When Google announced the Pixel 3, it showcased a new photo mode called Night Sight. It didn't launch with the new devices, but it is now being pushed out to the Pixel to change the way that you take photos in low light.

Here's everything you need to know about Night Sight and how it works.

What phones are getting Night Sight?

The good news is that isn't a technology that's limited to the latest Pixel handsets. Google is being pretty generous and making Night Sight a feature for all the Pixel phones:

  • Pixel
  • Pixel XL
  • Pixel 2
  • Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 3
  • Pixel 3 XL 

The best part of this news is that Night Sight will work on both the front and back cameras, so you should be able to get some great selfies as well. 

When will I get Night Sight on my Pixel?

Google has confirmed that the update is rolling out from 14 November. There are no specific times or dates for the update to arrive, but there will be a small update to the Camera app - and then Night Sight will work. In the UK, we now have the update that arrived on 16 November.

How does Night Sight work? 

Google says that Night Sight relies on AI and machine learning to give you results that you normally wouldn't be able to achieve without a tripod and a DSLR camera.

The technology itself is actually very similar to that on the Huawei P20 and Mate 20 phones, using multiple shots and combining them, with AI working to make sure that the colour stays in balance and that shake is kept to a minimum.

Here's what's happening: 

1. Night Sight detects motion

Night Sight detects motion both in terms of handshake and movement in the scene. Motion is a problem for long exposures because it causes blur. By detecting the motion before the photo is taken, Night Sight can optimise the capture process to reduce blur and give you a sharp photo.

If the phone is steady, it can use a longer exposure, to get more light in without the worry about blur. If there's more shake or movement, it will use more shorter exposures and then merge the results to minimise the effects of any motion. Merging photos is part of the magic here, as it allows snaps at different settings to pick out information and contribute it to the final image.

All this is automatic - all you have to do is press the button and you get your photo, but you do need to keep the phone steady while this is happening for the best results. 

2. Night Sight uses AI to rebalance colour

Night or low light photos often don't look anything like the actual scene - often they turn yellow or red, taking on a warm cast which doesn't look natural. 

This is where machine learning comes in, as it has learnt what things should look like, so can aim to give you a photo that looks realistic - and no just like a poor low light smartphone snap. Google says that the aim is to have to photo that looks like what you see with your eyes. 

Once both these processes have happened, you should have a night photo that actually looks good, rather than a blurry mess.

How to use Night Sight 

When you open the camera on your Pixel in lower light conditions, you'll get a little notification on the viewfinder asking if you want to use Night Sight. You can tap this to go directly to Night Sight. 

GoogleWhat Is Night Sight image 2

Or you'll be able to find Night Sight in the shooting modes in your Pixel camera in the "more" section. Once you're in Night Sight mode, you just have to press the shutter button and it begins the capture, which will take a few seconds. 

If it's quite dark, you might need to tap to focus and you'll normally need to find something that gives some contrast so the camera can snap into focus.

Night Sight sample photos 

Google has suggested you share your own Night Photos with #teampixel #nightsight on social media and has shared some of its own photos.

We've included some of Google's sample images here - but we'll be fully testing Night Sight once we have the final update and updating our Pixel reviews as well as adding more details here.

1/7Google