What is “Night Sight”
Google’s new night sight camera mode was announced during Google’s hardware event on October 9th among many other announcements. As far back as the HTC One M7 I can remember device makers trying crazy tactics to capture more light where not even your eyes can perceive light. According to Wired Google takes a different approach. It takes 5 seconds of high exposure pictures, then works its HDR+ magic to stitch those pictures together and make something that honestly looks like magic. These pictures look as good as those sample images we got shown 5 years back.
A note to the reader though, this feature has not been officially released. I was able to test it through an apk I installed on my Pixel 1st generation from the nice people over at XDA. In the post they list compatible devices with this port so download and try at your own risk. It does not install over your device’s stock camera so you can always uninstall the app if you don’t want it. That being said, let’s get into the samples.
Night Sight Samples:
The first group of pictures I took were in the living room of my house at around 10pm. Most of the lights were out except my TV which was on way in the background.
You can see just how much light the camera was able to pull in the second picture. It’s incredible to think that this was accomplished with only software. You will need a very steady hand to pull this off, especially with the Pixel 1st generation. This is because the camera does not have Optical Image Stabilization, therefore it’s easier to get a blurry image. The picture I took isn’t too blurry, however if you’re outside with wind and people bumping into you, you may begin to see some blur.
These pictures were all taken at about 7am this morning in my house. I found these samples so interesting was comparing using flash, to using Night Sight. In the picture with flash you can see how bad the picture looks when you’re adding light from an external source. It looks fake and washed out. In the picture with Night Sight you can see light being pulled in from the window. Although you can’t see anything else in the room it’s amazing to compare it to the picture without the feature or flash were you probably didn’t even see a window there. The light coming in from the window also looks really nice and natural. It also doesn’t bleed into parts of the room it wouldn’t naturally reach.
In this picture I put a chandelier in the room on the lowest possible setting. When adding Night Sight you do get some added brightness, but it’s also amazing to see just how far the small amount of light extends. In the picture without the feature you can barely see my front door. With Night Sight you can see the entire living room, and the front door in the distance.
Night Sight is an amazing feature that can add a lot to mobile photography. It’s awesome to see just how much great software can enhance even older devices, not to mention make new devices even better. I’ll be curious to see if this feature gets better over time. I think Google is off to a really good start but we need to see if it gets better with the full release and over time. I just hope to see a day where people will never have to use the flash again.