Which Phones Have Astrophotography Mode: Ultimate Guide!

Astrophotography has long been a specialised field, traditionally requiring bulky telescopes and complex camera setups. However, advancements in smartphone technology have opened the door to capturing the night sky in stunning detail, all with a device that fits in your pocket.

In this post, I’ll cover which phones have astrophotography mode, a feature designed to enhance your ability to photograph celestial objects. This mode typically involves long exposure times, advanced processing algorithms, and a focus on low light performance to render the stars and other night sky phenomena with clarity.

The allure of photographing the Milky Way or capturing the shimmer of distant constellations has enticed many smartphone manufacturers to integrate astrophotography capabilities into their camera software. Some of the latest phones boast dedicated modes that adjust camera settings for optimal night sky photography.

These features empower you to take striking photos of the night sky without having to be an astronomy expert or even own a traditional camera. Discovering which phones offer astrophotography mode can guide you to make the best choice for your stargazing and photographic adventures.

orion nebula taken with a smartphone
Orion Nebula taken with a Google Pixel 4 through an 8” SCT telescope. Image credit: David Fuller / Eyes on the Sky

Key Takeaways

  • Modern smartphones enable you to capture the night sky with dedicated astrophotography modes.
  • Certain phones are specifically designed to optimize your night sky photography experience.
  • Understanding your phone’s camera settings can greatly improve your astrophotography results.

Understanding Astrophotography Mode

As smartphone technology has advanced, so too has your ability to capture the night sky in stunning detail. Astrophotography mode is a feature now found in some Android phones that lets you take professional-grade photos of celestial objects.

What Is Astrophotography?

Astrophotography is the practice of photographing astronomical objects and the night sky. In recent years, dedicated astrophotography modes have been developed for smartphones, utilising AI and advanced image processing to capture the stars with remarkable clarity. This mode typically requires longer exposure times and operates best under dark sky conditions, where light pollution is minimal.

Key Features of Astrophotography Mode

Astrophotography mode boasts several key features:

  • Long Exposure: It leverages longer exposure times allowing more light to hit the sensor, which is essential in low-light conditions.
  • AI: Utilises artificial intelligence to reduce noise and enhance detail without the need for manual adjustments.
  • Processing: Employs sophisticated image processing algorithms to increase the dynamic range and overall image quality.

The mode requires a steady base, like a tripod, to prevent camera shake during the long exposure. Some modes automatically detect when the phone is stable before starting the long exposure sequence.

Advantages Over Traditional Photography

In comparison to traditional photography, astrophotography mode in smartphones offers several advantages:

  • Convenience: Allows for high-quality astrophotos without the need for bulky camera equipment.
  • Automation: Simplifies capturing complex scenes by automating settings like exposure time and ISO.
  • Detail: Harnesses advanced sensors and processing to reveal more detail in the night sky than what’s typically possible with standard phone cameras.

Moreover, with manual controls, you have the option to fine-tune settings to your preference, crafting the perfect shot of the cosmos.

Which Phones Have Astrophotography Mode

In the realm of smartphone photography, astrophotography is a niche that has seen remarkable advancements. Your exploration of the night sky can now be more profound, thanks to the capabilities of certain flagship smartphones. These models are equipped with specialised modes and sensors that allow for stunning celestial imagery.

I have a full post about the best smartphones for astrophotography, but here’s a brief summary below.

which phones have astrophotography mode. Photo of the moon taken with a smartphone
Image of the Moon taken with a smartphone through the eyepiece of a telescope

Google Pixel Series

The Google Pixel 8 Pro, in particular, boasts an astrophotography mode that stands out for its ability to capture the night sky in exquisite detail. With a 50 MP main camera and a wide f/1.85 aperture, it gathers more light, allowing for clearer, brighter photographs of the stars.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung’s latest addition, the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, is another stellar performer. It impresses with its versatile camera capabilities and advanced imaging technology, enabling you to take breathtaking photos of the cosmos without compromising on detail or clarity.

Apple iPhone 14 & 15 Pro

If you’re an Apple enthusiast, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max come with a dedicated Night mode that significantly improves your astrophotography experience. Their advanced sensor and computational photography algorithms work together to produce vivid images of constellations and celestial events.

In 2023, Apple released the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, which also boasts an impressive astrophotography mode.

Huawei Flagship Models

Huawei flagship phones, known for their Leica co-engineered cameras, also offer remarkable capabilities for astrophotography. With high-resolution sensors and features optimised for low-light photography, Huawei phones like the Mate and P series make capturing the night sky both accessible and engaging for you.

Key Techniques and Settings for Capturing the Night Sky

When aiming to photograph the night sky using your smartphone, understanding the right settings and techniques is crucial. Properly adjusting your camera settings and stabilising your device can greatly enhance the quality of your astrophotography.

Optimising Camera Settings for the Dark

In low-light conditions, adjusting your ISO setting and shutter speed in Pro mode is key. Keep your ISO as low as possible to avoid noise but high enough to capture the dim light of the stars. Smartphones with dedicated night mode or astrophoto mode automatically adjust these settings to suit astrophotography. If available, select a long exposure time to allow more light to reach the camera sensor, and consider shooting in RAW mode to preserve the details and facilitate effective post-processing.

  • ISO: Aim for a balance between brightness and noise.
  • Shutter Speed: Increase exposure time for brighter images.
  • Night Mode: Use your smartphone’s built-in features to enhance low-light capabilities.
  • RAW Image: Capture unprocessed images for greater control during editing.

Checkout this post for my top smartphone astrophotography tips!

Tripod Usage and Stabilisation Techniques

Mounting your smartphone on a tripod is non-negotiable for clear night photos. This ensures any movement is minimised during the extended exposure required for astrophotography. Use either a remote shutter button or the camera’s timelapse function to avoid shaking the camera when capturing the shot. Certain smartphones might even support a telephoto or ultra-wide lens, improving the field of view for grand celestial shots like the Milky Way.

  • Tripod: Essential for reducing camera shake.
  • Remote Shutter/Timelapse: Prevent movement when starting the exposure.

Post-Processing Astrophotos

After capturing your astrophotos, post-processing is a significant step to bring out the best in your images. Applications like Adobe Lightroom offer powerful tools for enhancing highlights and shadows, tweaking image processing parameters, and combining multiple images for a striking final outcome. When editing, give attention to balancing the contrast of the night sky without losing the delicate star details.

  • Adobe Lightroom: A preferred choice for editing astrophotos.
  • Highlights/Shadows: Adjust to reveal details and reduce harshness in the sky.

Your smartphone is a capable device that, with the right settings and accessories, can produce stunning photographs of the night sky, rivalling those from a DSLR camera. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned photography enthusiast, utilising advanced functions like computational photography effectively can significantly boost the quality of your low-light work.

Tips and Tools to Enhance Astrophotography on Phones

When tackling astrophotography with your smartphone, having the right accessories and apps at your disposal, along with managing your device’s storage and battery, can drastically improve the quality of your night sky images. This section provides you with practical advice to unlock the potential of your phone’s camera for capturing stunning celestial bodies.

Accessory Recommendations

For clearer and more detailed photos of the night sky, consider investing in a telescope to pair with your smartphone, allowing you to zoom in on bright stars and distant galaxies. A Bluetooth remote can help you take photos without shaking the phone. For consistent power during long stargazing sessions, a wireless charging bank is invaluable, ensuring your sessions aren’t cut short by a dying battery.

  • Telescope: A bridge to the cosmos, magnifying distant subjects.
  • Bluetooth Remote: To minimise vibrations and keep your shots steady.
  • Wireless Charging: Keep your device charged for extended periods.

Utilising Apps for Improved Photos

Your Galaxy S23 or S22 Ultra can be transformed into a powerful astrophotography tool with the help of specialised apps available on the Galaxy Store. Look for apps like Sky Guide, which help you locate celestial objects, and ones that offer manual control over your camera settings for the best camera phones. One UI 5 may provide built-in special photo options such as Moon Mode and light pollution maps to reduce the effect of city lights on your low-light photography.

  • Sky Guide: Discover and identify stars and constellations in real-time.
  • Manual Control: Tweak settings for perfect shots, like ISO and exposure.
  • AI Enhancements: Use artificial intelligence to sharpen your images.

Maintaining Storage and Battery for Long Sessions

Processing power, storage space, and battery life are key to successful astrophotography. Ensure you’re prepared with enough storage space to save your RAW images and JPEG files without having to compromise your session. With One UI 5, managing your device’s resources can be efficient and intuitive, helping you keep track of your processing power and battery status so you can focus on capturing the night sky.

  • Storage: Free up space for high-quality image files.
  • Battery Management: Monitor and extend battery life for longer photo shoots.

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