Camera

Comparison: Galaxy S10 camera Night mode vs automatic Photo mode

Samsung recently brought a dedicated Night mode to the camera on the Galaxy S10 with a software update. While a Night mode is useful on budget and mid-range phones thanks to cheaper optics and camera hardware, flagship phones have been taking good photos in all conditions in automatic shooting mode for a few years now.

Samsung stopped offering a Night mode in the camera app on its flagships with the Galaxy S7 and added a Pro mode for those who like tinkering with camera parameters before taking pictures, but now, with some competing smartphones getting better and better at nighttime photography, Samsung has added a Night camera mode to its latest flagship.

The Night mode on the Galaxy S10 with the latest update is basically the Bright Night feature that the Galaxy S10 trio had at launch. Bright Night used long exposure–slower shutter speeds, in other words–to capture more light in dark scenes, but as it was a part of the Scene Optimizer feature, Bright Night only kicked in when the camera would detect extremely poor lighting.

Worse yet was that there was no way of forcing the phone to take long exposure shots, which is why the new Night mode comes in handy as the user can switch to it anytime they want, even when the automatic shooting mode would do just fine. And that’s exactly what we did to see how Night mode pictures compared to those shot in the automatic Photo mode so we could show you the difference Night mode can make.

Higher detail and brightness, but also higher noise

Night mode photos do come out brighter than regular photos and also tend to have slightly more detail. The higher detail is most easily noticeable in scenes with trees in it. Where in automatic mode the leaves are all smudged, Night mode tends to eke out finer detail. However, noise also goes up noticeably in most Night mode pictures, and sometimes it’s better to just adjust the exposure of a scene in automatic mode (by tapping on what you want to focus on and moving the slider that shows up on the right side of the viewfinder) to get more light instead of taking the help of Night mode.

Below is one scene we captured in very low light (swipe right for the regular photo, left for the Night mode version), followed by a picture that shows you the difference Night mode can make to detail in plants and trees.

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It’s worth noting that not every photo taken in Night mode looks better than the automatic version, even if it comes out brighter. Another thing we noticed is that the Galaxy S10 doesn’t always seem to use long exposure for Night mode photos. This is usually the case with not-too-difficult low-light scenarios, but there are also times when the phone does use longer exposure in those not-too-difficult scenarios, and it’s unclear why this happens. And in one case (the photo at the end of this article), Night mode actually took a darker picture with less noise than automatic mode.

Night mode is useful, but it needs improvements

Overall, a dedicated Night mode is certainly very useful and makes for brighter, more detailed images in tough low-light situations, albeit with plenty of noise. It’s almost a shame that Samsung has offered no such mode on its flagships for the last couple of years, instead giving us a binary choice: Depend on automatic mode or tinker around in the Pro mode. Now that it has relented, one can hope Samsung will bring major improvements to the Night mode with future updates and new devices.

Check out more camera samples below (swipe right for the picture shot in automatic Photo mode and swipe left for the Night mode photo). Do tell us what you think of the Night mode on your Galaxy S10 camera and whether you find it useful or not.

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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

17 Comments

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johnsoneo
johnsoneo

Honestly I find the recent obsession with night mode a bit amusing. How many people would really take pictures in almost total darkness or is it just to prove you can? Yes I would do night shots like with city lights or indoors but to want to do it in darkness, I wouldn’t actually think of an occasion i would do that . To be fair I think the current night mode on my S10 works great, yes there are some noise which hopefully can be improved with future updates, but unless you try to zoom in to details they… Read more »

locarno
locarno

I don’t know but Night mode is beautiful in some photos. The last but one photo for example.

locarno
locarno

“does use longer exposure in those not-too-difficult scenarios, and it’s unclear why this happens.”

This is AI.

o0MHJ0o
o0MHJ0o

I do think they (the general consumers) are giving “Night mode” way too much attention. Whatever happened to flash? And Pro mode? How lazy are people that they need a night mode? I’ve said before. Pro mode let’s you save configurations! I’d rather be able to save 5-7 instead of, the 3 and this “night mode”.

Bobbingalong
Bobbingalong

General people want point and shoot. Personally don’t use pro mode as shots of my kids etc don’t give me time to use it.

Having the night mode is a great option but they do need to work on SW to make it capable of the Google pixel offering

locarno
locarno

How I can save Pro mode configurations ?

Bobbingalong
Bobbingalong

No idea. Not option with one ui from my experience

mtbrown262626
mtbrown262626

I may not want to use the flash if you are after a good night shot. It a good option for the night shot that you need to take quickly otherwise pro mode is the best option if you have time to take with pro mode.

Biransahin
Biransahin

It’s pretty good, but you can still get better shots using pro mode and you have perfect examples here Abhijeet of totally different low conditions but the camera is still using just one general mode. That’s not a criticism, there would be numerous different night modes for every situation which isn’t really feasible. That’s why we have pro mode. They did a good job. Just look at every bright night or night mode shots from other phones, they all have noise, it’s impossible not to have it unless you have a DSLR with the correct filters etc. Excellent article and… Read more »

Bobbingalong
Bobbingalong

What are your pro configs setting?

ProdByEchelon
ProdByEchelon

This should’ve shipped with the phone. Samsung realised they dropped the ball by not having this already. Especially with the P30 going viral about how good is night mode and zoom is vs. The iPhone and S10.

Biransahin
Biransahin

Maybe, I’m thinking, yes but we will see.

kaku85
kaku85

S9 line will get this update???

HFL087
HFL087

Night mode way better

Biransahin
Biransahin

Not as good as what you can achieve with pro mode, but you’re right, way better than Auto in general.

thibaly
thibaly

I think the automatic mode is better