Google Pixel 4 XL Smartphone Astrophotography Mode - How Does It Perform?

The Google Pixel 4 has an Astrophotography mode built in but how good is it at actually capturing photos of the night sky? An astrophotographer has been shooting with it, comparing the final images with similar ones captured on a Sony A7S.

|  Google Pixel 4 XL in Camera Phones
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The Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4 XL smartphones were introduced to a very populated flagship smartphone market late last year and to help the smartphones stand out from the crowd, Google added an Astrophotography function to the camera app. 

The Astrophotography mode uses long exposures and some clever software to capture images of the night sky but how good can images of the night sky captured with a camera phone really be? That's the question Astrophotography experts Lonely Speck are asking in their latest video where they also compare the results from the Pixel 4 Astrophotography mode with images captured on the Sony Alpha A7S which is a full-frame mirrorless camera.

Ian was pleasantly surprised with the initial results which captured faint parts of the Milky Way along with plenty of foreground detail. However, sit it alongside the image captured on a Sony Alpha A7S and the result isn't as sharp and colours aren't as accurate either. Still, when you think you're capturing Astro images with a smartphone, you've got to give the Google Pixel 4 XL some slack. 

"In general, it (Google Pixel 4 XL) worked fairly well but I never found that it achieved perfect pin-point focus on the stars," says Ian. 

One big plus point for the Pixel 4 is that the Astrophotography mode is completely automatic which makes it easy for anyone to capture a photo of the night sky whereas using a camera such as the A7S requires more knowledge and work but you will be able to capture images much quicker once you have the know-how when using a 'proper camera'. The Google Pixel 4 XL does make Astrophotography more accessible, though, which means more people can explore an area of photography they might not have considered before which is never a bad thing. 

To use the Google Pixel 4 XL's Night Sight mode to capture images of the night sky, Google recommends the following: 

  1. Go to a very dark area (travel away from the city lights, and start shooting 90 minutes or more after sunset).
  2. Prop your phone on a steady surface, like a rock or tripod. 
  3. When your phone is perfectly still, tap Capture.
  4. Don’t touch your phone until it’s finished taking photos. Your phone will show a countdown timer. Optional: To stop taking a photo, tap Stop.


The Google Pixel 4* and Google Pixel 4 XL* smartphones are available now for £634 and £879, respectively. 


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