If you’ve ever tried to take a smartphone picture in a restaurant, a bar or at a wedding reception—almost any place with a roof and walls—then you know that low lighting has a way of muting the detail and color in a room. The resulting photos are sometimes filled with blurred lines and fuzzy figures.
I am by no means a pro when it comes to photography, but luckily, I’m related to one. My brother Greg is a whiz with a camera, and he told me about a beer-bottle trick to take blur-free, low-light photos in a pinch when a tripod isn’t handy: Rest the phone on top of a beer bottle or a wine glass to keep it steady while the camera does its work.
Beer bottles aside, a surefire way to guarantee great photos in low light is using a smartphone with a camera that performs well in the warm glow of Aunt Ethel’s dining room.
My top picks? Definitely the LG G4™ and the Samsung Galaxy S® 6. Both sport a 16-megapixel rear camera with Optical Image Stabilization software that helps you take clear, sharp pictures, even when your hand is moving.
The G4 also offers a laser-guided autofocus sensor designed to improve clarity and an automatic HDR (or High Dynamic Range) mode that brightens the shot using multiple exposures. And, best of all, it has an f/1.8 aperture lens, which lets more light into the camera’s sensor.
The Galaxy S 6 gives you plenty of pro settings to get your picture just right, and HDR. Just remember to turn it on and get the settings right before it’s time to take the shot.
So go right ahead and snap that shot of your meal inside the café or the portrait of your pals huddled around the banquet table in the wedding hall. There’s no reason to fear the dark when you own the right phone. If you really want to up your low-light game, though, give that beer bottle trick a try too. At the very least, it’ll impress your friends.
Chris Raymond works in New York City. He writes about business, innovation and tech.