Google has withdrawn the possibility of taking pictures of the stars with the ultra-wide-angle module of its Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5, without explaining the reasons for this withdrawal.
Two years ago, Google launched a major novelty with its Google Pixel 4 and 4 XL : the astrophotography mode. As the name suggests, it allows to capture starry sky shots with great detail and excellent brightness. This year, Google even extended this mode to the ultra-wide-angle lenses of its Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 … before recently withdrawing it.
As the Gizmodo site indicates, Google has in fact removed the astrophotography mode from ultra-wide-angle cameras from its Pixels. On the one of its support pages , the manufacturer states that “on Pixels 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, astrophotography only works with an equal or greater zoom setting to 1x “. Concretely, this means that only the main module can take advantage of this functionality.
The removal of this mode on the ultra wide angle actually appears to date from version 8.1 of the Google Camera app, released last November. However, the firm did not detail the reasons behind the withdrawal. It could be a lack of brightness of the ultra-wide-angle camera, whose focal aperture is only f / 2.2 on both smartphones, compared to f / 1, 7 for the wide-angle lens. The photosites are no larger on the main sensors, allowing more light to be captured than on the ultra-wide-angle sensors.
Poor quality ultra wide-angle photos
As Gizmodo indicates, several comparisons between the two sensors in astrophotography showed much poorer results with ultra wide-angle lenses. This resulted in more greenish shots with much more digital noise. The removal of this function by Google could therefore be a way to preserve the excellent reputation of its smartphones in the field of photography.
Still, ultra-wide-angle module astrophotography was one of the functions put forward by Google when it presented its smartphones. By removing it, the firm is depriving its users of a function that may have counted for the choice of their smartphone. However, it could be that this deletion is a simple suspension and that Google is looking to improve the user experience to update the functionality. Google has yet to respond to Gizmodo’s questions.