Pixel 8 Pro’s upgraded camera system offers dream specs for mobile photographers

Google made its Pixel 8 smartphone lineup official today, including the Pixel 8 Pro. This year, the Pro gets a number of camera upgrades, both in terms of hardware and software, that puts a little more distance between it and the non-Pro version. The updates will be welcome changes for anyone looking to get the most out of the camera they always have with them.

The Pixel 8 this year comes with a 50 mp main wide camera with better low-light performance, with a 24mm equivalent when talking in classic film camera focal lengths. That has an f/1.68 max aperture, with an 82-degree field of view and a 1/1.31″ sensor. The main camera also features a 2x “Optical Quality” mode, which basically just crops to the center of the frame to mimic a 2x optical lens. The Pro also features the same main camera, with the addition of Google’s Super Res Zoom digital computational tele mode, which can go up to 8x.

Besides the telephoto, which is present on the Pro and not on the standard 8, the biggest difference between the two camera systems is that the ultrawide on the Pro is vastly improved compared to the non-Pro this year. The 8 has the same 12 MP, f/2.2 ultrawide as last year’s models, but the 8 Pro gets a 48 megapixel Quad PD sensor with f/195 max aperture and improved autofocus performance. Both smartphones get a new Macro Focus mode, but the better ultrawide should help this especially shine on the Pixel 8 Pro.

The 5x optical telephoto is the other big distinguishing factor for the 8 Pro, and this camera also gets an upgrade with a brighter, f/2.8 aperture for the 48 MP sensor. It includes Super Res Zoom up to 30x as well. Besides the cameras themselves, the 8 Pro also has a better autofocus system than the Pixel 8, with multi-zone laser detect autofocus vs. the 8’s single-zone.

With the Pixel 8 Pro you get new pro controls, including manual tuning of things like exposure details, and with a future update, Google is adding additional computational video processing features like HDR+, and Night Sight for video, which will be processed in part on the device, and in part in the cloud on Google’s servers since it’s a fairly heavy processing load to handle strictly locally. Speaking of video, it records at up to 4K with 24, 30 and 60fps options, with slow-mo capture at up to 240 fps, astrophotography Timelapse, cinematic pan and blur options, digital zoom of up to 7x on the 8 and 20x on the 8 Pro and more. Also new this year is the company’s ‘Audio Magic Eraser’ feature, which claims to be able to remove background noise in captured clips.

Google unsurprisingly calls this its “best camera yet” but on paper it’s hard to dispute that claim. We’ll see if it lives up to expectations as we put it through its testing ahead of our forthcoming reviews, and we have some first impressions to check out already.

Read more about Google's 2023 Pixel Event on TechCrunch

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