Samsung Galaxy S10 camera automatic Photo mode vs Night mode. Samsung recently brought the camera on the Galaxy S10 with a software update to a dedicated night mode. While a Night mode is useful on budget and mid-range phones due to cheaper optics and camera hardware, flagship phones have been taking good pictures in automatic shooting mode under all conditions for a couple of 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 to tinker with camera parameters before taking pictures, but now, with some competing smartphones getting better and better at night photography, Samsung has added a Night camera mode to its latest flagship.
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The latest update of the Night mode on the Galaxy S10 is basically the Bright Night feature the Galaxy S10 trio had at the start. Bright Night used long exposure–lower shutter speeds, in other words–to capture more light in dark scenes, but as it was part of the Scene Optimizer feature, Bright Night only kicked in when the camera detected extremely poor lighting.
Worse yet, there was no way to force the phone to take long exposure shots, which is why the new Night mode is handy as the user can switch to it whenever they want, even if the automatic shooting mode is going to do fine.
And that’s exactly what we’ve done to see how images in the Night mode compared to those shot in the automatic photo mode so we can show you the difference that Night mode can make.
Higher detail and lightness, but also more noise
Photos in the night mode are brighter than regular photos and tend to be slightly more detailed as well. In scenes with trees in it, the higher detail is most easily noticeable. Where all the leaves are smudged in automatic mode, night mode tends to eke out more detail.
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In most Night mode pictures, however, noise also rises noticeably, 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 appears on the right side of the viewfinder) to get more light instead of using Night mode.
Below is a scene we captured in very low light (swipe right for the regular photo, left for the Night mode version), followed by a picture showing you the difference Night mode in plants and trees can make in detail.
It is worth noting that, even if it comes out brighter, not every photo taken in Night mode looks better than the automatic version. Another thing we’ve noticed is that the Galaxy S10 doesn’t always seem to use long exposure for photographs in night mode.
This is usually the case with not-too-difficult low-light scenarios, but in those not-too-difficult scenarios, there are also times when the phone uses a longer exposure, and it’s unclear why this happens. And in one case (the photo at the end of this article), in fact, night mode took a darker picture with less noise than the automatic mode.
Galaxy S10 Night mode is useful but needs to be improved
Overall, a dedicated night mode is definitely very useful and creates brighter, more detailed images in tough low-light situations, albeit with lots of noise. It’s almost a shame that for the past couple of years Samsung has not offered such a mode on its flagships, instead of giving us a binary choice: it depends on automatic mode or tinker in Pro mode.
Now that it has relented, one can hope that with future updates and new devices, Samsung will bring significant improvements to the Night mode.
Check out more camera samples below (swipe right for the automatic photo shot and swipe left for photo night mode). Tell us what you think of your Galaxy S10 camera’s night mode and whether or not you find it useful.
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