Does the Pixel 4 have a good camera?
- The Pixel 4 has a dual-sensor rear camera that combines 12-megapixel and 16-megapixel parts, and a basic 8-megapixel front camera.
- The Pixel 4’s camera is one of the best on the market for low light photography.
- The lack of a wide angle lens is an annoyance when shooting nature and city scenes.
The Pixel 4’s camera is a marked upgrade on the single sensor setup seen on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. This makes it one of the best currently available, even when compared to stellar competing camera-phones like the iPhone 11 and Huawei P30.
Shooting in regular light the camera app is wonderfully snappy with no noticeable lag between pressing the shutter button and an image being captured.
Photos taken in regular light have decent contrast and don’t look over sharpened, as they can on some competing handsets, such as the Galaxy S10. The app also has a wealth of simple touch up buttons that make it quick and easy to adjust contrast, add vignette effects and generally tweak the image on the fly using easy to understand slider controls.
The custom portrait mode also feels a smidgeon more accurate than the older Pixel 3. Blown up on large screens, portrait shots still suffer from some aberrations but generally the line between the foreground image remains sharp, while the background has a pleasing blur, giving them a noticeably cleaner bokeh.
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A number of improvements have also been made to the Pixel 4’s low light photography. Google claims the additional telephoto lens lets the camera take in more data, which its advanced machine learning tech uses to deliver even better low light shots. Google’s also added a Live HDR+ feature that lets you see what HDR+ photos will look like in the viewfinder before taking them when using the phone’s Night Sight mode.
Testing the feature I did see a number of improvements in image quality, particularly when using Night Sight’s new Astrophotography mode — which works to improve image quality when shooting the night sky. But it was never clear when the HDR+ mode was on, which made it tricky to judge how advanced the feature is/if it works.
Video recording works well enough, though captured audio can sound noisy in windy conditions. 4K recording also put a serious drain on the Pixel’s battery and could cause the phone to heat up to uncomfortable levels during prolonged shoots.
The 8-megapixel front camera works brilliantly for video recording and selfies, though the portrait mode is a little less convincing than the rear cameras’.
You can see a side by side comparison of photos captured on the Pixel 4 and iPhone below. Images taken on the Pixel are on the left, slide right to see those taken on the iPhone 11.
You can see a comparison of low light image with Night Sight on and off below. The image on the left is with the mode off.
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