Google’s Night Sight feature on the Pixel 3 was truly jawdropping in terms of what it could accomplish, and we’ve since seen various other brands implement similar night modes on their phones to great effect, including this year’s iPhone 11. However, Google took things up a notch with the Pixel 4, introducing a dedicated astrophotography mode for capturing the night sky.
Long Exposure Times
As the company mentioned on stage at the pixel 4’s launch, astrophotography requires long exposures and a steady frame, so you’ll need a tripod, or at least a surface to rest the phone on. In fact, Google increased the maximum exposure time to four minutes on the pixel 4, up from just one minute on the pixel 3 and 3a.
Ultimately, the goal of longer exposure times is to produce a cleaner and higher quality image by letting more light reach the image sensor.
However, long exposure times also make it easier to introduce blur, usually a result of movement in the scene being photographed or unsteadiness of the camera itself. To get around this, Night Sight splits the exposure into multiple frames with shorter exposure times. The frames are then aligned to compensate for both camera shake and in-scene motion and averaged. So while individual frames may look grainy, the combined, averaged image will look a lot cleaner.
Reducing Motion Blur
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