Google's new Night Sight camera mode is faster than other 'night' modes

Google's new Night Sight camera mode is faster than other 'night' modes
When Google announced the Night Sight mode that will come together with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL camera apps, the sample shot it took looked much brighter than the reference one taken with the iPhone XS. That's an end result similar to other such modes, like the "Night" one on Huawei phones like the P20 Pro or the new Mate 20 Pro

They keep the shutter open for longer, and take consecutive photos that are collated by the software afterward to brighten up shadowy areas, and reduce blur or glare from highlights like lamps or neon signs. On the P20 Pro or Mate 20 Pro, the whole "night shot" ordeal takes about four seconds, during which you have to hold the phone rather steady to get a good result.

We installed the new Google Camera app port that has Night Sight enabled (courtesy of the enterprising XDA-Devs crowd) on the Pixel 2 XL, and, while you still have to wait a bit for the shot, it does everything roughly twice faster than Huawei's night mode, for instance, which was perhaps the best example of what this trick can do so far. This leads us to the thought that Google employs some different software wizardry to achieve the Night Sight results, and are pleased to see that we don't have to keep both object and phone as steady. 

As for the quality of the Night Sight shots themselves, we'll spare an opinion for when Google officially rolls this out to the Pixel series, but for now, the results look no less promising than what similar "night" modes are able to produce, just the speed of picture-taking feels way faster. 

It literally goes like this.

Instead of this.

Related phones

Pixel 3 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 2960 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 845, Octa-core, 2500 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3430 mAh



1. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Can you do a comparison showing samples from both phones?

2. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Once it rolls out officially with the Pixel 3 series... otherwise it's still a port on an older Pixel 2 XL, so it won't be fair to compare what could be a pre-release software on hardware that is not originally meant for it.

3. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

That's true. Well, hopefully everyone implements this feature, it super useful in low light situations. On the Pixel, does it have the option to adjust the shutter speed, colors, and the ISO like on Huawei phones?

6. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Lol, most likely no. If you want any other features whatsoever aside picture quality then the pixel is certainly a no-show. You'd be better off looking at Huawei, LG and maybe... Samsung for more professional and experimental touches/add-ons.

8. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

There is truth behind your comment, but what's great about Pixel phones is that you don't need a pro mode to get great pictures. But yeah, it would be cool if the camera app was more versatile.

4. Bankz

Posts: 2550; Member since: Apr 08, 2016

Would love to see a video of this tbh

12. franzfifty

Posts: 36; Member since: Feb 01, 2018

i installed it on the Pixel 2 XL and it works depending on the available light. In the example of the article, there seems to be still quite a lot of light and the processing is quite fast. Now take a picture in a rather dark environment and it will take - at least on the Pixel 2 XL - also around 4 seconds. But what a difference i makes!

15. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

So, basically it's like night mode on Huawei phones. Because the same happens on my P20 Pro, the more light there is, the faster it is in taking a picture, and vise versa.

5. worldpeace

Posts: 3135; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

He already said the result are similar. Lets just wait for Pixel 3's sample for the real deal.

7. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

I realize that, but I'm interested in seeing the results. But no harm in waiting for it's official release.

11. danny_a2005

Posts: 365; Member since: Oct 06, 2011

So now it's innovative right?

16. maherk

Posts: 7029; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

Nope, it's not innovation when it has been done before :)

21. bassembm

Posts: 143; Member since: Dec 27, 2015

maherk , he is talking about the results ,, the results are innovative


Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

I can't wait to download the new Google camera app on my other phones. With this, I just see no reason to pay Google that much money for a Pixel phone.

9. AfterShock

Posts: 4147; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

On Reddit, the night sight camera examples are mind blowing. There's no competition to Google's camera software, it's not even close.

10. BamaBoi89

Posts: 29; Member since: Jan 06, 2015

Downloaded this on my pixel 3 xl. Took some night shots last night and dynamic range on clouds were pretty good...It does take a bit longer in dark to process but not by much

13. franzfifty

Posts: 36; Member since: Feb 01, 2018

exactly. the processing time depends on the available light. Not sure how the focussing works on the Pixel 3, but on the Pixel 2 XL focussing in nearly dark environments is very difficult, therefore some pictures might come out blurred, but that might happen. if you have a light source and focus on that one, the results are really incredible.

14. franzfifty

Posts: 36; Member since: Feb 01, 2018

If there's lots of interest, i can create a public Google Photos Album showing differences of the pictures between normal HDR+ and Night Mode on the Pixel 2 XL.

18. BamaBoi89

Posts: 29; Member since: Jan 06, 2015

sitting the phone on something and just hitting the shutter button made a huge difference...didnt think about getting my tripod last night but i will tonight. if the official mode can do better than this people will be impressed

17. Ellio74

Posts: 74; Member since: Mar 22, 2018

From the samples that I've seen, that's another night mode that does too much... Doesn't look natural.

20. Techbuff

Posts: 3; Member since: Aug 13, 2018

How well does it work with moving subjects?

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