Google's new Night Sight feature for Pixel looks pretty impressive
Hot on the heels of the Pixel 3, Google have announced Night Sight, a new AI feature for the Pixel camera that helps capture vibrant and detailed low-light photos without a flash or tripod, and the results look pretty impressive.
According to Google, Night Sight is capable of taking sharp, clean photographs in very low light, even in light so dim you can hardly see with your own eyes.
"Before you press the shutter button, Night Sight measures your natural hand shake, as well as how much motion is in the scene. If Pixel is stable and the scene is still, Night Sight will spend more time capturing light to minimize noise; if Pixel is moving or there’s significant scene motion, Night Sight will use shorter exposures, capturing less light to minimize motion blur," the company writes.
This could mean as many as 15 frames of 1/15s each and up to 6 frames of 1 second each are captured in a burst. The software then aligns the frames, merges them to reduce image noise, performs auto white balancing using an AI algorithm, and does tone mapping for natural colors.
Google says their goal with Night Light was to allow for sharp images in light as low as 3 and 0.3 lux. The company says that by comparison, most smartphone cameras that take a single picture begin to struggle at 30 lux.
Phones that capture and merge several pictures (as HDR+ does) can do well down to 3 lux, but in dimmer scenes don’t perform well.
If your subject moves during the capture, Google says Night Sight can also adapt to prevent a 'modest' amount of motion from ruining the shot. Instead of capturing one bright and blurry photo, Night Sight captures an equal amount of light over a burst of many photos that are dark but sharp. By merging this burst, Night Sight prevents motion blur and brightens the photo, giving a bright and sharp photo.
Night Sight is currently being released through the Google Play store as an update to the camera app for the Pixel 3, Pixel 2, and Pixel 1. You can read more about the AI behind Night Sight at the Google blog.