In this part of the Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone test I would like to reveal a night photography features, which has been widely developed in this device.
First of all let’s through a very basic and common photography, which is provided by Photo and Square mode. If you don’t know what modes I am writing about, refer to the 1st part of my article. An Xiaomi Mi 8 enable us to take a photos in 4 options, from which 3 of them are commonly known and there is no point to elaborate about them. You can take a photos without flash, with automatic flash and with flash turning on. That’s fair enough. It’s good to keep your camera tidy, otherwise your images taken under floodlit conditions will be fuzzy in places (Pic. 3).

76 Night6g

57. Night standard
Pic. 1, 2 A standard image taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone under low light conditions, without a flash. Rustall Road, Cambridge UK.
58. Night fuzzy
Pic. 3 Always make sure, that your front camera is pristine. Otherwise your picture won’t be sharp and clear enough, especially when heading on point, much brighter light. A starburst effect will result unpleasant bright fuzzies across the picture. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

Anyway, in my opinion the flash could work better in this device. Once you are taking a picture with flash, you can see some brightening in top left corner of the frame, where flash is located. It can be disturbing, however doesn’t impact your image so much, when you are capturing a distant object (Pic. 4).

59. Flash_distant
Pic. 4 Picture taken with and without flash by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone. The picture 1, which has been taken with flash use apears to look a bit brighter itself rather than a 2nd one. Moreover a brightness increases towards top left corner of the image. Colleridge Road, Cambridge, UK.

In case of closer objects this issue is more discernable, making a photo literally out of question (Pic. 5). Although I believe, that you may have a better effect than mine. I was taking this photos under a misty conditions, so possibly this is an culprit of the general quality.

59. Flash_closer
Pic. 5 A flash picture of closer object taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone, where a bright mist takes hold in a whole area of the picture and increasing towards top left corner.
60b. Flash_closer
Pic. 6 Picture taken with flash in Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone, where a bright flash effect has been minimalised. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

Aside for these common night photography options there is another one, the most interesting. This is a torch in order to bright up your area under low light conditions, which is a really good altitude.

Screenshot_2018-11-01-21-15-01-336_com.android.camera
Pic. 7 Flash options in Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone.

Torch will be useful, when photographed object is close enough to the user (Pic. 8). You need gauge the distance on your own, taking into account some external lights around like street lamps, etc. In my opinion the maximum distance, when torch will be really useful is about 5-7 m.

61. Torch
Pic. 8 Night scene taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone: 1 – without flash, 2 – with torch, 3 – with flash. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

Another fact is, that all this stuff you can use, when doing some zoom. Read my previous part of this article how to do it. Unfortunately due to low light conditions is harder to set a proper focus. Even, when you will get some tripod, the images can be quite noisy. However they look still far better, than those, taken by cheaper smartphones (Pic. 9-10).

62. Zoom night
Pic. 9 Xiaomi Mi 8 zoom features comparison in low light conditions: 1 – normal photo, 2 – 4x zoom, cropped. Corrie road, Cambridge, UK.
63. Zoom night flash torch
Pic. 10 Xiaomi Mi 8 flash and torch feature under 4x zoom conditions, where: 1 – normal picture, 2 – with torch, 3 – with flash.

To be honest zoom, bigger than 2x may not be really useful at night conditions. Pictures zoomed more than 4x may be a nightmare.
A basic thing in zoomed pictures is an autofocus, which can be not accurate enough in low light condisions. Sometimes you even cannot block it, when device is not sure of the sharpness of the objects beyond. For this purpose, you can switch the “Peak on” option, available for  Manual mode only. The “Peak on” option shows you the brightest objects in the frame, which can work as an autofocus reference for the device. In places, where the red dot density is the lowest is really hard to set autofocus (Pic. 11).

Screenshot_2018-11-01-20-56-03-171_com.android.camera
Pic. 11 The “Peak on” option provided by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone can be useful, when setting your autofocus in low light conditions. In your screen you can see red dotted image regions, which are the best illuminated, being thereby the best for autofocus setting, unlike to another regions with the lowest red dot density, which are unvafourable for autofocus purposes.

When you are pretty much confident about your autofocus ( device will “tell you” about it, when an yellow circle dissapear), then you can start doing a decent photos for sure. Next to the typical photos you can make a panoramic ones too, which is an interesting option not only in daylight conditions, but also during the night. The process is exactly the same like during daylight conditions (Pic. 12). However you must be more careful and not rush, because the sharpness can be lost quickly due to longer exposure, which in the night conditions is required. Moreover you can have a visible borders between the stitches, as discussed previously (Pic. 13).

64. Panorama night

65. Panorama night cropped
Pic. 12, 13 Panoramic photo taken under low light conditions: 10 – normal picture, 11 – cropped with the stitches shown by red arrow. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

In general the panoramic photos taken during the night can be quite noisy, but if you have enough time to keep your device in slow motion, then you can make a pretty good image. Bear in mind, that as same as during the daylight you can also use a 2x zoom feature for night panoramas (Pic. 15, 16). I this case the aperture and ISO is lower, making picture a bit darker, but prevents from loosing sharpness (Pic. 14).

66. Panorama mode with without zoom
Pic. 14 Cropped panoramic picture taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 under low light conditions, where: 1 – without zoom factor, 1/33s f/1.8 ISO 9000; 2 – with 2x zoom factor, 1/33s, f/2.4, ISO 6400. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

67. Panorama mode with zoom

68. Panorama mode with zoom cropped
Pic. 15, 16 Panoramic photo taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone with 2x zoom factor, where: 15 – normal, 16 – cropped picture. Comparing to Pic. 12 this image has been taken with rush, so in effect is not sharp enough and some objects remain too extended. Coleridge road, Cambridge, UK.

There all things necessary to raise up in terms of standard pictures taken in low light conditions. If you want to make a better, more extravagant night pictures, the device allows you for it, although the tripod is needed. To be honest it cannot be a standard phone tripod like mine, because the mount is quite uncomfortable (Pic. 17, 18).

69. Tripod
Pic. 17 Xiaomi Mi 8 6GB 128GB (Global Version) smartphone installed on a standard tripod.

On top of that this is quite high risk, that your smartphone will pop out in the meantime. As long as you have place it above some soft surface, like grass or not high above ground, is fine. In worst case scenario you will damage your phone. Better buy a proper tripod, as proposed in the links at the bottom.

70. Tripod2
Pic. 18 The only one reasonable place, when you can set your tripod properly without touching a main buttons and keeping your phone stable more or less.

When you set your tripod properly, then you can try to make a decent night pictures with longer exposure. If you red my 1st part of the article1st part of the article, then you know more about the exposure, aperture and ISO options offered by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone.
I just would like to remind, that maximum exposure is 32s, and max. ISO 3200, which is amazing. Now see a few examples of night images below:

71 Night1
Pic. 19; 1s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.
72 Night2
Pic. 20; 1s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.
72 Night3
Pic. 21; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.
74 Night4b
Pic. 22; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 400, Davy Road, Cambridge UK.
75 Night5
Pic. 23; 4s, f/1.8, ISO 800, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.
76 Night6d
Pic. 24; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 400, Davy Road, Cambridge UK.

76 Night6b

76 Night6e
Pic. 25, 26 An night landscape egzample, where; 23 – 32s, ISO 3200 f/1.8; 24 – 8s, ISO 800, f/1.8. Coleridge Recreation Ground, Cambridge, UK.
76 Night6f
Pic. 27; 4s f/1.8, ISO 1600. Greville Road, Cambridge, UK.

The Xiaomi Mi 8 6GB 128GB Global version is also good for astrophotography. Unfortunately I couldn’t test it properly due to high light pollution in the city centre. Anyway device is capable to take a decent picture of stars and constelations. Below I have prepared a small comaprison between the ISO value featured by this device. Up to 800 your pictures will be fine. When your iso is 1600 and 3200, then you may have your pictures a bit noisy (Pic. 28).

77 ISO
Pic. 28 Xiaomi Mi 8 ISO quality comparison: 1 – 3200 for 8s, 2 – 1600 for 8s, 3 – 800 for 16s. Mars in Aquarius constellation.

Now let’s through some example photos, as I have done recently. If you decide to do a night sky picture with 32s exposure, bear in mind, that stars will look like dashes, because the sky is in motion (Pic. 29).

80 Astrophoto1 Altair

81 Astrophoto2 Altair
Pic. 29, 30 The Aquilae constellation with the most prominent Altair star and also Delphinus constellation captured by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone: 26 – 32s, f/1.8, ISO 400; 27 – 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.
78 Astrophoto1 Aries
Pic. 31 The Aries constellation; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.
79 Astrophoto1 Taurus
Pic. 32 Taurus constellation with the Hiades and Pleiades; 32s, f/1.8, ISO 800.
83 Astrophoto3 Ursa major
Pic. 33 The Ursa Major constellation captured by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.
84 Astrophoto3 Capella
Pic. 34 The Perseus and Auriga constellation with the 2nd brightest star on the northern sky – Capella; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.
82 Astrophoto3 Moon
Pic. 35 Full Moon; 2s, f/2.4, ISO 6400.
83 Astrophoto3 Moon2
Pic. 36 Full Moon; 2s, f.1/8, ISO 1600.

In my opinion Xiaomi Mi 8 6GB 128GB (Global version) smartphone works realle fine under low light conditions. This device offers you a wide spectrum of night photography from common photos through night panoramas, even to astrophotography. If you get a proper tripod, then you will take a better pictures than me.

Mariusz Krukar

 

Links:

  1. Tripod & selfie sticker for Xiaomi smartphones
  2. Original selfie sticker for Xiaomi smartphone
  3. Xiaomi Mi 8 lite tripod mount

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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