The future of flash is looking bleak. Announced in tandem with the new Google Pixel 3 lineup, Night Sight—the tech giant’s low-light photography setting that captures vivid images in the darkest of scenes—is absolutely eye-catching.
The Pixel line was already known for its powerhouse of a camera, but Night Sight increases its utility by cutting through darkness without the violent zap of a flash. I was lucky enough to test it out in the ideal venue—a very dark place.
Here’s a brief primer on Night Sight, with my mediocre photography skills serving as a guide.
How It Works
Night Sight works by cutting out the noise. It functions according to how much motion is in the frame, so if you’ve got a shaky hand while taking a picture of your dog chasing its tail, Night Sight uses short exposures to capture less light and blurriness. If the scene is calm and tranquil, Night Sight will spend a longer time snapping the photo, absorbing all the light available.
The idea here is to mitigate the blurriness of long-exposure photography. Instead of using a slow shutter speed to harness more light while obscuring the unimportant parts of a scene, Night Sight uses machine learning to adapt to its environs. If something in the frame is moving, the software takes a burst of short-exposure photos and melds them together, capturing an equal amount of light in one image.
The results make dark things visible, as evidenced by this otherwise hidden bench:
And this owl:
And my face:
And this spread of fake food:
And last but not least, this wall:
How To Use Night Sight
Since Google made Night Sight available to all Pixel users through its latest camera update, activating the feature is easy: When taking a photo of something dark, the photo app will automatically prompt you to use Night Sight.
If Pixel doesn’t do it for you, just tap the “more” icon above the shutter button and Night Sight will be there, showcased by a half-moon icon. Tap that to manually equip your phone with night-vision goggles.
You’d be wise to heed some pro tips before embarking on a low-light photo binge:
- Always hold your hand steady. Night Sight even tells you as much with a “hold still” warning while in use. Propping your device on a flat surface is always a good shout.
- Tell your friends to hold still while taking a photo. The whole purpose is to absorb limited light—moving around makes that process more difficult.
- Don’t take photos in complete darkness. You still need some light for a photo to exist.
So enjoy Night Sight, just try to avoid bumping into anything dangerous while hunting down great photos in the dark.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics