Phone

So, about that Galaxy S10 Bright Night camera feature (it’s not that great)

Well, it looks like Samsung doesn’t have an answer to Google’s Night Sight feature on the Galaxy S10. It had been revealed through Samsung’s Android Pie firmware that the Galaxy S10 would come with a camera feature called Bright Night, and the name of the feature gave many hope that Samsung would finally have a competitor to Google’s acclaimed Night Sight camera mode or Huawei’s Night Mode, which let you take sharp and bright images in low-light conditions by using software wizardry.

What is Night Sight or Night Mode?

For the uninitiated, Google’s Night Sight and Huawei’s Night Mode increase light and detail in low-light conditions by using long exposures (keeping the camera shutter open longer to collect more light) and taking multiple images in quick succession, and then combining data from all of those images to produce the final picture. The technicalities are better explained in this The Verge article, but to put it simply, Night Sight and Night Mode are basically one-touch Pro modes for the average consumer.

On Samsung flagships, the camera’s Pro mode has long been an excellent tool for advanced users to play around with shutter speed, exposure and other camera parameters for taking better pictures in conditions where the auto camera mode doesn’t work that great. With Night Sight and Night Mode, once you switch to these modes, the device understands what it is you want to do and modifies the necessary camera parameters for you. All you need to do is hold the phone as still as possible for a few seconds.

Google also uses some advanced machine learning algorithms to increase the detail and light in pictures taken in the dark and in poor lighting. The end result is quite stunning, even if it sometimes looks a bit artificial, despite Pixel phones having pretty basic camera hardware compared to Samsung flagships. So when the existence of Bright Night was revealed, people were naturally quite excited, thinking that excellent camera hardware combined with software tricks would do wonders for low-light photos.

Bright Night isn’t as good as we had hoped

Samsung’s Dual Aperture lens and its F.1.5 aperture in particular could make all the difference, but that is not the case. First and foremost, Bright Night isn’t a camera mode that you can switch to on the Galaxy S10. Bright Night is an extension of Scene Optimizer, and it kicks in when Scene Optimizer detects that you are trying to capture something in the dark and then takes a long exposure shot for brighter images. However, there are two limitations with Bright Night.

Before we talk about those limitations, below is one scene taken with and without Bright Night (swipe left for Bright Night version, right for regular picture) for you to check out. Two more samples can be seen at the end of this article.

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Okay, so the first limitation is that the Galaxy S10 needs really, really dark environments to use Bright Night. So dark, in fact, that you’d be better off using the flash anyway, as you can see above. Since it’s not a camera mode, you also have to leave it to the phone to decide when Bright Night needs to be used. You can’t force it on, and you can’t force it off without disabling Scene Optimizer.

The second is that Samsung is not using any AI-enhanced trickery like Google. It does take multiple images with long exposure/shutter speed and combines them to create a brighter picture. It also detects how steady the camera is, taking seven images with 2-3-second exposure and combining those for the final image if the phone is in your hand. If you put the phone on a tripod, it can take up to 17 images with 15-second exposure for even brighter pictures.

But where Samsung is missing out is on whatever computational algorithms Google has going on with Night Shift. Huawei can’t completely match Google in this regard, either, as the internet giant has millions of photos from folks around the world on Google Photos that it uses to create those algorithms. Or, well, Samsung isn’t really trying, as Huawei’s Night Mode also does a great job at improving light and detail in pictures.

Useful for no-flash photos in the dark, but that’s about it

As a result, the Galaxy S10 doesn’t really take any meaningfully better shots with Bright Night. And at least one software update that Samsung released for the S10+ hasn’t improved things. So, for now, Bright Night is good enough if you don’t like using the flash, but it’s far from what Samsung needs it to be to come close to the competition.

Of course, that may not matter much to many users. Samsung’s flagship phones automatically take amazing pictures in pretty much every scenario, even in poorly lit environments with very few sources of light. And that’s all most folks will need in their day-to-day lives, although it would still be awesome to see Samsung making improvements to Bright Night to further enhance the capabilities of the Galaxy S10 cameras.

What do you think? Should Samsung have done better with Bright Night?

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  • Model: SM-G970F
  • Dimensions: 69.9 x 142.2 x 7.9mm
  • Display: 5.8” (146.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP, CMOS F1.5/F2.4 (77°) & 16MP, CMOS F2.2 (123°)Ultra Wide
  • Model: SM-G973F
  • Dimensions: 70.4 x 149.9 x 7.8mm
  • Display: 6.1"(157.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP.CMOS F2.4 45° Telephoto & 12MP F1.5 77° & 16MP F2.2 123° Ultra-wide
  • Model: SM-G975F
  • Dimensions: 74.1 x 157.6 x 7.8mm
  • Display: 6.4"(162.5mm) Super AMOLED
  • CPU: Exynos 9820 Octa
  • Camera: 12 MP.CMOS F2.4 45° Telephoto & 12MP F1.5/F2.4 77° & 16MP F2.2 123° Ultra-wide

26 Comments

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Dcdaniel
Dcdaniel

I most admit this was the biggest let down of this device, huawai does a really close version of what Google achieves, yet samsung ones again lack the software expertise to really take advantage of its hardware.

zorglub54
zorglub54

If this is the result, one word : bad…

arnes_king
arnes_king

This is not the bright night feature. Some developers have managed to enable the “Night” mode directly in the Note 9 camera app but it is not functional as it still needs an update to work.

The “night” mode from the scene optimizer is only there until the final “night” mode comes with an update.

Emraan100
Emraan100

I’m happy with my S9 plus..

ginescarp
ginescarp

Who asked?

Emraan100
Emraan100

Me and myself bro.. Take a chill pill..

SWIZZBEATZ
SWIZZBEATZ

Same here bro. It doesnt make the best pictures but besides of that it’s a great phone. I am not going to upgrade this year.

PookiePrancer
PookiePrancer

Lighting is one of the most important things to master for good photography. Not sure what this rush to take pictures in pitch black is all about. Some of the stuff coming out of the Pixel 3 is so overdone, it doesn’t even look real any more.

Bobbingalong
Bobbingalong

Definitely not as good as the pixel or even the mate pro 20.

maherk22
maherk22

And I will add that their AI is dumb as F. It barely notices that I’m in low light conditions and almost never turns on the bright night shot feature. I was hoping Samsung would give us a dedicated night mode/sight like Huawei and Google, but I guess they’ll saving that feature for the S11. So far, I am loving my S10+, but the lack of a true night mode is quite a bummer for me.

locarno
locarno

Keep calm. They will improve it with later updates. I’m sure.

maherk22
maherk22

I have no doubt that they’ll improve the bright night shot feature, I’m just saying that I wish we had a dedicated mode for it.

Hambone01
Hambone01

Who actually takes super low light photos other than trying to test it?

maherk22
maherk22

Just because you don’t, doesn’t mean other people don’t find themselves taking pictures in low light conditions.

djcbs
djcbs

Teenagers in the streets, on a hot summer night, at 4.a.m after a night of drinking.

Tourists visiting Churches and Castles in Europe.

Dcdaniel
Dcdaniel

Anyone at a club, anyone at the beach at night, anyone taking a picture after the sun sets.

preime101
preime101

When working or inspecting building sites where the lighting hasn’t been installed yet?

locarno
locarno

I think they should add night mode like it was on A 2016 series.

locarno
locarno

Nice attic or basement on the last picture (:

fcaroll
fcaroll

Google’s night sight takes multiple underexposed photos and then works on them. If they took longer-exposed photos they wouldn’t be able to take multiple and good quality shots. However still waiting for a bigger sensor

djcbs
djcbs

I don’t want to judge the results of Samsung’s “Bright Night” until I test it myself. But from the photos here, what I think is setting it apart from Google’s version isn’t any AI BS. It’s that Samsung is taking a normal photo with longer exposure, while Google is taking long exposure photos filled to the brim with HDR. It’s weird though that it’s not a separate mode. The info I got from a Samsung PR is that they were briefed on it as if it were (in fact he even said it was similar to Samsung’s old Night Mode… Read more »