Taking pictures in low-light situations has long been a challenge, especially on smartphone cameras. Google is changing that with Night Sight, a Pixel-exclusive feature that will absolutely blow your mind.
To avoid going into too much detail on how photography works and why it’s hard to take pictures when it’s dark, we’ll put it simply: good photographs require light. Period. When it’s dark, well, there isn’t a good amount of light available for the camera sensor.
The end result? A crappy, dark, and generally grainy photo. But with Night Sight, the Pixel camera is able to intelligently make those dark, grainy, and crappy photos less dark, grainy, and crappy. To be honest, it’s pretty damn incredible.
I tested out Night Sight with a modified version of the Pixel camera on my Pixel 2 XL a few weeks ago, here are a couple of comparison shots:
Top: Without Night Sight; Bottom: With Night Sight enabled
It does this by measuring certain aspects of the scene—like the amount of available light, the movement in your hand, and how much motion in the shot. And it does all of that before you take the picture. It uses this information to process how to capture the photo, adjusting exposure and burst photography on the fly.
It also uses machine learning to balance the colors of the photograph, leading to a more naturally lit picture—not a dark photo that looks like it’s had its brightness enhanced.
The end result is a balanced, natural, and honestly incredible looking shot that doesn’t require a bunch of additional processing (or even use of the flash). When it comes down to it, Night Sight is positively groundbreaking, not just for mobile photography, but photography in general.
The feature will be coming to all three generations of Pixel phones this week, and the phones will automatically suggest using Night Sight in situations where lighting is low enough for it to make sense. Google has full details on how to use the feature and some tips to make the most of it in the announcement blog post, which I highly recommend checking out.