Google has new camera hardware in the Pixel 6 Pro but is it better than last year?
Google Pixel 6 Pro’s camera VS Pixel 5’s
With the introduction of the Pixel 6 Pro, and, to a lesser extent, the regular introduction of the Pixel 6, Google has (finally) revamped its smartphone’s camera package. But can the new flagship actually take better-looking photos than the 2020 Google Pixel 5? The long-awaited switch between Pixel 5 and Pixel 6 is the introduction of a much larger main image sensor. The durable 12.2MP 1 / 2.55 “Sony IMX363” used in several generations of Pixel smartphones reserves a much larger space for the 1 / 1.31 “main sensor, which seems to be the behaviour of the Samsung Iscocell GN1. The Pixel 6 Pro also features a 4x telephoto camera, which provides a much wider range for mobile phones than previous cameras. In addition, the custom Google Tensor SoC includes new machine learning capabilities that are tightly integrated with the Pixel 6 imaging pipeline. Google’s impressive HDR, night mode, and astrophotography algorithms are already running on the Pixel 5’s midrange hardware, but Google has extended the improved ML capabilities of the new chip. So it would be interesting to see how the new processor makes a difference in terms of image quality. Find out what they are in this Google Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 5 camera shootout.
General Image Quality
Checks If you don’t see the difference between any pictures taken by the Pixel 6 and Pixel 5, you’re not alone. The amazing number of recordings we make is almost indistinguishable, at least at first glance. These two main cameras offer very realistic colours, excellent exposure, and solid white balance. Given the similarities, it’s hard to believe that the Pixel 5’s camera hardware is basically the same as the basic hardware since the 2017 Pixel 2 image. However, when it comes to general presentations, there are some regular differences between the two. In addition to the slightly wider field of view of the Pixel 6 Pro, there are also very subtle but consistent differences in saturation, exposure, and white balance. The Pixel 6 Pro is often slightly brighter when it comes to exposure. This can be seen in the cityscape and pumpkin images above. However, when it comes to daytime shots with the main camera, overall, there are surprisingly small differences between the Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 5. To distinguish these two cameras from each other, we need to scrutinize and experiment with a more sophisticated recording environment.
More megapixels, more details?
With these new 50-megapixel main image sensors, I think the Google Pixel 6 and 6 Pro can capture much clearer images than the Pixel 5. However, new phones reduce the image to 12.5 MP, which is not an option to take pictures at higher resolutions with the standard Google Camera app. Still, will the larger sensor help the Pixel 6 capture more light than the Pixel 5 and solve more details?
Let’s take a look at the 100% crops. It doesn’t seem to be the case in the brightly illuminated areas above. The Pixel 6 Pro looks a bit sharper in terms of post-processing, but the 100% trimming doesn’t have any additional resolvable details. The Pixel 5 can certainly catch up, but small sensors often work well in many bright outside lights. The Pixel 5 is a bit softer indoors. Shadows also have low levels of noise. The Pixel 6 Pro definitely takes sharper images, but you really need to look at the pixels to notice it. Cloudy looking images are more complex. Again, the Pixel 6 Pro looks sharper and generally less noisy, especially when you focus on the tree in the centre of the subject. However, new smartphones are even more polluted with some trees that aren’t visible on the Pixel 5. The Pixel 6 Pro isn’t always good at capturing details.
After extensive training, Google’s high-end Pixel 6 Pro has proven to be a more flexible shooter than last year’s Pixel 5, especially when it comes to long-range and low-light photography. However, it is often very difficult to distinguish between sunlight, ultra-wide, and even portrait shots. Despite the big differences in hardware on paper, the Pixel 5 still offers competitive details, HDR and portraits.