The Pixel phones have been out for several weeks now, and a lot has been said about the camera. I will try to comment on some of the things that I’ve felt have been a bit overlooked, in a deeper dive into the Google Camera 4.2 on the Pixel XL. Most of the issues, if not all, should also apply to the smaller Pixel phone.
A note on pixel size, sensor size, and aperture
Starting with last year’s Nexus phones, Google has been advertising “bigger pixels” in their camera sensors, frequently pointing out their 1.55µm size in marketing materials. Relatively speaking, they’re larger than the ones on most other phones and should lead to lower noise, at least according to common belief. Read More
High Dynamic Range, or HDR for short, is quickly gaining ground in the media industry. In a nutshell, HDR videos have a much higher contrast and color range than standard video content - essentially making the video more true to real life. Google's Chromecast Ultra, the PlayStation 4, Xbox One S, some Blu-ray players, and various other devices all support the playback of HDR video. Read More
As with all devices formally announced today at Google's event (so far), we already knew about the Chromecast Ultra. The name and price was leaked two weeks ago, and not long after, the first images of the device appeared. After 30 million Chromecast devices have been sold, Google has formally announced the Chromecast Ultra.
The new device has the same hockey puck shape as the current Chromecast, but now with a 'G' logo in the place of a Chrome design. As expected, the Ultra will be capable of 4K playback with HDR and Dolby Vision. Read More
NVIDIA is taking advantage of the excitement around Google I/O to announce some improvements to its own Android hardware. The SHIELD TV is getting some interesting new capabilities with its next update, version 3.2. Specifically, it will be the first Android TV hardware to support High Dynamic Range (HDR) video - that's something that's coming to Android N later, but NVIDIA wants to get a jump on the competition. Read More
Android TV didn't get much screen time at the opening keynote of the Google I/O developer conference, but there were a few goodies mentioned for upcoming builds. Specifically, VP of engineering David Burke showed off a new picture-in-picture mode that allows users to continue a streaming video while doing something else in the main ATV user interface, such as performing a voice search or downloading an app. Read More
Google's Camera app isn't the most advanced tool for taking photos. It completely avoids manual controls and generally lags behind OEMs for most major features. Where it's lacking in advanced features, the Camera app tries to make up for with a simple interface and clever techniques to intelligently deliver better photos without putting the burden on users. This means it works pretty well for simple point-and-shoot purposes, but skilled and professional photographers aren't likely to give it a second look. A teardown of a recent Camera update shows that Google is testing an option to save both RAW and JPEG files with each picture, a popular feature on many dedicated cameras and high-end smartphones. Read More
Remember when the camera on Nexus phones was sort of terrible? Yeah, it looks like that's about to change.
Google is betting big on photography this year. The Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P include significant enhancements to both the front and rear camera modules. On the back of both phones is a 12.3 megapixel Sony sensor with impressively large 1.55 micron pixels, an f/2.0 lens, laser autofocus, and dual LED flash. The front-facing camera module now sports an 8 megapixel sensor with HDR+, "so you can get the world's best selfies" on your Nexus phone.
To match the new hardware, Google has also announced updates to the camera app as well. Read More
On the last episode of Android Police Teardowns, Google's plans for Smart Burst were revealed. Soon, Creations are going to become an innate part of the Camera app, giving users their own collages, animations, group pictures with the best possible smiles, and even pictures styled as if they were taken in a photo booth. Many questions remain. Will Google finally make the most out of the Camera 2 API? Will there be slow motion and HDR modes? And will readers get that this intro is just a goofy bit modeled after old TV shows that awkwardly explain the whole previous episode in 30 seconds before continuing with the story? Read More
One of the many photography-oriented announcements made during today's Google+ event was Snapseed's new HDR Scape filter, one which promised to produce awesome photos with a dynamic range that's deliciously high.
Unlike stock camera HDR modes, Vic Gundotra was sure to point out on stage today that Snapseed's HDR Scape filter doesn't approximate tonal mapping effects by measuring pixel brightness, but instead detects pixel edge contrast, which according to Gundotra should produce more realistic effects, close to what you might achieve with a set of bracketed exposures from a "real" camera.
Pixel edge contrast, for those wondering, is basically the difference in tone between (as you may expect) the edges of two pixels. Read More
There are a few surefire ways to get straight to a consumer's heart, and one of them is nostalgia. People love to be reminded of the good old days, and Sony has done just that, uploading a new Xperia Z spot that will take viewers back to the moon mission, the Berlin wall, roller skating on the beach, and playing video games, all with Sony products.
The ad then continues with a young couple joining in a Holi celebration using the Xperia Z, showing that Sony hasn't abandoned its iconic role in capturing or enhancing your most memorable moments. The video finishes by showing that, after running through plumes of colored powder and revelry, you can simply rinse the phone clean – after all, it's waterproof. Read More