Google unexplainably removes wide-angle astrophotography from Pixel phones
"Version 8.1 of the camera app, as spotted by 9to5Google, no longer lets users select the 16MP 107-degree wide-angle camera when shooting in the specialized mode."
Google initially allowed users to shoot astrophotography pictures using the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5‘s primary or ultrawide cameras. Now, it seems that the firm has noiselessly removed this choice in the latest Google Camera app.
Version 8.1 of the camera app, as spotted by 9to5Google, no longer lets users select the 16MP 107-degree wide-angle camera when shooting in the specialized mode. Instead, the app now limits users to the 12MP primary shooter at 1x times zoom or greater. The feature was a selling point of the Pixel 4 and was available on the regular and telephoto cameras.
The astrophotography feature lets users capture the night sky by pointing their phone up and keeping it still, either by balancing it on a nearby object or putting it on a tripod. The feature is still available on the phones’ other cameras, but if you go to Night Sight mode and switch to the ultra-wide-angle camera you’ll now get a warning saying “Zoom to 1x for astrophotography.” Before the update, it would say “Astrophotography on.
It’s unclear why Google quit the ultra-wide shooter from the stargazing fun, but it may be down to the snapper’s overall quality in this regard. Posts on Google’s Pixel Help forums add reliance to this. One user explains that while shooting stars at 1x is “amazing,” shots from the wide-angle lens are “awful, green, blotchy, and full of noise.” Multiple users on this thread repeat this opinion, too.
This may be due to the design of ultrawide shooters themselves, which sacrifice light and overall quality for a more expansive field of view. This is even more apparent when light is lacking especially when capturing the night sky.
While Google’s move might be an attempt in improving the overall quality of astrophotography on the Pixels, it does morosely cleared the phones of a mode that would make it a more enjoyable experience.
It’s unclear if Google may be working on a more refined rework for the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5’s wide-angle astrophotography smarts, but for now, it’s been taken away.
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