This is going to be quick since I want to get this out the same day of the new iPhone, so as you have surely seen in oh so many corporate emails, please excuse my brevity.
Below are 4 shots, all taken within seconds of each other. Camera A and B are consistent through the 4 photos, so if you’d like, choose a favorite before you read onto the next section.
Ok, have you made your choice?
Camera A was the Pixel 3a and Camera B was the iPhone 11 Pro.
The above scaled-down photos don’t tell the hole story though, so let’s look at some of the details before getting to my initial takeaways. iPhone is on the left, Pixel is on the right.
This is a limited test, and these were all taken in nearly pitch blackness, so none of them look great, but to my eye the iPhone did better on the selfie (with the back camera, btw) and the Pixel spit out initially better-looking photos in the other 3 cases. I think the big thing for me are the colors, which look nice and more like what I feel like I’m seeing than the yellowy coloring on the iPhone ones.
However, when you zoom in to look at the details, the iPhone crushes the Pixel. The Pixel 3a was able to get much more detail than the iPhone XS was able to do, and I displayed that time and again in my photo comparisons, but the iPhone 11 Pro’s night mode looks to be so far ahead of the Pixel right now.
Oh note, the iPhone looks to have actually brightened images more than the Pixel in 3 of the 4 cases. So I know there is a contingent of folks out there who think the Pixel brightens Night Sight up like crazy, but initially it seems no more than the iPhone, and is often less bright. But again, small sample size thus far.
And so after a few shots, I can say I’m pleased with the iPhone 11 Pro’s night mode. As someone who is always interested in getting the most information into my photos so I can edit them later and make my favorites really sing, I’ll take more details over better color any day. I can shift the hue a few notches on the iPhone photos if they’re really bad, and I can drop the shadows if night mode brings them up too much, but I can’t get detail that was never there, and by that metric the iPhone 11 Pro is off to a good start.
Bonus: Editing the iPhone Shots
I’m not really happy with the look of the iPhone shots, but here are some 30 second edits on each one to make them look a little more to my taste for nighttime photos.