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Average+Night Camera App Review

Average+Night Camera logoThe best camera, they say, is the one you have with you. And cer­tainly, the camera that produces the most photographs posted to the likes of Flickr and Facebook is the iPhone. Always to hand, it’s now easy to capture any moment, any scene, any landscape, as the mood takes you… unless it’s at night, or in a dimly lit room. In these situations, the iPhone camera fails miserably: that tiny lens simply isn’t up to the job of capturing enough light to make sense of a dark scene. Sure, in some circumstances, you can use the flash, but -even with the iPhone 5S and its new dual flash mode – that’s likely to produce flat, uninspiring shots that highlight the fore­ground, but completely lose any sense of atmosphere.

Some photography apps slow the shutter speed in an attempt to mimic the behavior of manual shooting mode on conventional SLR cameras. However, this approach is rarely successful, as the degree of control simply isn’t there. Images are likely to come out blurred and either under- or overexposed as the software attempts to cope with an impossible situation.

AvgNiteCam may be a clumsy title – it’s short for Average Night Camera, and is so abbreviated only so it can be read on the iPhone screen – but it’s a great solution to the problem of shooting interiors, still life’s and night views. Rather than attempting to manipulate the iPhone’s shutter speed, it instead captures multiple shots with a singe press of the shooting button. And when we say multiple, we mean it: you can choose anything from two up to an amaz­ing 1,024 captures.

Once all the shots are taken, AvgNiteCam combines all these captures into a single photograph, averaging out the images to produce a composite that’s far better than anything the iPhone can produce by itself. In practice, we found that 32 images were easily sufficient to produce excellent results, the process taking about 20 seconds, as the shots are captured in rapid succession.

avgnite cam screen2

AvgNiteCam also has a low light sen­sitivity setting, which can capture a wider range of tones by open­ing the shutter for longer periods. But because you aren’t relying on one shot, you don’t need to make an accurate guess of the exposure time. It also in­cludes an automatic timer so you can trigger the first shot without fear of shake while doing so, as well as a grid to ensure straight horizons and adherence to the rule of thirds.

The results are hugely impressive. Compare our two shots of Bilbao’s Gug­genheim Museum, taken at night (above). The shot captured by the iPhone’s native camera app is dark and grainy, with a lot of noise in the shadows; that taken by Avg­NiteCam is not only much brighter, it also has noticeably diminished noise content.

avgnite cam screen 1

The lack of noise means you can push the image more after capture. Try to boost the shadows and midtones in a native Cam­era app capture and all you get is enhanced noise. By contrast, the composite images taken by AvgNiteCam has so little noise that it can be brightened, contrast-boosted and even sharpened to produce a clean, crisp image comparable to what could have been, captured by a camera with a full-size lens.

Of course, there are limitations. The iPhone needs to be resting on a perfectly stable surface for the duration of the cap­ture, which means handheld photography is out. And while it’s great for landscapes, interiors and city views, you couldn’t eas­ily use it to capture shots of people, since even the slightest movement is likely to produce an unwanted blur. On the iPhone 4S, the camera occasionally crashes, due to its high memory requirements, but restart­ing solves the problem.

However, for shots such as the one here, the difference is clear. AvgNiteCam enables iPhone owners to produce technically ex­cellent shots in low light, without the need for additional hardware.

 

Verdict:

Shots taken with AvgNiteCam are not only much brighter, they also have lower noise content

 

Pros:

  • Stunning night photography on your iPhone
  • Almost foolproof

Cons:

  • Needs a stable surface
  • Not good for people shots

 

 

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