Shooting videos with your iPhone in low-light situations may not always give you the results you want. And that’s true when recording video in 720p, 1080p, and even 4K resolutions. But there is an easy way to maximize the quality of your video when filming in dark environments.
When taking photos on iPhone 11, 12, or 13 series model, the Camera app can intelligently detect when the scene is too dark and enable night mode to improve image quality. The iPhone 12 Pro and 13 Pro models can even do that with portraits. But when recording videos, it won’t do the same as Night Mode only works for time-lapses on iPhone 12 and newer models.
Shooting at 60 frames per second (fps) allows less light to enter through the shutter, as it takes one frame every 16.67 milliseconds. Less light in dark situations contributes to grainier footage with a loss of greater dynamic range. It also means that the codec works harder in fast-moving scenes, increasing file size. The result is more like a cheap home video than the high-quality recording you’d expect from an iPhone.
Compare that to 30 fps, where one frame is captured every 33.33 milliseconds, allowing twice as much light to pass through the shutter. When more light comes in, dark scenes look much better. Set that back to 24 fps and you get 41.67 milliseconds to let the light do its thing, making your dark-lit video look even brighter. And all of this applies whether you’re shooting in 4K, 1080p, or 720p resolution.
You can manually change the frame rate to 24 fps in the Camera app’s settings, but that’s not very useful. There’s also the in-app frame rate selector that you can use to switch on the spot. However, it’s better if you don’t have to change the frame rate yourself, because with brighter scenes you might forget to change it again.
To help you out, Apple has a setting you can turn on that automatically lowers the frame rate in dark environments to improve the quality of your video. To set it up, go to Settings -> Camera -> Record Video. What you do next depends on which iPhone model you have.
iPhone 12 Series and Newer Models
Select the “Auto FPS” option and then apply it to the 30 fps video setting. Unlike older models, you can also set Auto FPS to both 30fps and 60fps video recording. So you don’t have to switch to 30 fps in 60 fps mode to take advantage of this.
- Applies to iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 mini, iPhone 13 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro Max, iPhone SE (3rd generation) with iOS 14, iOS 15 or iOS 16.
iPhone XR and older models
Turn on the “Auto Low Light FPS” switch. You can only enable it in 30fps shooting modes, so select 720p HD at 30fps, 1080p HD at 30fps, or 4K at 30fps. No matter which one you select, it will also enable Auto Low Light FPS for the other two 30 fps modes.
- Applies to iPhone 6siPhone 6s Plus, iPhone SE (1st generation), iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, iPhone XsiPhone Xs Max, iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 11 Pro Max, iPhone SE (2nd generation) with iOS 14, iOS 15, or iOS 16.
How it works while shooting
When you record video in the Camera app and iOS detects that the landscape isn’t lit well enough, it switches to 24 fps. It may do this before you start shooting or during a current shot if the lighting has changed enough for it to take effect.
You won’t notice the frame rate change on the Camera app’s indicator before hitting the record – it will always display the selected frame rate even if it’s using 24 fps (as seen below). But you’ll be able to tell it started by swiping up when viewing the video in Photos on iOS 15 or iOS 16, which lists the recorded frame rate. On iOS 14, you can use an EXIF analyzer on your iPhone to see the frame rate.
If it was dark all the time it would be a flat 24 fps. If the exposure changes during filming, you might get something like 25.5 fps or even 43 fps depending on the mode you selected, how long the video is and how often it was at 24 fps versus your chosen one. option.
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