Sunday, January 24

Google is removing a camera feature from its Pixels without warning

Google has withdrawn the possibility of taking pictures of the stars with the ultra-wide-angle module of its Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5, without explaining the reasons for this withdrawal.

Pixel 5 photo module

Pixel 5 photo module // Gamesdone: Arnaud Gelineau for Frandroid

Two years ago, Google launched a major novelty with its Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL: the astrophotography mode. As its name suggests, it allows you to capture shots of starry skies with great detail and excellent brightness. This year, Google even extended this mode to the ultra-wide-angle lenses of its Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5… before recently withdrawing it.

As indicated on the Gizmodo site, Google has in fact removed the astrophotography mode of ultra-wide-angle cameras from its pixels. On theone of his support pages, the manufacturer indicates that “On Pixels 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, astrophotography only works with a zoom setting equal to or greater than 1x”. Concretely, this means that only the main module can take advantage of this functionality.

The removal of this mode on the ultra wide-angle actually seems to date from version 8.1 of the Google Camera app, released last November. The firm did not however detail the reasons behind this withdrawal. It could be a lack of brightness of the ultra-wide-angle camera, whose focal aperture is only f / 2.2 on both smartphones, compared to f / 1.7 for the large lens. -angle. The photosites are not elsewhere larger on the main sensors, allowing more light to be captured than on the ultra wide-angle sensors.

Poor quality ultra-wide-angle photos

As Gizmodo indicates, several comparisons between the two sensors in astrophotography showed much poorer results with ultra-wide-angle lenses. This resulted in more greenish shots with much more digital noise. The removal of this function by Google could therefore be a way to preserve the excellent reputation of its smartphones in the field of photography.

On the left a wide-angle photo, on the right an ultra-wide-angle photo

On the left a wide-angle photo, on the right an ultra-wide-angle photo on the Pixel 5 // Gamesdone: Jesse Jordan

However, the fact remains that ultra-wide-angle module astrophotography was one of the functions put forward by Google at the time of the presentation of its smartphones. By removing it, the firm deprives its users of a function that could have counted for the choice of their smartphone. However, it could be that this removal is just a suspension and that Google is looking to improve the user experience to update the functionality. Google has not yet responded to Gizmodo’s questions.

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