When Night Sight Camera Mode of Google was reviewed, for Pixel headsets, one area where it seemed likely to struggle was with moving subjects. Night Sight works by taking a series of exposures over the course of up to six seconds and then combining them for a brighter, cleaner image than would otherwise possible. Those exposures are usually long enough to turn fast-moving things like cars into blurs, and the conclusion then was that Night Sight needs more or less stationary subjects to be effective.
Google’s camera system is smart enough to detect motion in the frame and it responds by reducing the time of each Night Sight exposure. Even with lightning-fast exposures, though, merely splicing them together would result in a mess, as neither the people nor the lights in the club were ever still. It seems that the camera is picking a key frame for an object or person’s position and then working around that. Huawei’s P20 Pro night mode did a similar thing last year, albeit to a less dramatic effect.
Stretching these photos out onto a 32-inch 4K monitor at home quickly exposes their graininess and lack of sharpness, so they’re far from perfect, but that doesn’t detract from the achievement here. The ability to capture those spotlights and retain their color is shockingly impressive and a new benchmark for smartphone photography. Going into 2019, most phone companies will be touting 5G capabilities, new notchless screens, and other peripheral niceties, but the thing that will make the best ones truly stand out will once again be the camera. feel encouraged about the prospects for improvement on that front, as Samsung is rumored to be preparing its own version of Night Sight, Huawei will have another year of refining its own night mode, and smaller players like OnePlus are also richly aware of the need to step up their imaging game.