We’ve always loved Google Pixel phones for their fantastic cameras. The new version of the phone, the Pixel 5a, comes with some minor improvements over the older generation. However, the camera hardware remains identical to the previous model. With that in mind, it’s still worth asking whether the Pixel 5a camera holds up in 2021. To answer this, photographer Alex Zhang takes a deep dive into the phone’s camera system and shares his thoughts:
The Pixel 5a is a mid-range phone, but it does not feel cheap in any way. While the camera hardware may not be best in class, the software sets Pixels apart. Pixel phones benefit from an excellent image-processing algorithm that helps them take fantastic photos. But is world-class software enough to produce quality images? Zhang takes a closer look at the images and even pixel peeps them to answer the question.
The main camera in the Pixel 5a is a 12-megapixel dual pixel sensor with OIS and 77-degree field of view, which is equivalent to a 24mm lens. The ultrawide camera has a 16MP sensor with a 118-degree field of view, equivalent to 11mm. As for your selfies, it has an 8MP front camera with a fixed focus. Sadly, the phone does not come with a telephoto lens.
In the series of tests that Zhang runs, we can see that the images are sharp and detailed. Even the corners retain the details. And even when using the wide-angle lens, distortion is not very visible, thanks to Google’s magical software.
As Zhang points out in the video, you can notice some level of noise in the shadow regions. But they’re not very distracting and within acceptable limits. Don’t let this make you think the Pixel 5a can’t operate in low-light conditions: you will be blown away by how good the “Night Sight” works. Using this mode, the images come out so much better—though the images come out a bit warmer. However, it’s nothing you can’t fix in post with minimal effort, if you want.
“It is really unfortunate that the Google Pixel 5a doesn’t have a pro mode.”
If you’re a photographer who likes to take control of all the settings, you might be disappointed to know that the Pixel 5a doesn’t feature a pro mode. This would have helped out a lot especially in tricky lighting situations or for taking creative photos. So if shooting manual is important to you, you might not like the Pixel 5a.
Be sure to watch the full video for a complete review of the Pixel 5a from a photographer’s perspective. If you’re looking to get one for yourself for photography purposes, you’ll find the insights very helpful.
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