1. Contradiction's Avatar
    Hi everyone,

    I’m cell phone shopping again right now and I’m cross shopping the Galaxy S9+ and the Google Pixel 2.

    I like the idea of experiencing a “raw Android OS” free from all the bloatware I never use that Samsung packs in. I’d like to see how Google does it.

    The main thing I’m looking for this time in a new phone is an improvement in the quality of the camera.

    I’m very impressed with the Dynamic Range of this camera from what I’ve seen in pictures. In head to head comparisons of the Pixel 2/Galaxy S9+/iPhone X I feel like the Pixel 2 has the best quality for that.

    What I’m wondering about mostly is the low light shooting capability of this camera, and if the S9+ is really that head and shoulders above or if the Pixel 2 is still “good”.

    The most disappointing use I see for them is taking concert pictures (no, I swear I’m not that insufferable A-hole that has my camera up the entire show but I do like to take some). Obviously it’s a dark environment with sparse, usually distant lighting. It seems like with my S4 and current S6 that from up to 20 feet from the people on stage I’m good, but further outside of that (like 5 rows back from the rail) or when trying to take pictures of someone to the side of the stage if I’m at center I got a ton of noise in my pictures and awful resolution.

    I’m also using it for conditions like sunsets, poorly lit room environments, etc.

    How do you feel the Pixel 2 does in low light?

    Is it at least “a step up” from previous cameras you have owned?

    Does it become more or less useless for distant subjects (i.e. concert stage from far back, buildings in the distance) in terms of noise and resolution or does it still pick up good detail and make “passable” images at night?

    If you’ve used it for concert pics in less than ideal spots (one side of the stage, 5+ rows back from the rail, etc) can you post some of your pics for me?
    07-16-2018 08:46 AM
  2. Rukbat's Avatar
    I’m very impressed with the Dynamic Range of this camera from what I’ve seen in pictures. In head to head comparisons of the Pixel 2/Galaxy S9+/iPhone X I feel like the Pixel 2 has the best quality for that.
    So does everyone, which is why everyone is comparing their camera to the Pixel 2/2XL. They have an additional processor in the SoC - the "Pixel Visual Core", which gives it more picture processing capability, which means HDR+ without time lapse.

    What I’m wondering about mostly is the low light shooting capability of this camera, and if the S9+ is really that head and shoulders above or if the Pixel 2 is still “good”.

    The most disappointing use I see for them is taking concert pictures
    You're looking at the wrong device. Oh, to take casual concert pictures, almost any flagship phone is okay, but if you want to capture a lot of light on what's basically a spotlight-lit dark stage, you need a full frame camera (one with a sensor equivalent to a 35mm film camera's) and a fast lens - and that's not a phone. (It's not even a $1,000 camera, it's cameras starting at around $3,000 - plus lens. A Voigtlander Nokton f/0.95 Lens goes for about $900 - for the lens alone.)

    but further outside of that (like 5 rows back from the rail) or when trying to take pictures of someone to the side of the stage if I’m at center I got a ton of noise in my pictures and awful resolution.
    That's just the physics of light. You can't shoot at high ISO with a small sensor without adding noise, and you can't get a picture without a lot of light at low ISO with a slow lens.

    I’m also using it for conditions like sunsets, poorly lit room environments, etc.
    That's tons more light than a concert stage 5 rows away. Even the moon on a clear night is plainly visible (if small).

    How do you feel the Pixel 2 does in low light?
    In true "low light"? (And I've shot some 64,000 ASA shots in environments in which I needed a flashlight to keep from breaking my neck.) Phones don't do that. Even where you can see something, the dynamic range between a dark corner of the stage and the spotlighted headliner is more than any film or digital sensor can handle (but you can burn and dodge film to make it look as if it has more dynamic range than it does - or doing a 2 bath process, you can get a 14 or 15 stop range - which isn't real-world). The Pixel 2 line, with its HDR+ processing, tries hard (it takes a shot wide open to get the shadows, than a shot stopped down to get the highlights, then the VPC combines the best part of both into one picture - but you still can't get a picture if there aren't enough photons coming off the subject. (Using LenX helps if you can take a time exposure - I can wash out a dark room with a 30 second exposure - but that won't do for concerts. You don't need it for sunsets. It may help in a dark room if you can mount the phone securely and nothing is going to move.)

    It's photography and you're dealing with an f/1.5 (S9+) or f/1.8 (Pixel 2/XL) lens and a tiny sensor. Use it for what it's good for, not what it's not good for.

    Is it at least “a step up” from previous cameras you have owned?
    From previous cellphone cameras? Not from flagships, except for the dynamic range - which requires a good photographer to take advantage of. (They provide you with the tool, but you have to know how to use it.) From previous real 2X2, or even 35mm, digital cameras? No cellphone camera can hold a candle to even a moderately priced one. From previous film cameras? How does your big fat mouse compare to that skinny starving elephant? Digital sensors can't capture what film can - yet.

    Does it become more or less useless for distant subjects (i.e. concert stage from far back, buildings in the distance) in terms of noise and resolution or does it still pick up good detail and make “passable” images at night?
    That depends. For looking at on a phone screen? The resolution is fine. (Any digital shot in a dark environment is going to generate noise - the higher the ISO, the higher the noise.) For blowing up to 11X14? The resolution isn't there yet. A plain old 35mm film camera, shooting plain old drugstore color film, has a resolution of about 175mp. Get up to a good camera, say a 4X5, with a good lens, good film and good processing, and you're up to more than 2GP. No cellphone camera is going to compete with that - not even "compete and lose". There's no contest. there's no discussion of a contest. But it's what you see in paper ads. (And even in fine-grain - read high resolution - film, the better the resolution, the lower the sensitivity. For high resolution and high sensitivity you need an eagle's eyesight and a nightscope.

    Choose the tool that's made for the job. If the tool you choose is a cellphone, it's going to produce dark grainy noisy pictures if you shoot the entire stage in 1 picture, unless you're spot-metering - then you can at least choose which part of the picture will be good. (And forget about flash - that barely illuminates 5 rows ahead of you - you won't see a photon coming back from the stage.)
    07-16-2018 01:05 PM
  3. Contradiction's Avatar
    I realize the limitations of cell phone cameras and that they are VASTLY out performed by DSLR and full frame cameras with high quality lenses. A cell phone camera is no competition.

    I'm trying to get an idea of if THIS phone camera is any better then previous cell phone camera offerings and if it can capture a "good enough" picture in the moment when it's accessible in my pocket while a DSLR is not. I am not expecting a miracle from a cell phone camera. I'm just hoping for an "improvement" over previous ones.

    Especially in the case of concert pics because outside of a small venue with explicit permission I'd probably never be able to bring a DSLR in. Even when I've brought in P&S "Super Zooms" (which yes, are at best 10x or 12x Optical and 30x or 40x digital) I've gotten crappy noise filled "water color smudged" looking pictures. I'd be thrilled if I found a cell phone camera that might let me get a decent pic 8 or 10 rows back.
    07-16-2018 01:25 PM
  4. LeoRex's Avatar
    To answer your question... You aren't really taking a picture in low light... You are taking a picture with rather extreme dynamic range. You're in the dark, the stage probably got all kinds of bright light sources and direct lighting. And while I don't have any concert pictures, I do have a few of my kids' dance recitals. They came out far better than the pictures taken from other phones there... So much better than a few people were amazed.

    The Pixels processing really excels in those kinds of conditions... You won't have blown out highlights and the nature of HDR+ limits motion blur due to longer exposures. And you also won't have the scrubbed to death look that some cameras were give you as they hammer the thing in an attempt to kill noise. You'll get more noise with the Pixel, but the picture will keep it's warmth and realism.

    This is the closest I could find to a concert shot... It's from a 6P, which was just as stellar in these conditions.
    07-17-2018 12:25 AM
  5. mwboost's Avatar
    I did lots of comparisons with my 2XL and our S9+(which I sold).
    The 2XL always came up with better details and more accurate colours indoor and low light. The S9+ always smoothed out too many details for the sake of a cleaner image. And the colours were off 99% of the time.
    The 2XL may have a bit more grain at times but nothing that's bothered me.
    There is the odd time where the pixel had a weird yellow tint but sometimes slightly different angles fixed that. Anyways both are good but I prefer my 2XL.
    07-17-2018 06:04 PM
  6. Fred98TJ's Avatar
    The “problem”is that a lot of people have way too high of expectations from cellphone cameras.

    A combination of tiny sensor and a slow lens just doesn’t work well in anything except good light.

    Software does a lot to try and make up for the shortcomings but in the end physics is physics. You can’t change that
    07-17-2018 08:48 PM
  7. pdarrah's Avatar
    I'm afraid we don't have any concert shots - but I do have some low-light pictures. A couple weeks ago my family was at Bouchart Gardens in Victoria BC Canada. The sun was setting and as we lost the light we had to give up on various cameras. 1st to go was my Droid Turbo (3years old & was never a great camera), then my spouse's iPhone8, then our small Fuji P&S camera, then my DSLR (Canon Rebel XT - about 10 yrs old). For the last 30 minutes or so we were there, the only camera that could get anything (without using flash) was my son's Pixel 2. Some of the photos look brighter & show more detail than we were seeing with our eyes. Yes, there is some noise, but we aren't likely to be there again and he was able to get pictures that are certainly good enough for the trip photo album.

    (These 3 were taken between 9:30-10pm. Official sunset that day was 9:17pm)

    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-img_20180616_214802.jpg
    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-img_20180616_212944.jpg
    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-img_20180616_213749.jpg
    07-18-2018 08:50 AM
  8. elshagon's Avatar
    Here's some concert pix I took with the Pixel 2 XL. I'm happy with the low light pictures. I almost never use flash for anything.

    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-00014img_00014_burst20180511212207_cover.jpg
    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-img_20180511_232608.jpg
    Pixel 2 Camera and Low Light Photos?-mvimg_20180511_202355.jpg
    07-19-2018 04:18 PM
  9. Theot's Avatar
    I love it I low light. Best camera I've ever had. It's great in all lighting. Where my wife's iPhone 8 camera washes things out and shows reflections my pixel 2 balances out the lighting and colors for a much better picture.

    Hers some shots I took of fireworks on the 4th of July just playing around.
    07-19-2018 07:19 PM
  10. LeoRex's Avatar
    Here's an example I like... Here's a shot that'll have a lot of phones falling flat on their face. The either blow out the lights trying to get the lowlights, or hammer the shadows trying to get the lights right.

    You could probably count the bulbs if you felt inclined.

    Look, it's not perfect, bit it's going to be able to handle pretty much everything you throw at it.

    I was in Boston last night and had a few hours to kill so I strolled around the Common and the theater district and took a bunch of pics. Sure, I might be able to get a better picture with a dedicated camera, but I would have had to lug the thing around the whole time. And it wouldn't have found the closest Dunks while playing a little World of Warships.
    gebco and Morty2264 like this.
    07-30-2018 10:44 PM
  11. Morty2264's Avatar
    I'm not a camera buff but I do like how my Pixel 2 handles low light photography in most instances. I'm not too picky about camera results but I'd say that I'm almost always satisfied - of course there's a photo or two that don't seem "accurate" to my eye but more often than not, I do like my low-light photos. And they've certainly come out better than my other devices' low-light photos.
    07-31-2018 07:05 AM
  12. darkehawke's Avatar
    I was torn between the p20 pro and the pixel 2 for the same reason. The p20 pro absolutely stomps the pixel for low light and things like concerts.
    However the pixel 2 pretty much trounces the p20 pro everywhere else. Some of the p20 pro shots gets absolutely ruined by its ai.
    So I came to the conclusion that the pixel 2 is more of an all rounder and I don't go to that many concerts to pick the p20 pro.
    Bear in mind the audio recording of the pixel 2 is so sub par. One of the worst out there.
    08-07-2018 12:03 PM
  13. Gurds's Avatar
    Here's a couple of pics I took at Franz Ferdinand the other night.

    08-07-2018 12:31 PM

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