Monday, 3 June 2013

PureView “Creative” vs “Auto” Settings (low light)

Saturday, 01.06.2012
My favourite football club "FC Basel 1893" won the Swiss championship!
I took lots of pictures at the huge party that went on all night long.

While my first few pictures with "Automatic" settings weren't that great, adjusting the "Creative" settings in the 808's camera interface made a real difference.

Here are a few low light pictures and tips and tricks, based on my experience last Saturday.

Automatic (Scene) mode

I turned off the flash, but otherwise choose the default automatic settings for the first few shots.

As you can see, it shows a lot of details, sharpness is alright and it is not too dark. The 808 captured a decent amount of light here.
What is messed up, is the colour. The purple/pink tint of the picture does not reflect the real life (dark red/orange) scene.

As a side note, my brothers photos taken on a iPhone 4S, turned out to look very similar (more blurred than mine, but the colours are almost identical).

Creative Mode

Luckily the 808 offers highly customisable "Creative" settings, allowing me to adjust the camera for the scene and actually take some decent pictures. Here is the result...

Those are the settings I used:
  • Resolution: 5 MP (16:9)
    I choose 5 MP, so I have enough pixels left for the "PureView" oversampling. Important for colours and noise reduction.
  • JPEG quality: Superfine
    If you are in the creative settings, always use this option ;)
  • Colour tones: Vivid
    To be honest, in this scene it didn't really make much of a difference. But after two test shots, I decided to go with that.
  • Exposure Value (EV): -0.7
    This, in combination with the "Cloudy" scene mode, is actually what fixed the colours!
  • Scene mode (white balance): Cloudy
    I guess what you see on the picture above could be considered a "cloudy scenario" :)
    It was just an idea to use this option, but it worked out very well in combination of altering the EV.
  • ISO: Automatic
    Using the automatic settings, the 808 choose values of 64-80.
    Playing around with the ISO settings can be helpful in low light, in this case it was not necessary.
  • Flash: Off
    Since the object was a crowd, there was no point in highlighting the back of the heads directly in front of me.
It may looks like a lot of effort, when put into words, but I applied these settings in only a few seconds.

With a beer in one hand and the 808 in the other, it didn't occur to me at that moment, but looking back, I could have done better.

Adjusting Saturation and Contrast, choosing a different focus mode and maybe manual ISO settings could have made a difference too. I was just aiming for the correct colours, after I achieved that, I didn't look any further for even better settings... I suggest you do, if you are aiming for perfect low light photo's of your own ;)


I don't own a DSLR, so I borrowed a picture from for my comparison.

(Source: FC Basel Bilder Gallery)

Obviously the guy who took this picture, had a better position and camera ("Canon EOS-1D Mark IV") than I had :)
But as far as the colours and contrast goes, I think my 808 did pretty good too.


I hope you liked this little "Automatic vs Creative" settings comparison.

You can not expect that the settings I used for this scene will work for all low light scenarios.
Every low light situation has different light sources, distances, etc... but I hope this gives you an idea of how to handle low light situations like this.

Comments are welcome about my results and of course your own experience and tips and tricks ;)


  1. Congratulations to championship! Really nice pictures in creative mode, there is a lot of flexibility using 808.
    Cheers, Franz

    1. hi Franz


      agreed, in "automatic" settings there are quite a few phones now, that can compete with the 808... but when it comes to flexibility the 808 is untouchable :)

      How are you doing by the way?

    2. All fine, I just posted to your new project updating CFW for 808 and looked back to here.

      I took a lot of photos with 808 in the last months. As it is my only camera now I am really happy about the picture quality and the handling as a digital camera.

      Meanwhile I prefer CameraPro Qt v3.40 from Harald Meyer - perfect customizing options and the best setting for picture quality versus file size is 98%, also this version uses the PV oversampling. Results are amazing.

    3. I heard only good things about CameraPro Qt, though I sticked with the default camera application so far...

      Is the CameraPro Qt able to "replace" the default camera app?
      E.g. can you start CameraPro by pressing the physical camera button (also if the phone is locked)?

    4. Yes, you can replace the default camera app in QCamera settings.

      But my scenario is different.
      In some situations the default camera app is still more useful, so I don't want to miss it.
      Just one exmaple:
      If you give your phone to somebody else to take a picture of you, the handling with standard app is better for others, because QCamera shows the picture after shooting infinite (best for my use, but changable in settings), after half press on shutter you can shoot the next picture. With inbuild app you can shoot the next pic without doing anything additional and this is better for people who know nothing about that.

      To get my most used 3 scenarios right away I did:
      - disable taking picture at locked phone in standard app
      - disable replace standard app with QCamera in QCamera settings
      - close CameraPro at keylock/background (otherwise lens stays open and causes battery drain)
      - install QuickCam (by Lancet from store)
      and enable there:
      - hold camera button launches: CameraPro
      - Dbl Click button launches: Panorama
      - Screenlock on AppEnd

      Then it works (reliable) like this:
      1. Phone is locked, press camera button once: QCamera launches and closes when you lock the screen
      2. Phone is locked, press camera button twice: Panorama launches and closes when you lock the screen
      3. Unlock phone manually and press camera button: Standard app launches, close with red button or send to background by locking the screen.

    5. sounds quite interesting, thanks for your feedback!
      i may give it a try after i am done with my new cfw :)