Google Night Sight now available for Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, we test it out

14 November 2018
Rolling out as Camera update on the Google Play Store.

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Anonymous, 19 Nov 2018I use Camera FV-5 from Playstore. It gives me exposure bracketin... moreBracketing with a phone is too fussy for me, I need to keep the sets of 3s and 5s to merge them in front of my desk, and somehow from past experience the merge from PS wasn't as good as LR mobile's HDR DNG, the shadows weren't cleaner for example.

Nick Tagataka, 19 Nov 2018Sure, here's the comparison that I found on Youtube. https://ww... moreYou gave the exact same video as another guy a few weeks ago, and to that guy I already replied that the samples are far too small to draw conclusions. You just don't have enough resolution to compare texture and actual shadow retention, you're comparing 940x705 photos with video codec compression and a second youtube upload compression and Huawei could get away with a lot of shadow smearing which suggest insufficient DR rendered invisible with this severe compression. Know that downsampling(discounting the video compression at this stage) by definition improves (shadow) DR because it effectively introduces a different cutoff for the acceptable SNR captured. Think a good camera with a clean output of 24MP at say ISO3200, and a phone which is really really noisy at 24MP, ISO3200, if you downsample to 6MP, both would look cleaner at 1:1 zoom, but the camera's improvement would be negligible while the phone's would be much more obvious, you're burying the noise floor deeper. Further downsample to 1.5MP and the phone's output may look exactly as clean as the camera's, provided the same FoV and metering. And 940x750 isn't even anywhere near 1MP. That's why I keep saying low res video comparisons are meaningless gimmicks in the age of 10MP+ outputs. If phones still had ~1MP output then videos would suffice in most instances. If your argument is ultimately that night mode has a DR advantage over night sight *only at sub-1MP*, then I don't disagree, I haven't really looked into that.

Regarding pure highlights, I believe that GCam's night sight tends to expose to the right, preserving more shadow(again you need proper samples to actually assess that), but that may slightly sacrifice highlights. This is largely agreeing with you but I stress that I see a far bigger shadow advantage than highlight disadvantage.

I'm not really gonna go into too many specific details of that video because of the fundamentally flawed methodology, I looked for a sample pack of OOCJPGs, in case he's smart enough to include one, but no there isn't one.

"since it's based on a single exposure" I'm not really getting that, base what on a single exposure? I've seen no indication whatsoever in my experiences with the GCam that it prioritizes one exposure over others for anything other than the framing. Huawei does not do a "multi-exposure HDR" in the sense of bracketing, and even in this line of argument bracketing should only improve shadows(where it doesn't have an advantage), not highlights(where it sometimes has an advantage). Huawei's night mode has been shown in many instances--and I believe we've gone over this before--to generate artifacts of moving objects with the exact same exposure. Each artifact is identically exposed, indicating that each global exposure containing them is also identical, therefore Huawei's night mode also "captures multiple underexposed images, merge them together and lifts up the shadows", just like what you said about GCam's night sight.

The blue tint around highlights should be residual artifacts from vibrations and differences in framing during exposure, you're right that I haven't seen this in Huawei's samples but then Huawei has many other artifacts. I haven't seen those in XS samples either but I've noticed that SmartHDR handles movement artifacts exceedingly well in general, the main reason it could be left on permanently to replace a regular single exposure. OTOH LR's HDRDNG is highly prone to generating this same type of artifact.

  • Anonymous

S Yu, 18 Nov 2018You answered that guy for me so I won't bother:) About your o... moreI use Camera FV-5 from Playstore. It gives me exposure bracketing options to get the best dynamic range. In the app, you can set an EV range of up to 4 stops and it can take 3 or 5 frames in succession and save them in 'DNG + jpeg' format with a single tap on the screen. You just hold the camera as still as you can while it's taking the 3-5 bracketed frames. The 3-5 DNG files can then be blended for excellent dynamic range and detail retention in post. Not sure if the Pixel 3 supports the app though.

S Yu, 18 Nov 2018I'm curious where it is you've seen higher DR from night mode an... moreSure, here's the comparison that I found on Youtube.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxei2boZv_U

If you pause at 3:16, you can notice right away that Mate 20 Pro brings out more details out of the background while restraining the light coming from the street lamp better than Pixel 3 XL. 3:23 tells you the same story, better highlight management and more colour information preserved on the right side of the frame on Mate. At 4:07, the photos from both devices look almost identical in terms of exposure, but highlights are again slightly better maintained on Mate(Pixel blows out "IDEA" and turns it white)

They were all handheld samples, but when you mount them on a tripod as he did in the beginning of the video the difference becomes even more stark. Take a look at the water reflection at 1:05 for instance, in this scene Pixel boosts contrast and color saturation way too high, resulting in lost information shadows and slightly overexposed highlights. 1:15 shows really similar result: lights from the windows of the buildings are less blown up on Mate, and it also reveals more of the underside of the bridge in the water reflection compared to Pixel. Or look at the building(library?) in 1:32, you can notice right away which phone captures wider dynamic range. Crops at 2:26 and 2:32 say the same.
Now, there are a few instances where Pixel does better than Mate in terms of dynamic range, 1:11 and 3:33 for example. Other than those I listed above I would say they are pretty much tie exposure wise.

This is all due to how their algorithms work. Technically HDR+ just can't have wider dynamic range than multi-exposure HDR that Huawei phones, or even iPhone uses in this regard. HDR+ captures multiple underexposed images, merge them together and lifts up the shadows, but since it's based on a single exposure, the dynamic range is rather limited compared to proper HDR algorithms. Night Sight does essentially the same as HDR+ except it chooses higher exposure value most of the time to brighten up the whole scene, resulting in more overexposed light sources than the regular HDR+ especially in higher ISO. Night Mode captures 5 to 15 exposures to create single well-exposed image so it will have an edge in dynamic range, but of course not always, and that's also why it performs even better in tripod where it can stack as many frames as it wants.

By the way, blue tint in the highlights on Pixel's photos is the artifacts that is unique to Google's HDR+.. in fact not only Huawei phones but also neither of iPhone XS or Note 9 shows such a colour cast around light sources.

Nick Tagataka, 16 Nov 2018Looking through all the comments on various websites, I think we... moreI'm curious where it is you've seen higher DR from night mode and actual shadow advantage? Link with OOC samples please? You should know better than to take people for their word without seeing their original samples right?
I haven't seen any of that at Anandtech, highlight DR is largely on par(the perceived difference in some instances is from pulling highlight areas which weren't actually blown in the first place, just close enough to give laymen the wrong idea), while night sight exposes to the right relative to night mode anyway. In shadows I saw a pretty clear advantage on night sight's side due to far more shadows retained while night mode leaves poorly rendered shadows with too much pitch black.
https://images.anandtech.com/galleries/6733/H_Ma­te20Pro_IMG_20181023_214137.jpg
https://images.anandtech.com/galleries/6733/G_Pi­xel3_IMG_20181023_214602.jpg
Typical example, most of the tree may seem blown in the Pixel sample at a glance, but on closer inspection the central area of pure white, the area actually blown, is basically the same, you can go dig in Anandtech's comments of the Pixel3 review for the analysis using LR I conducted. As for any shadow across the scene, the dirt, the shrubs to the left, the trees in the back to the right, night sight scores clear wins, also for the midtones. Especially for the texture of the dirt and stone tiles, they look so good on the night sight shot it doesn't even look like it was shot at night.

Anonymous, 15 Nov 2018For a smartphone camera used in AUTO MODE, those are the most de... moreYou answered that guy for me so I won't bother:)

About your other comments, I'm using a GCam port and I have to say I'm using it more often than the default camera despite the availability of pro mode. Although there are more options like ISO and manual focus, I find the advantage of a single RAW output from a 1/2.55" insufficient to justify using pro mode instead of GCam. A single RAW has pretty weak DR and a slightly strong push of about 1.5 stops on even a base ISO file is enough to bring out a lot of shadow noise, and it doesn't stand well to NR, and frankly the default camera isn't ever gonna get me GCam's highlight DR no matter what I do. OTOH GCam set to max 20/24 exposures gives me a semi-RAW retaining a lot of DR somewhat like s-log in video, only with a strange HDR mapping added. But what additional highlight DR(sometimes it retains too much) I don't need I can expel in Snapseed by the ambience and highlight sliders, while noise performance of the stack is much better than a single RAW, it also retains matching detail to the RAW in most cases. Although GCam has a tendency to compress shadows into black sometimes, I could add a stop though the slider during capture to compensate, if necessary.
The only solution I find superior than GCam in terms of image quality is LR's HDR DNG, that's basically APS-C RAW quality, but you need to have a really really steady hand for that, and it doesn't work in low light of any kind, unlike a real APS-C, or even phone solutions. Ironically it has fewer settings available than both GCam and the default camera.

I'm actually more excited about that Pixel 3 Lite or whatever they will call it. Pixel 3X, maybe?

If it has the same camera and is only $500, I'd consider it. No glass backs. Has headphone jack. Just hope that midrange SoC ages well enough and the gap between it and the 845 isn't so drastic.

Shui8, 15 Nov 2018Of course its an impressive feat, u can deny it, but a technolog... moreLooking through all the comments on various websites, I think we can all agree on 4 major points regarding the Huawei's Night Mode and Google's Night Sight that:

1. Night Mode captures higher dynamic range with less noise in shadows whereas Night Sight favours higher contrast and overexposed image
2. Night Sight captures fine details that Night Mode demolishes through unnecessarily strong NR
3. Night Mode is more user friendly because the effect is shown in real-time and you can stop shooting whenever you feel the photo is becoming too bright. Plus, there's a tripod mode and an optional manual mode for more flexible shooting style
4. Night Sight deals with moving objects better, impressively almost no ghosting effect

It's so irritating you can't get the best of both worlds though, and what's even more annoying is that there's no option for raw output on either of these modes. Both Pixel 3 and Mate 20 Pro support raw output in the stock camera app so this should be totally possible, but both companies removed the option specifically in their respective low-light mode.
Now, I can understand why Google decided to do so, since the Google's AI color correction cannot be applied to raw images so they will look really dull, but there's absolutely no reason for Huawei not to add a toggle for raw, or even a toggle for reduced post-processing in the camera app. They are being a bit lazy tbh.

Anonymous, 15 Nov 2018GSMA try to feature nokia 3315 with DOTAWhat are you talking about?

  • Anonymous

Anonymous, 15 Nov 2018Seriously, I don't find those shots amazing at all. Yes, the pho... moreFor a smartphone camera used in AUTO MODE, those are the most detailed low light/night shots I've seen here in Gsmarena. All the rest (Samsung Note 9, P20 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, XZ2 Premium, iPhone XS Max, etc.) tend to produce lots more blotchiness/water color like, oversmooth, oversharpened images devoid of detail when used in their auto mode or in their special 'night modes'. The Pixel 3 XL's Night Sight is clearly superior to the rest mentioned in terms of detail retention in low light.

HOWEVER, I would still recommend all those other smartphones (except the iPhone XS Max) over the Pixel 3 XL due to availability of manual mode/manual camera settings which will make you capture better images than the Pixel 3 XL (assuming you know your way around manual mode), plus the fact that the competition have a lot more extensive feature set (dual/triple cameras, micro sd card expansion, bigger batteries, dual sim, headphone jack, etc.). So yes, I'm giving credit to the Pixel 3 XL's Night Sight where it's due: it's superior bar none in AUTO MODE under low light - but still, I won't recommend buying the Pixel 3XL over the others (except the iPhone XS Max) unless you are an 'auto mode'-only shooter and don't care about its crippled feature set.

  • Anonymous

S Yu, 15 Nov 2018Huawei pulls highlights more but that doesn't mean higher DR cap... moreSeriously, I don't find those shots amazing at all. Yes, the photos look much brighter than the original scenes, but street lights are really over-exposing. It should have compared against Huawei Night mode to see the differences.

  • Anonymous

Not bad for a smartphone camera. Less watercolor appearance and blotchiness, a bit more detail than the competition in low light (P20 Pro, XZ2 Premium, Note 9, Mate 20), but a lot more noise too. Good enough for mobile screens but still horrible compared to a dSLR with a large aperture prime.

  • Anonymous

Shui8, 15 Nov 2018Of course its an impressive feat, u can deny it, but a technolog... moretry okitel 69

  • Anonymous

Walter C. Dornez, 14 Nov 2018Or even the new Nokia phones which are solid for the price. They... moreGSMA try to feature nokia 3315 with DOTA

S Yu, 15 Nov 2018Camera DSPs are far more primitive than smartphone DSPs, not to ... moreOf course its an impressive feat, u can deny it, but a technologies from camera to smartphone camera are always welcomed, no matter what. Most of reviewer praise about it, its a plus. Of course u cant compare it to the big sensor on dslr/digital camera has.

About Huawei's Night Mod, yes the combination of high NR & sharpness on it makes it fall behind the impressive Pixel's camera algorithm. But u cant fight that flexibility & versatility of having 3 camera sensor instead of one. Every sensor has its own purpose. Judging by the many bugs & problems emerge from Pixel 3 lately, a great single camera wont save it.

I do respect your opinion about it, but i got mine. Do checkout this 2 person professional photographer using Mate 20 pro on instagram.

- kwasnikpictures
- photo_by_richard

Shui8, 15 Nov 2018This is smartphone arena conversation. What i mean is on Xperia.... moreCamera DSPs are far more primitive than smartphone DSPs, not to mention a camera 6 years old, you talk about night mode like it's some sort of impressive technological feat, not at all, chances are most brands didn't realize the amount of smearing introduced by the crude stacking Huawei used is acceptable even by mass consumer standards.

You know the difference??
Sony achieves better low light images by relying on its hardware. All the bright and clear images of the XZ2 Premium are all natural, unlike Huawei and Google's long-exposure + multi-frame image stacking technique.
I'm sure when the XZ2 Premium's High Sensitivity capabilities is combined with Night Sight, no other phone would even come close to it.

S Yu, 15 Nov 2018You need to stop spreading falsities kissing your Huawei's ***. ... moreThis is smartphone arena conversation. What i mean is on Xperia. Does it have it? Exactly, nope. U better calm your horses.

Whackcar, 14 Nov 2018To those wondering about the difference between Google Night Sig... moreLaughable comparison, whatever you've been shown in that video was shown to you at sub-1080P resolutions, so somewhere south of 2MP(native video resolution and 2x compression loss due to 1.lossy video codec 2.youtube compression). Huawei supposedly captures 10MP and Pixel 12. Huawei's intense NR+sharpening yields results that look clean at severely compressed resolutions, while Pixel's reasonable processing retains much more actual detail, so Pixel delivers most of that 12 while Huawei delivers, for the P20P about 3.5MP, I'm not sure about the Mate but it can't be much higher because for the most part its low light performance regressed. And frankly the DR can't be judged at that video's resolution because the overexposed areas are too small to compare, also you can't tell shadow retention from that either, without shadow you don't know if it's actually a difference in DR or just metering.
Anandtech's highly comprehensive set of actual, original, OOCJPG samples yield the opposite conclusion to your video.

Shui8, 15 Nov 2018That Sony night shot is a normal long exposure which require a t... moreYou need to stop spreading falsities kissing your Huawei's ***. Sony's original implementation was called multi frame NR and was available since RX100. It works handheld and is still available for all models with Playmemories support.