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An original point of view

Astrophotography, Night Photography

Xiaomi Mi 8 128GB (Global version) photo facilities, part 3 – night photography and astrophotography

Xiaomi Mi 8 global - night photography

Night photography with Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version)

 

In this part of the Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone test, I would like to reveal a night photography feature, which has been widely developed in this device.
First of all let’s through 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. A Xiaomi Mi 8 enables us to take photos in 4 options, from which 3 of them are commonly known and there is no point to elaborate about them. You can take 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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Rustall Road Cambridge

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Rustall Road Cambridge night photo standard

Pic. 1, 2 A standard image taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone under low light conditions, without a flash. Rustall Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Corrie Road Cambridge 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 in 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 the top left corner of the frame, where flash is located. It can be disturbing, however, it doesn’t impact your image so much, when you are capturing a distant object (Pic. 4).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Flash_distant Coleridge Road Cambridge

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

In the 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 these photos under misty conditions, so possibly this is a culprit of the general quality.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Flash_closer Corrie Road Cambridge

Pic. 5 A flash picture of the closer object taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone, where a bright mist takes hold in a whole area of the picture and increasing towards the top left corner.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Flash_closer Corrie Road Cambridge2

Pic. 6 Picture taken with flash in Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone, where a bright flash effect has been minimalized. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

Aside from 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.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) flash option

Pic. 7 Flash options in Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone.

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

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night scene photo with torch and flash

Pic. 8 Night scene taken by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone: 1 – without flash, 2 – with a 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 on 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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Zoom features at night fireworks Corrie Road Cambridge

Pic. 9 Xiaomi Mi 8 zoom features comparison in low light conditions: 1 – normal photo, 2 – 4x zoom, cropped. Corrie Road, Cambridge, UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Zoom night with flash or torch use

Pic. 10 Xiaomi Mi 8 flash and torch feature under 4x zoom conditions, where: 1 – normal picture, 2 – with the 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 autofocus, which can be not accurate enough in low light conditions. Sometimes you even cannot block it, when the 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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) The Peak on option

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 other regions with the lowest red dot density, which are unfavorable for autofocus purposes.

When you are pretty much confident about your autofocus (the device will “tell you” about it, when a yellow circle disappears), then you can start doing decent photos for sure. Next to the typical photos, you can make panoramic ones too, which is an interesting option not only in daylight conditions but also during the night. The process is exactly the same as 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 visible borders between the stitches, as discussed previously (Pic. 13).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Panorama night Corrie Road Cambridge

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Panorama night cropped

Pic. 12, 13 Panoramic photos taken under low light conditions: 12 – normal picture, 13 – cropped with the stitches shown by the 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 the picture a bit darker, but prevents from losing sharpness (Pic. 14).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Panorama mode with or without zoom Corrie Road Cambridge

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.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Panorama mode with zoom Coleridge Road Cambridge

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) Panorama mode with zoom cropped

Pic. 15, 16 Panoramic photos 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 the 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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) mounted on 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 placed it above some soft surface, like grass or not high above the ground, it is fine. In the worst-case scenario, you will damage your phone. Better buy a proper tripod, as proposed in the links at the bottom.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) mounted on Tripod2

Pic. 18 The only reasonable place, when you can set your tripod properly without touching the main button 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 read my 1st 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:

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Corrie Road Cambridge

Pic. 19; 1s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Corrie Road Cambridge2

Pic. 20; 1s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Corrie Road Cambridge3

Pic. 21; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 1600, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Davy Road Cambridge

Pic. 22; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 400, Davy Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Corrie Road Cambridge4

Pic. 23; 4s, f/1.8, ISO 800, Corrie Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Davy Road Cambridge2

Pic. 24; 2s, f/1.8, ISO 400, Davy Road, Cambridge UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Colleridge recreation ground

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example Colleridge recreation ground2

Pic. 25, 26 An night landscape example, where; 23 – 32s, ISO 3200 f/1.8; 24 – 8s, ISO 800, f/1.8. Coleridge Recreation Ground, Cambridge, UK.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example, Greville Road, Cambridge

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 the high light pollution in the city centre. Anyway device is capable to take a decent picture of stars and constellations. Below I have prepared a small comparison 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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo ISO comparison

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).

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto Altair

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto2 Altair

Pic. 29, 30 The Aquilae constellation with the most prominent Altair star and also Delphinus constellation captured by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone: 29 – 32s, f/1.8, ISO 400; 30 – 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto3 Aries

Pic. 31 The Aries constellation; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto4 Taurus

Pic. 32 Taurus constellation with the Hyades and Pleiades; 32s, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto5 Ursa major

Pic. 33 The Ursa Major constellation captured by Xiaomi Mi 8 smartphone; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto6 Capella

Pic. 34 The Perseus and Auriga constellation with the 2nd brightest star on the northern sky – Capella; 16s, f/1.8, ISO 800.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto7 Moon

Pic. 35 Full Moon; 2s, f/2.4, ISO 6400.

Xiaomi Mi 8 (Global version) night photo example astrophoto8 Moon2

Pic. 36 Full Moon; 2s, f.1/8, ISO 1600.

In my opinion, Xiaomi Mi 8 6GB 128GB (Global version) smartphone works really 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 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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