The iPhone 5 takes great pictures in low light. This is thanks to a “boost mode” which amps up the signal from the chip to grab back detail from the shadows. This comes at the expense of extra noise (it’s effectively upping the ISO of certain sections of the image), and presumably getting some extra noise-reduction to even things up.
However, right now you’ll only find it in the native camera app. But not for long.
Developers can include this “low light boost mode” in their own apps by using an as-yet undocumented property to their apps (it should soon be officially official). It’s optional, as not everybody prefers noisy shadow detail to plain black patches.
This software option explains a lot about the iPhone’s camera. I have tried a bunch of different camera apps on my iPad 3 but always come back to the native app, even though it is too simple and a little clumsy. In low light it seems to get sharper, less noisy pictures; focussing seems faster and the face detection is also very handy.
Using the native app also makes it easy to just open up my processing app of choice to tweak the picture.
Anyhow, if you’re interested in this kind of thing, or if you’re a developer of a camera app, take a look at Jim Rhoades’s article on the tech aspects of this new feature.
Source: Jim Rhoades / Crush Apps.