Google revealed some official Pixel 6 series details this week, which surprised all of us, from its new internal Tensor SoC to design and more. But one of the most important tidbits is that the new phone finally achieved a major camera upgrade.
In particular, the Pixel 6 Pro is finally equipped with a triple rear camera for the first time in the history of the Pixel series, although in a typical Google way, it is a few years later than the competitor’s Android brand. This means that we are equipped with standard cameras, ultra-wide-angle lenses, and telephoto lenses on the same phone, instead of the previous flagship Google phones that let you choose between ultra-wide-angle and telephoto cameras.
However, in addition to the three-camera system, there are more upgrades, which can bring some very beautiful additions and improvements to the Google Pixel camera experience. This is what we expect from the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro cameras.
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The main sensor has finally been upgraded
Perhaps the most significant photographic upgrade is that the Pixel 6 series will get a new main camera sensor. This is a major deal, because Google has been using the same 12MP IMX363 sensor since the Pixel 3 days, and the Pixel 2’s IMX362 sensor is also very similar.
A new, larger sensor may bring some improvements over the old IMX363 sensor, such as improved dynamic range and better details. The latter is especially a complaint in our Pixel 5 review. As we said, the detailed scene image, “looks very busy, with excessive contrast.”
Google stated that the new camera sensor will capture 150% more light than the old sensor (via edge), This means that we should expect improvements in night photos. The Pixel camera app may not need to enable night vision mode as often as its predecessors, because the enhanced light gathering ability and faster processing should provide brighter photos in the standard photo mode.
We have seen that Google also provides night vision portrait mode on Pixel 5, so the improved light capture can take more low-light portrait photos without using night vision or night vision portrait, and not too much on Pixel 5. Dark situations.
A new main camera sensor means that Google may not always have to rely on Night Sight.
We also hope that astrophotographic images and astronomical time-lapse photography will have better results. Hopefully, we don’t need to wait 15 seconds to get a single astrophotography frame, and we don’t need to wait 4 minutes to complete the full shot. Improved light capture capabilities also open the door to more ultra-low-light functions, such as low-light video recording and night time delay.
There is no news about specific camera sensors, but sensors like the 50MP Samsung Isocell GN2 also provide Dual Pixel Pro autofocus technology and support more video quality options (for example, 4K and 8K recording at 120fps). Compared to competitors, Google is usually late in terms of high-resolution video options, but if it adopts such a module, we are definitely looking forward to improved autofocus technology.
The improved autofocus (and exposure) is also in line with the philosophy that Google Camera engineer Isaac Reynolds believed in when the Pixel 4 series was released. In other words, the user should be able to simply open the camera app and get the correct photo without tapping the viewfinder.
Excellent software zoom meets excellent hardware
Pixel 6 Pro is also equipped with a 4x telephoto camera-this is a major upgrade to the 2x telephoto lens of the Pixel 4 series. There is no news about the other details of the 4x camera, but this still makes us excited about the zoom of the new Pixels.
The combination of Super Res Zoom and 4x telephoto camera means that we can therefore expect the Pixel 6 Pro to also provide excellent images with more than 4x zoom. All mobile phones have a threshold for zooming from good to bad, but the threshold of Pixel 6 Pro should be significantly higher than that of Pixel 5 and Pixel 4, with a higher native zoom.
One potential challenge we see in phones with 4x or 5x telephoto cameras (except for the main camera) is that short-range zoom tends to be affected. We have seen companies like Huawei, Oppo and others rely on image fusion technology to solve this problem, combining the results of the main camera and the telephoto camera to provide 2 to 3 times stable photos.
We guess that Google can do the same for photos below 4x, combining the main camera, telephoto camera, and super-resolution zoom. We have seen that some mobile phones use such image fusion technology to reduce edge detail, so this may also be something Google needs to pay attention to.
The new promise of machine learning chips
The Pixel 6 series will also be the first Google mobile phone driven entirely by an internal chipset, called the Tensor processor. We expect Google to use Arm CPU and GPU technology, but the big news here is that the chipset has a TPU (Tensor Processing Unit). This is a machine learning processor that is expected to enable a large number of mobile functions that usually require an Internet connection.
However, this is not the first time we have seen a dedicated Google chip in a Pixel phone, because it has used Pixel Visual Core and Pixel Neural Core before. These chips complete everything from accelerating HDR+ processing and voice inference to enabling 3D face unlocking. But compared with Google’s early chips, TPU promises to carry out larger upgrades, provide greater horsepower, and is also an indispensable part of the entire chipset.
You can also take a look: Why Pixel 6’s Tensor chip is actually important (why not)
Google is also using TPU to improve camera functions, and the company showed several demos edgeOne such demonstration saw a blurry photo of a toddler, and Google ran this photo through TPU to blur the child’s face. The Pixel manufacturer said that in addition to the existing main camera multi-frame processing, it can also use an ultra-wide-angle camera as part of the processing process to achieve facial deblurring.
Another demo that Google touted for TPU is improved HDR video recording. This demo compares Pixel 6 with Pixel 5 and iPhone 12 Pro Max and shoots HDR video (4K/30fps) of the beach. edge Note that the Pixel 6 is among the best because it does not artificially brighten the shadows compared to Apple’s devices, and it looks more natural than both.
Google told the media that it uses the same HDR process for HDR video for still images. We can’t help feeling that this opens the door to an improved continuous shooting mode, which hasn’t been available on Pixel devices for a while.
Google showed off features such as “deblurring” faces and improved HDR video, but more powerful machine learning can bring more features.
Another possibility brought by faster AI chips is that we can finally see the object removal technology touted by Google in 2017. At the time, it showed images taken behind the chain fence, and machine learning was used to remove the fence to provide a clear shot. We haven’t seen this technology since then, but theoretically TPU can enable it as well as general object erasure (as seen on Samsung phones) and reflection cancellation (as seen on Huawei devices).
Google also used machine learning hardware to enable audiophile-centric features, such as double exposure control. This beautiful feature debuted on the Pixel 4 series, allowing users to adjust the shadow level before shooting. Therefore, it is hoped that the TPU will provide more convenient functions in the viewfinder, so that users can reduce the reason for accessing editing applications.
Marc Levoy, former Google employee Admission in 2019 The company has not yet solved the challenge of simultaneously capturing detailed moon and moonlight landscapes in one shot. The former camera chief attributed the difficulty of overcoming this obstacle to the large dynamic range between the bright moon and the dark landscape, while urging people to “keep an eye on it” to understand developments. Google will either shelve this work or simply wait for better camera hardware and machine learning chips. Guess what benefits we have for the Pixel 6 series?
There are still many unknowns surrounding the Pixel 6 camera, but there are many things to be excited about. Are you impressed with the Pixel 6 Pro camera hardware so far? Tell us through the votes and comments above.