‘Night Sight’ update for Google Phones
GOOGLE has introduced Night Sight: a low-light shooting mode for users of Pixel phones. Available as a free update to the camera app, it allows long exposures of up to six seconds to be taken handheld.
Normally, handheld long exposures end up unusably blurred, as it’s impossible to hold the camera sufficiently still. Google’s Night Sight circumvents this by taking a series of shorter exposures, then aligning and blending them together to make the final image. In principle, the final result will be brighter, sharper and more detailed than any individual frame. This is similar to the Night Mode that’s available with certain Huawei phones, including the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro.
A Motion Exposure Control algorithm decides the total exposure time and the individual frames, based on how much subject movement and hand shake it detects. The device then blends the raw data from up to 15 frames, each with a shutter speed ranging from 1/60sec to 1sec, to give final exposures totalling 1/4sec to 6sec. For the blending process, the image is divided into tiles, which allows moving subjects to be recorded without ghosting or blur. This is all fully automatic, and requires no user intervention.
When you point the camera at a low-light scene, the device will automatically suggest using Night Sight; alternatively, it can be engaged manually from within the camera app. When Night Sight is engaged, the shutter button shows a moon icon. In keeping with Google’s point-and-shoot philosophy, the mode is fully automatic: the only available options are a self-timer (3 or 10sec), and the option to select between autofocus or distance presets labelled ‘Near’ and ‘Far’.
Isaac Reynolds, Google’s product manager for the Pixel phone, offered some insights into how Night Sight works. The impressive colour output is attributable to an entirely new auto white balance algorithm that’s based on machine learning. Rather than trying to detect the lighting type and engage a suitable preset, it has been trained to analyse a scene and output the correct colour balance directly.
The update is available now; find out more on our website at bit.ly/nightsightdetail.
In Google Pixel’s Night Sight mode, a series of short exposures are aligned and blended together to create a final image
With Night Sight, you can take up to six-second-long exposures handheld