Lowlight photography and DSLR-type ‘lossless’ zoom have always been the big stumbling blocks for smartphone cams. That’s changed dramatically over the last 12 months, as device manufacturers have used both hardware upgrades and software optimisation for better results in dim lighting conditions. From Google’s Night Sight mode to the f/1.5 aperture on the Samsung Galaxy S10+, we round up smartphone cams that are not afraid of the darkness.
Samsung Galaxy S10+ (Rs 73,900 onwards)
It was Samsung’s Galaxy S7 that pushed the needle forward for lowlight photography in 2016 with its much hyped ‘dual pixel’ cam. Three years later, the S10+ features a special Night Scene mode. All you have to do is activate the camera’s in-built Scene optimiser that can enhance up to 30 different types of images. This triple cam device shoots, saves and combines up to 17 shots into one Super Night Shot that captures incredible details in lowlight. Samsung’s dual aperture camera adjusts and optimises light even before you tap the shutter.
Huawei P30 Pro (Rs 71,990)
Huawei’s brand-new flagship rides heavily on its camera creds. It has two tricks up its sleeve. You can either shoot on normal mode where it cranks up the ISO or Night mode where it stitches together multiple images in a lower exposure that takes about five seconds to shoot each image. Co-engineered with Leica, this device features a quad camera setup that also incorporates a periscope design to deliver 10x of near-lossless zoom. This effectively means you can use the night mode even on subjects or objects that are at a distance.
Google Pixel 3 XL (Rs 61,990 onwards)
Back in 2018, Google elevated lowlight photography with ‘Night Sight’, it’s unique solution that plays out best on the Pixel 3XL. Google’s current flagship may not boast of multiple lenses, but achieves lowlight perfect with a bunch of optimisations and machine learning. Night Sight begins to work the second you accept the Pixel’s nudge to switch from regular photo mode and even before you hit the click button. Night Sight uses Motion Metering – Google speak for measuring your hand movements and the objects within your frame. It then determines the number of frames (that can sometimes take up to 6 seconds) to stack together for the perfect night shot.
OnePlus 6T (Rs 37,999 onwards)
Just like Google’s Night Sight, OnePlus’ 6T has its own Night Scape mode that alters lowlight images. While pro users know how to tweak ISO settings to improve results in dim lighting, Night Scape is an easier route for newbies. Just like the Night Mode on the Huawei P30 or the Pixel 3XL it works better for stationary objects or subjects. Night Scape isn’t quite in the same league as these devices but is a huge improvement for OnePlus that costs almost half as much as these smartphones.
(Ashwin Rajagopalan writes extensively on Gadgets & Trends, Travel & Lifestyle and Food & Drink. He owns and manages Brand Stories, a creative Content outfit and www.bytesize.in, a premier lifestyle blog with a focus on short-format content. Instagram: ‘ashwinpowers’)