Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro and Ultra "see in the dark": the results are impressive!

xiaomi night owl camera

If Mi 11 had not thrilled the side camera, with Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro e My 11 Ultra the company definitely moved all-in. Not to mention the innovative Liquid Lens technology shown with My MIX Fold, but that's another story. Today we focus on non-folding, also because they have proven to have the photographic capabilities of real camera phones, word of DxOMark. There are significant differences between the two models in terms of focal lengths, but both enjoy the same brand new primary sensor. The Samsung ISOCELL GN2 looks like an excellent sensor, boasting dimensions of 1 / 1.12 " and pixels from 1,4 um, hardware that would be wasted without adequate software.

08 / 04 Update: the first sample photos of the Mi 11 Ultra night mode are impressive. Find all the details directly at the end of the article.

Xiaomi explains the Night Owl camera of Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra

Precisely for this reason, Xiaomi engineers have created a algorithm designed specifically for the camera of Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra. It is defined Night Owl, or Owl's Eye, precisely to indicate the excellent nocturnal abilities typical of this bird. This software component was created with the three most critical aspects to manage in mind: noise management, stability of the image and chromatic accuracy.

xiaomi mi 11 pro mi 11 ultra

Reduce image noise

When you think of a camera phone, nowadays we have devices that are easily able to return excellent images even at night. But there are contexts in which it is almost impossible to come up with a decent photo, especially when the ambient brightness is almost minimal and close to 0,1 Lux. When the light is so poor, the first problem to face is the visual noise which is obtained by taking a photo. In circumstances like these, traditional software tries to mitigate noise and chromatic aberrations. However, this process is accompanied by the so-called “watercolor effect”, with images having a low level of detail.

xiaomi night owl camera

To prevent this from happening, the Night Owl algorithm used on Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra takes eight consecutive photos with EV0 exposure. Then starts a software processing chain composed of various algorithms that deal with measurement, alignment, reconstruction and color correction. All with the aim of obtaining the best noise reduction effect, increasing the brightness and going as little as possible at the expense of details and colors.

xiaomi night owl camera

Like all algorithms based on artificial intelligence mechanisms, Night Owl is also able to self-regulate and learn from the situations it faces. It is thus able to manage a noise calibration system when the framed scene is extremely dark, thanks also to the training it was subjected to by Xiaomi engineers.

Improve stabilization

The other gripe with night photography is image stabilization. As long as you can take advantage of a good dose of ambient light, the shot happens in a fraction of a second. But when the environment is practically in the dark, it is necessary to rely on the technique of long exposition, for which the camera's electronic shutter needs to be active longer. However, moving the camera at this stage means having a blurred photo, as the sensor captures all the information it gets while the shutter is open. Precisely for this reason, to have an optimal long exposure you need to keep the smartphone still, perhaps with the help of a tripod.

But not everyone always has a tripod at hand, therefore smartphone companies, as in the case of Xiaomi, use software systems to compensate for its absence. The Night Owl algorithm does just that, leveraging an optimized neural network to provide it with high quality data for noise reduction management. Specifically, an EV0 RAW multi-frame technique is used that compensates for those micro-movements of the hand that would risk returning a moved, blurred and less detail image.

Get the most faithful colors possible

Finally, the other parameter that the Night Owl algorithm monitors is that of chromatic fidelity. When dealing with a very dark scene, there are two risks: having an overexposed image with high levels of noise or an underexposed image with an out of phase white balance, usually tending to yellowish.

xiaomi night owl camera

The algorithm that operates on Xiaomi Mi 11 Pro and Mi 11 Ultra used an AI system to measure and correct the acquired color, based on the information obtained from the scene and the sensor. In this way, the photo will appear to have the right degree of illumination, without penalizing too much the color temperature obtained.

Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra night mode offers absurd performance | Sample photos | Update 08/04

xiaomi mi 11 ultra second mini display band 5 2

After having illustrated the improvements offered by the Night Owl algorithm in a more technical way, it is time to take a look at the first photographic samples in night mode di Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra. The result is truly impressive, with a quality that allows him to obtain brightly lit shots even in the darkest conditions.

As seen above, the new algorithm is able to reduce the noise in shots taken in low light conditions, correcting the colore and improving stabilization e focus. All this translates into a night mode capable of "seeing in the dark", as can be seen from the images above.

In light of all the software improvements seen in the article, we invite you to take a look at this first one photographic comparison between Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra, Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, OPPO Find X3 Pro and OnePlus 9 Pro.

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