Ever since Google debuted Night Sight, people have marveled at how capable the computational photo technology has proven to be. But how does it compare to good old fashion sensor size? Andrew Branch of the YouTube channel Denae & Andrew decided to find out.

In his latest video, Branch pits the Google Pixel 4 and the latest Night Sight technology against the full-frame mirrorless Canon EOS RP in a blind “taste” test that’s meant to simulate how most consumers would try and capture each low-light scene he shot.

Branch is kindly allowing us to share a few of the comparison photos with you below, and you can see all 11 comparison scenes by watching the full video.

Scroll down to see five different scenes, each captured with both the EOS RP and Google Pixel 4’s Night Sight mode. Click on each photo to see it in full resolution, make your guesses as to which photo was shot with which camera, and we’ll reveal the answers at the very bottom.

Comparison 1

#1

#2

Comparison 2

#1

#2

Comparison 3

#1

#2

Comparison 4

#1

#2

Comparison 5

#1

#2

There was a time when comparing the low-light photography chops of a smartphone against a full-frame camera seemed ludicrous, but with the advances in computational photography that we’ve seen from both Google and Apple over the past year, that’s no longer the case. For everyday use and especially for Web consumption, the results that Google is able to produce by combining multiple images on the Pixel 4, despite its tiny image sensor, are downright incredible.

If you guessed that, overall, the Google Pixel 4 photos were the cleaner and brighter of each pair above, you’d be 100% correct. As you can see from the Answer Key, Google’s computational photography allows for much cleaner low-light imagery, despite its tiny sensor, than shooting the EOS RP hand-held:

Answer Key

Comparison 1:

  1. Canon
  2. Google Pixel 4

Comparison 2:

  1. Canon
  2. Google Pixel 4

Comparison 3:

  1. Google Pixel 4
  2. Canon EOS RP

Comparison 4:

  1. Canon EOS RP
  2. Google Pixel 4

Comparison 5:

  1. Google Pixel 4
  2. Canon EOS RP

Now, before the comments section fills up with claims that this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, Andrew wanted to share three important disclaimers that explain why he designed this shootout the way that he did:

  1. Of course the FF camera will do better if multiple photos are stacked and processed in a similar way as the Pixel 4 is doing in post. But the point of the comparison was to see how each performs in-camera.
  2. Of course the results of the FF camera would have been better with a tripod. The point was to compare hand-held.
  3. Of course there are better FF cameras for low-light photography. But the EOS RP is the cheapest Canon FF mirrorless consumer camera, putting it closer in price to the Pixel 4. So that’s why we chose it.

So, would the EOS RP (or any other full-frame, APS-C or M43 camera) have outperformed the Pixel 4 given a tripod and a few seconds of exposure time per shot? Probably. But given the same parameters—the ones most typical consumers are using when they take a low-light photo—it’s clear that computational photography has a major advantage.

Now… imagine what a “real” camera could do given the same hand-held, high-speed image stacking technology. That’s what we’re really waiting for.

Check out the full video up top for more side-by-side comparisons. And if you like this sort of thing, click here to see Andrew and Denae’s blind comparison of Fuji vs Canon color science.


Image credits: Photos by Andrew Branch and used with permission.