The Pixel camera. A lot has been said about Google’s camera prowess, about how the company has taken computational photography to new highs and why the new Pixel 7 Pro camera deserves your attention. The camera on the Google Pixel 7 Pro may not represent a significant jump (in terms of the spec sheet) over its predecessor – the 6 Pro. Most Indian consumers have not experienced the Pixel 6 Pro; the last flagship Google Pixel to launch in India was the Pixel 3. It’s why the new Pixel 7 Pro camera has become a major talking point for Google. Just how good is this smartphone camera?
I’ll start by saying that the headline might be a tad misleading. I haven’t used a pro cam and have always leaned on smartphone cameras for all my travel photography. The iPhone Pro models and Samsung’s Ultra have been my ‘go to’ mobile shooters during the past couple of years. While the iPhone nails video, the S22 Ultra (and the S21 Ultra before it) have set the standard for zoom photography. I ditched both these devices and travelled with the Pixel 7 Pro for about three weeks. A trip that took me through the streets of Philadelphia, views of the Manhattan skyline and a back country camping trip in Yellowstone National Park. Enough scenarios to put the different features of the 7 Pro through the scanner.
Google’s Pixel smartphones have led the way with software optimisations for their camera. It’s why you can’t evaluate a Pixel cam purely on it’s hardware. The Pixel 7 Pro combines a 50MP primary lens (f/1.9) , 48MP telephoto lens (f/3.5) and 12MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide lens. The telephoto lens is the big differentiator between the Pixel 7 Pro and the entry-level Pixel 7. You can shoot up to 5x optical zoom and 30x digital zoom. As far as video goes, you can shoot up to 4K @30/60 fps. There’s also a 10.8 selfie shooter (f2.2) in the mix
Macro mode: Just like the iPhone Pro phones, the Pixel 7 Pro’s wide-angle lens switches automatically to macro mode (you can disable it by using the flower icon that pops up when you get up close). I was at Longwood Gardens in Philadelphia with numerous varieties of flowers. The results were very good and on par with what we’ve experienced with the iPhone.
Lowlight: This is where Google hits it out of the park with Nightsight. I shot in absolute darkness at our campsite on the edge of Icy lake at Yellowstone National Park and the results were spectacular. There are some images where the only light source was a camp fire and other images shot in complete darkness.
Zoom: you can see the results of the City Hall Philadelphia, the world’s largest standing free-masonry building. The details are very impressive as the zoom progressed and I attempted to capture a statue on top of the building. This is still an area where the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra with its 10X optical zoom trumps the 5X zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro.
Videos: An area where the Google Pixel has made tremendous progress. I remember our tests with the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 where we always felt that videos were a weak link for the Pixel. Videos are terrific in lowlight and the new cinematic blur mode (that works similar to Cinematic mode on the iPhone 13 and 14) is quite good. We prefer the results on Cinematic Mode on the iPhone.
Google smarts: there are two cool tools that you’re likely to use a lot. My favourite is Magic Eraser that you can use to eliminate annoying Photo bombers. It works well but there are times when removing people from the images (you can check out two sets of images that we’ve used this feature on) can create pixelation. But it’s still a terrific tool that no other brand can rival. The other is Photo unblur that allows you to fix images (even images shot on other devices). I pulled out a school group picture and cropped myself out of it before applying the ‘unblur’ option and it worked very well.
The short answer is yes. The Pixel 7 Pro is one of the best smartphone shooters and probably the best at its price. It’s up there with the iPhone 14 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra (that both cost more) and does some things even better than these two devices. We’re excited to see a device that challenges the domination of the Samsung and iPhone status quo in the camera department and offer one more option for camera buffs like me who don’t lug pro cams around.
The Google Pixel 7 Pro (12GB/128GB) costs Rs 84,999. It comes in Hazel, Snow and Obsidian. Check out cashback and exchange offers that can further bring down the cost of these devices.