Google’s vice president of marketing, Marvin Chow, has started argument on Twitter after posting an image evaluating the cameras on the Google Pixel 3 and the Apple iPhone XS. Rather than a shot of a remarkable landscape, or a bokeh-filled portrait, the photo is of a low-light street scene, and shows the difference between the iPhone’s camera and Night Sight mode on the Pixel 3.
The controversy comes from the significant difference between the two, and whether one is really “better” than the other. Chow writes in his tweet, “Night Sight on the Google Pixel 3 — pretty much addresses for itself,” and adds an explosion emoji to indicate the photo’s superiority over the iPhone, in his humble opinion.
Looked at quickly, the Google Pixel 3’s Night Sight shot discloses more about the scene, comprising the female model’s clothes and facial features, but it takes on an almost hyper-real appearance. Without being present when the photo was taken, it’s difficult to know what it really appeared like at the time, but it’s hard to think about the scene looked like this to the naked eye. The iPhone XS’s photo shrouds the model in darkness, with moody lighting behind her from the neon signs, possibly making it more genuine.
Both are very distinct photographs. Why? The Google Pixel 3 uses Night Sight to take its photo, a special camera mode that mixes the HDR+ mode with some artificial intelligence power to boost the colors and brightness in low-light photos. The results aren’t always as instantly remarkable as the one shared by Chow, but are rarely anything other than visually impressive.
The controversy comes from just how diverse the two are, and whether the Night Sight photo really is an advancement over the iPhone’s photo. Replies to Chow’s tweet and picture include issues about Night Sight’s inclination to over saturate and overexpose a shot, and to expose noise following intense software improvement. We pointed out in our Night Sight launch story that it can, “Strip away the ambiance or mood of the image,” and some may experience this is what has occurred in the example image distributed on Twitter. The iPhone does not have a comparable mode, and the Smart HDR feature presented on the iPhone XS does not affect low-light images.
However, the Pixel 3’s picture looks amazing, and would be the image most would immediately share online. The iPhone XS’s picture needs some editing and enhancing to make it more shareable. Both have their value and disadvantages. Which do you select?