Google experiment promises clean nighttime shots from your phone

Many modern smartphones can take decent photos when the sun goes down, but their noisy, washed out images still don’t hold a candle to the shots from a high-end DSLR. Google researcher Florian Kainz might have a way of closing that gap at least some of the time, however. In response to a challenge from one of his team members, he wrote an experimental Android app that helps take exceptionally clean photos in even the darkest conditions. The software gives you manual control over exposure, focus distance and ISO sensitivity, all of which are crucial to low-light photography. When you tap the shutter button, the app takes a burst of up to 64 photos. After that, it’s a matter of some calculation: Kainz eliminates the noise by computing the mean of the frames, and can remove artifacts by subtracting the mean of frames shot with tape over the sensor.

As for the results? They’re not perfect (you’re looking at one example up top), but they’re miles above what you’re used to from your handset. Google’s Nexus 6P and Pixel could take well-exposed, color-accurate and largely noise-free photos in extremely dark situations. Kainz even managed a decent photo of the night sky using nothing but starlight. The approach can compensate for motion, too, so you might not need a tripod to stabilize your phone.

Right now, the approach isn’t practical for most people. It requires a lot of after-the-fact processing on a computer, and the pictures still aren’t as high-resolution as what you tend to get out of DSLRs. Also, you certainly wouldn’t want to use this for fast-moving objects. However, Kainz believes that a phone could handle everything by itself with the appropriate app. If the experiment translates from Google’s labs to real-world code, you could take many nighttime photos that are virtually impossible today.

Source: Google Research Blog

Source: Engadget - Read the full article here

Author: Daily Tech Whip

This article is part of our 'News Tiles' service. The site is currently in Beta. When it is fully operational you will be able to search through and arrange the 'Tiles' to display a keyword, product or technology over your chosen time period. For example you would be able to display all of the leading tech articles on the new Kindle Fire, in one spot in real time. You will also have access to our own original reporting and analysis as well as a polished place to post your own thoughts & reviews here, amongst the Daily Tech Whip Community. Please let us know if you have any feedback via the contact form or via Twitter. Don't forget to come back next week and see our full site and claim your name and your own free tech blog.

Share This Post On