Google teased a new Night Mode feature, called Night Vision, during the launch of the Pixel 3 (Review), which promised seemingly huge improvements in low-quality photography. Now, the company is officially rolling this feature for any range of pixel smart phones. Unofficially, & # 39; night vision & # 39; Has been in nature for several weeks, and a member of the XDA developer forums has been able to modify the Google Camera app to enable it on any Pixel smartphone. Since then, we also have ports for OnePlus 6 (review) and OnePlus 6T (review) and only recently, we also have ports for Xiaomi's Poco F1 (review) as well as Xiaomi Mi 8.
In this article, we'll have a deep dive into how the night works, how the results look, and how you can get it on the Google Pixel smartphone.
What is night vision and how does it work?
The main mode of night shooting shots is to reduce noise and improve details in shot images in dark environments. In traditional photography, the simplest way to achieve this is by using a slower shutter so that the image sensor can take more light. However, without a tripod, motion blur can be a big problem if you (or even the subject) move (s) even slightly. This technique on the smartphone can yield disastrous results, since these are almost always used as handheld.
Night Night for Camera
When you see the night vision in action, it looks like a pure magician. In fact, it works on the basis of computational photography and some learning machine. According to a blog post from Google, the main challenge the company is dealing with is to get the alignment of all objects in the right frame, since Night Night actually using an average frame technique, such as HDR + and Super Res Zoom. Pixel and pixel 2 use a modified version of the HDR + algorithm for night, while Pixel 3 uses an improved version of the new Super Res Zoom algorithm to provide similar results.
From the moment you press the shutter button in Night mode, the camera captures a series of frames in a quick sequence. The number of frames captured really depends on the amount of light available and whether you are using a handheld phone or a tripod. It can be anywhere from 6 to 15 frames. Pixel 3 and pixel 2 (review) have the advantage of being able to handle longer exposures per frame, since they have Optical Stabilization (OIS) to compensate for shakes, but the original Pixel Resort offers shorter exposures that is missing OIS.
Some things are worth pointing at this point – it takes a few seconds until the camera finishes capturing all the frames, during which period, you'll still have to. If you move, or move your subject, these frames are either discarded or your subject may have slight blur movement in the final image.
After taking a picture, it is processed further in the background to correct the white balance and exposure level. Google says it has developed a white-based automated learning-based algorithm, which has been trained on pixel 3. So when comparing images taken with Night Sight in all phones, the images of a 3 pixel are generally better at balancing. Google itself admits that this algorithm will provide the best results on a 3 pixel. The company has also tweaked its tone and mapping techniques to hit the right balance between giving you a well lit image and staying true to the actual hour of the day.
How To Get Night Vision Now – And Does It Really Make A Difference?
If you have a Pixel smartphone, you'll soon see an update for the pending Google Camera app in the Play Store. If it is not yet there, be patient, as Google rolls this update in stages, then you should get it in the end.
After updating your app & # 39; Google Camera & # 39;, open it and go to the & # 39; More & # 39; tab, where you'll see & # 39; night vision & # 39 ;. If you shoot in auto mode and your environment are very dim, you will see a little prompt in the viewfinder to Try night vision.
Feature a flash overnight in action on a 3 x pixel
Taking pictures is quite simple. All you do is point the camera on your subject, press the shutter button and hold still until the process is done. You can – if you want – set a timer for three or 10 seconds to start a countdown to a shot, and an exclusive on a 3 pixel series is the ability to manually set the focus. The latter feature is only needed if you shoot in the dark pitch and the camera is unable to lock focus. & # 39; Close & # 39; Forces the camera to focus around 1.22m, while Far & # 39; Focusing on 3.66 meters or more.
For our test shots view, we first tried Google Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 2 XL, and the original pixel with a reasonable amount of light around. All three generations of phones did decent work with detail, but there was still quite a lot of noise visible in the sky, and the objects in the shadows were not clearly visible. With night vision, the noise was drastically reduced, giving us much cleaner images. The colors and details of distant objects were much more defined, and we could see much more in the shadows.
Test a view, shot with (below) and without (above) night vision
In our near-test results, you'll see that our subject is barely visible when you're shooting in auto mode. In fact, this is more or less what we saw with naked eyes. But with night mirrors, it's like someone turned on the lights. The colors, details and clarity of the images have drastically improved, with excellent focus and blurring of the background too.
Close-up test, with (below) and without (above) night vision
Night Sights also works for selfie cameras of pixel phones. Here, you can also allow to fill in lighting if it's too dark to shoot. For this test we stood in almost total darkness, and the only light came from the buildings opposite us and a little from the door behind us. As expected, none of the phones failed to capture something worth sharing when used in automatic mode, but with night vision, the difference was massive. The image quality has even better when we turned on lighting fillers for night vision.
Self-examination, with (below) and without (above) night sights
Based on what we've seen so far, the night look seems to be a game changer, and it pretty much kills the need for LED flash on the phone for shooting in many situations. There are some limitations on this feature, for example, it is not very effective in the dark pitch, and it is best used on subjects yet.
It's nice to see Google adds this feature to its old pixel phones too, but what we really liked is for the company to open it for OEMs to integrate their camera applications. This is done with Google lenses and AR stickers, so why not overnight see?
Will the Google Pixel Night show the future of low light photography ?? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly podcast technology, where you can subscribe using Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or simply click the play button below.