Factors responsible for capturing great images in low light

Huawei’s flagship phones consistently rank as someone of the best smartphones around for low-light photography. The latest Mate 30 Pro earned praise for improving this formula further but faced stiff competition from Google’s new Pixel 4.

Let’s understand exactly what companies are doing to produce such great low light shots.

1. Smart hardware


The best way to taking great pictures in the dark is to capture as much light as possible with the camera sensor.

A wider lens opening helps more light to hit the sensor, but it is very difficult to build without introducing lens distortion. Aperture is just part of the picture, as phones like the OnePlus 7 Pro match Huawei’s aperture but these aren’t as good in low light. The next thing is the size of the image sensor.

2. Larger sensors and pixel binning


Bigger senor brings more light into the camera. The larger the bucket, the more light collected in a smaller time frame and thus better low-light pictures. Huawei has been creating larger image sensor sizes like P and Mate series phones include a 1/1.7-inch sensor. This is larger than many of Huawei’s rivals, like Apple, Google, and Samsung, which opt for 1/2.55-inch sensors.

Huawei’s sensor features 40 megapixels, compared to the 12 megapixels usually offered by its rivals. In addition, Huawei’s image sensor uses a technique known as pixel binning or quad Bayer filter technology.

The size of the individual pixels also matters a lot in improving the smart picture capturing with good quality.

3. Mixed and long exposure


Google Pixel’s HDR+ technology is the key to today’s low-light techniques. HDR+ combines multiple exposures together. With the P20 Pro, Huawei introduced its own “one-shot HDR” technology, useful for low light as well. In this, half of the pixels shoot with long exposure and the other half use a short exposure. This combination produces an HDR result with just a single rather than multiple images.

Yet another thing is Huawei and Google launched their long-exposure Night modes. This technique fuses several short- and long-exposure images together to provide well-lit night shots.

Taking great pictures in low light requires a combination of solid hardware fundamentals and specialized software.


Capturing great pictures in low light needs a combination of solid hardware fundamentals and specialized software. Smartphone manufacturers are improving their cameras with superior lenses and sensors. In this effort software algorithms also play a huge role, managing exposure, denoising an image without deleting detail, and improving the quality of multiple exposure night modes.