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Google tried to recreate a DSLR photo with a Nexus 6P — and it worked

A Google software engineer was challenged by co-workers to recreate a DSLR photo of the Golden Gate bridge with a smartphone camera. This is the result.

Published onApril 26, 2017

Great low-light pictures have been traditionally difficult to achieve with smartphone cameras. Strides have been made in recent years, and OEMs often boast about this progress in their flagship’s press materials, but there’s still work to be done.

Florian Kainz, a software engineer working with Google’s Gcam team, recently blogged about this topic. Kainz said he was challenged by co-workers to recreate a nighttime DSLR photo of the Golden Gate bridge (above) using a smartphone camera.

To achieve this, Kainz experimented with a Google Pixel and Nexus 6P and some different photography techniques (and post-processing) to produce a variety of nighttime shots — here is the recreation of the Golden Gate bridge photo he took with a Nexus 6P:

The shot above, and the other images from the blog, are not photos that anybody with a Pixel/Nexus 6P could achieve (if you have taken pictures that look anything like this on your Pixel or Nexus 6P do send them in!). Kainz created a custom Android app to allow him to tweak the exposure time, ISO and focus distance for the initial snaps, and later edited them. The shots also couldn’t have been made without a tripod. This was just an exercise in trying to get DSLR-like low-light photos, but we can’t deny the results look fantastic, and who knows what Google will be able to do in the future with its findings.

You can read about the full process over at the Google Research blog, and check out the gallery of shots below (the first four images were taken with the Pixel, next two with Nexus 6P, and the last is the hi-res DSLR photo).