I like to take photos at night without a flash. With an iPhone. After too many Caipirinhas. Shaky and blurry, but they beat the flash look any day. Soon they may be perfect thanks to this new dark flash.
Dilip Krishnan and Rob Fergus at New York University have solved the whole oh-god-look-at-everyone-looking-awful-and-red-eyed usual flash photo situation using a new dark flash technique. First, they modified the flashbulb to emit light in a wider spectrum and filter out visible light. Then, they removed the UV and IR filters normally present in camera sensors. This apparently results in making everyone in photos look like a Yugoslavian mafia goon's mug shot. Or maybe just a normal infrared image:
Then, an algorithm adds color: The two scientist make the camera take another photo immediately after the first one, this time without the dark flash. That photo results in the usual grainy picture, but the resulting color information gets combined with the first image to get the image you see at the beginning of the article.
In other words: Magic!
I don't know if manufacturers will ever release a camera for going out at night, but if they can somehow embed this in cellphones, I will happily buy it. [New Scientist]