Skip to main content

Google Pixel Astrophotography Made Me Rethink What Smartphone Photography Could Be

Hey, everyone! Though this may change with the introduction of Google's rumored homegrown "Whitechapel" SOC, as of now, the main reasons most people seem to buy a Pixel phone are their value, software, and of course, the stunning photos they can produce. 

The first point, value, mainly has to do with the fact that Google continues to sell its very capable Pixel 4a for just $349 here in the United States, making it one of the most compelling budget Android phones available for sale in this part of the world. Furthermore, another factor that makes it such a great option at that price is Google's software. From the clean Android experience to the frequent updates, there's a lot to like about the software experience on a Pixel. However, as my fellow tech enthusiasts surely know, Google's main claim to fame with its Pixel smartphones has traditionally been their excellent image processing. Though the Pixel 5 may use the same primary sensor as the last few Pixels, its state of the art image processing allows it to take shots that can even compete with the latest flagship offerings from Apple and Samsung. So, perhaps it shouldn't come as a surprise that Google has once again put its image processing software wizardry to use, this time to let you capture the stars.

With this background information provided, I think it's time we get into the main focus of this post: astrophotography! To be more specific, I'm talking about Google Camera's astrophotography mode. This feature has been around for a while now, so it has already been covered a decent bit. That being said, I had the opportunity to take some astrophotography shots in the small town of Elk Rapids, Michigan, so I felt that it could be fun to share my experience and the photos I took.

How It Works
One of my favorite things about shooting on a Pixel is that more often than not, I get a shot that looks very nice without having to put much effort into taking or tuning it.

Just like shooting stills on a Pixel, astrophotography mode is also refreshingly simple. Just enable it, switch to "Night Sight" mode in the camera viewfinder, and put your phone on a tripod so it will stay still while it is capturing the night sky. Once it detects that you want to take an astrophotography shot, the shutter button icon will slightly change to indicate that it is in astrophotography mode. Once you press it, all you have to do is wait a few minutes for the sensor to pull enough light to capture the scene!

The Final Product(s)
Upon the completion of the shot, you will get two different captures. The first is a still image, while the second is a cinemagraph. These are essentially short little animated shots (in the form of an MP4) that capture the scene with a bit more pizzazz. To be honest, they are almost exactly like the moving photographs in the Harry Potter series, and they also have a lot in common with animated GIFs. Both the stills and cinemagraphs are very impressive, and they capture the natural beauty of the night sky in a way that I never thought quite possible in the past, at least on a phone. It's not perfect, but as is usually the case when shooting on Pixel phones, I'm usually more often happy with the astrophotography shots than not. It really is incredible that a budget smartphone is capable of taking genuinely impressive astrophotography shots, and the fact that it can reliably do so is just icing on the cake. For this, Google deserves a lot of credit, as it has managed to make me rethink what smartphone photography can be, while also making it refined enough to be a useful tool rather than a extraneous gimmick. To conclude, I must say that I am quite enamored with the astrophotography mode on my Pixel. If you too get the opportunity to try it out, I would strongly recommend doing so. To put it plainly, it's a ton of fun.

Still don't believe me? To end this post, here are the astrophotography shots I took in Michigan. While I can't say for sure, they might just change your mind!

My Astrophotography Gallery

If you want to see the cinemagraph versions of these shots, you can check out this video I made.

Anyway, I hope you found this somewhat random post interesting, and thanks for reading!

Popular posts from this blog

Late 2014 Mac mini in 2021 - How does it hold up?

Nearly two months ago, I finally got my first Mac: a late 2014 Mac mini. While I usually don't review stuff on this blog, I thought I would make an exception for this device. My hope is that this review will be helpful and fairly unbiased while helping you make a decision on whether or not to get one of these Macs. So, how does this miniature Macintosh hold up today? Design The Mac mini's design has remained largely unchanged over the last decade. There have been a few small updates and tweaks to it, but nothing particularly major. This means that the 2014 Mac mini features the usual premium and minimal aluminum casing with a white status LED on the front. Overall, I'd say this Mac mini's design has held up pretty well! It's very small, being only 8 inches wide and long, while only having a height of 1.4 inches. It weighs a little over 2.5 pounds, so it's not too heavy, either. These dimensions make for a very nice and compact computer, and I think it fits in wi

I made a custom iPod. Should you?

I made a custom iPod. Should you? The goal of this post is to share my experience modding this retro audio player and help you decide if you should attempt this project, too. While this isn't the sort of thing I usually write about on this blog, my hope is that this post will be helpful to those interested in building a custom iPod. So, without further ado, let's begin! The Backstory With the rise of DankPods , modding iPods has quickly become quite popular among retro tech enthusiasts. As someone who had been using iPods for several years prior to their resurgence in popularity, I was intrigued by the idea of making my own custom iPod. This was especially true since I had a broken iPod Video that I could easily mod. Then, something completely unexpected happened: the pandemic. I quickly realized that this would be a great project to work on during the lockdown. As a result, within days of everything shutting down, I had ordered all my replacement parts and prepared

3 years, 2 iOS apps, and a new site

In March of 2018, I wrote my first Tectra program. It was a basic web browser called Satin Web, and it was the first thing I made with C# and Windows Forms. It is now March 2021, three years later, and I am very excited to announce that the next chapter for Tectra is here. After hours of work, I have finally completed my first two iOS apps and have created a new site from scratch to go along with them. There is a lot to cover, so let's begin! iOS Apps TaskNudge TaskNudge is the first of my two iOS apps. It's pretty simple but very handy! Essentially, it lets you write a single, short-term task and get notified to complete it every 1-60 minutes, depending on what you choose. If you are easily distracted when you use your devices, have trouble remembering to do things, or need a bit of a nudge to get something done, TaskNudge might just be the app for you! Best of all, TaskNudge is very simple and easy to use, while being more useful than something like a timer or alarm. Once you