for every device it runs on so the app already requires a lot of work with just the iPhone.

Supporting Android really wouldn’t be practical because of the wide range of devices, and not all Android devices are capable of running the app. As a small company it’s not viable in terms of resources and development costs so we’re not planning an Android version at the moment.

Where is NightCap Camera's Privacy Policy?

We don’t have one, because we believe your privacy is important. We don’t access or store any of your information at all. NightCap Camera doesn’t send any data at all to us, and we don’t use any tracking, advertising or analytics systems.

Any questions?