You may be wondering what exactly makes the Pixel 4’s camera so good. Compared to its predecessor, it has the same Sony IMX363 sensor and no additional hardware. Well, in addition to fantastic image processing, it also has several fantastic new features that Google has added since they released Pixel 3a last year.
The features recently added to Google Camera and the improvements that Pixel 4a introduced are huge for photography, and that’s what helps to separate Google’s camera from the competition. I’ll give you a little summary of each one below to help you get up.
1. Live HDR +
With Pixel 3a, the viewfinder does not show the effect Google̵7;s HDR + processing will have on the finished photo, so you just have to take it with confidence that the over- and underexposed image you see on the screen will be properly exposed when the file is saved in your camera roll.
Thanks to a new machine learning algorithm, so-called HDRnet, Pixel 4a no longer has this limitation. What you see in the viewfinder is the final photo, HDR + effects used.
2. Double exposure
On most phones, there is only one exposure control that you can adjust. But if you’re a fan of photography, you know it’s not always enough, so Google’s added another.
Pixel 4a has a “Brightness” slider and “Shadows” slider. The former acts as a traditional exposure control, while “Shadows” only affects dark areas. Use this slider to increase the details in dark areas or darken them more to create a silhouette.
3. Night Sight 2.0
In 2018, Google introduced Night Sight, a then revolutionary feature that enabled good photography at night with a phone. With 4a, you have access to Night Sight 2.0, an upgraded version of the feature that can have longer exposure times while capturing, improved machine learning during finishing to maintain color accuracy while even the darkest areas are clearly visible.
4. Frequent faces
With Top Shot and Motion Photos, Pixel 4a usually takes multiple pictures when you press the shutter button. A new feature called Frequent Faces enhances these modes by prioritizing the people you frequently shoot.
For example, if your child is in a multi-person picture, Top Shot recommends the frame where their eyes are open or where they are smiling. For security reasons, this information is stored only on the device and is not available to Google or via the cloud.
5. Framing tips
Not everyone is a skilled photographer. Framing tips help your camera take better photos based on the millions of images it was fed by Google. It recommends that you move backwards if the subject is in focus or recommends that you move the camera higher if you are too low for a selfie and more.
6. Level indicator
Few things are worse than taking a photo, only to examine it to find that it is crooked. When you activate “Framing Tips”, if you hold your photo on a straight horizontal subject, a level indicator will appear. Use this to set your camera so that your image also stays straight.
7. Scan documents
Insert a business card or document into the viewfinder, then press the “Scan Document” button that appears. The camera automatically cuts the photo to the limits of the document, then straightens it and increases the contrast until it looks like you have actually scanned the document. You can then convert it to a PDF, giving you even more controls to change it.
8. Social share
You will be asked to activate a feature called Social Share one of the first times you use your Pixel 4a camera. If you rejected this question, you can activate it manually by pressing the down arrow in the viewfinder and going to “Settings”.
Now, when you take a photo, the preview thumbnail of the captured image will show an up arrow. Select this – or better yet, just swipe up the preview icon in the viewfinder – and you’ll see a list of social networking and messaging apps to which you can share your photo in seconds.
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