The night has always been the most challenging scene for a smartphone’s camera because of their tiny sensors. But with the development of machine learning and dedicated processes using the “brain” of the smartphone to improve photography, “night modes” have made smartphone cameras spectacular in the dark. Google thinks theirs is so good that they’re offering Google Pixel smartphones for rent as part of an astrophotography tour in Japan.
Achi Village in the Nagano Prefecture is apparently an incredibly popular spot for stargazing in Japan. Google, partnered with Softbank, are offering a visitors who take part in the “Paradise in the Sky Night Tour” (this is Google Translated, I can’t read Japanese), a Google Pixel smartphone for rent for free, to take photos of the night sky.
From the 24th of December 2022 to the 26th of March 2023, the first 100 customers who sign up for the tour will have the chance to rent a Google Pixel smartphone for free for astrophotography purposes. It looks like you will have to pick the “Google Pixel” plan and then pick up your smartphone from the reception inside the summit’s mountain lodge.
These tickets are priced from JPY2,000 (~RM65) for adults or high school students, while children (elementary and junior high school students) have their tickets priced from JPY1,000 (~RM32). From what I can tell there are two ticket purchasing options on the website with the “regular ticket” and the one with the “Google Pixel Plan” so if you want to use the Pixel phone, you should probably pick that option.
On the event site, they even share a couple of tips “from professional photographers” on how to capture the best starry night sky with a Google Pixel, which is probably useful. But one crucial piece of information that’s missing is which Pixel smartphone will be available for rent. It would make sense for Google to offer the latest Google Pixel 7 Pro but I couldn’t find any information confirming this on the site.
Honestly, I think it’s a cool on-ground event to get people to really try out a smartphone’s particular feature because video reviews and demonstrations can only go so far. Official promotional materials tend to use professionals or simulated sequences that you may not be able to recreate yourself, so it’s nice to see phone makers actually put their money where their mouth is.
Even I was skeptical about the effectiveness of Night Mode (and by extension the Google Pixel 3 XL’s selfie camera in low light) back in the day until I just offhandedly took one of the best low light selfies I’ve ever taken without even thinking about it. That was the moment I was converted into a believer in the church of Night Modes. This could be your chance too.
Of course, you’d have to go to Japan first, but I digress.