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Question No zoom lens until 5x

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Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
How is it an improvement?

Testing zoom, it still uses the main lens on 1x, 2x ad 4x. Just like the stock camera does.

This is another reason to dislike this phone and to recommend against buying it.
It's a huge improvement in the performance of the main lens at 1x: it entirely gets rid of the over-processing. It seems to be better with the ultrawide as well (although I haven't tested that sensor much). No, it's no improvement with regard to the zoom; in fact, today's results lead me to believe that it's not doing enough to reduce chroma noise on the telephoto sensor.

But it's worth trying it. And I sure wouldn't give up on this phone: it's still miles better than most of the competition. The stock over-sharpening and noise reduction remain subtle relative to, say, the iPhone 13 Pro.
 

96carboard

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2018
550
321
It's a huge improvement in the performance of the main lens at 1x: it entirely gets rid of the over-processing. It seems to be better with the ultrawide as well (although I haven't tested that sensor much). No, it's no improvement with regard to the zoom; in fact, today's results lead me to believe that it's not doing enough to reduce chroma noise on the telephoto sensor.

But it's worth trying it. And I sure wouldn't give up on this phone: it's still miles better than most of the competition. The stock over-sharpening and noise reduction remain subtle relative to, say, the iPhone 13 Pro.

Does the camera application even do any image processing? From what I can tell, image processing is either done at the hal level (before the camera application) or the viewer level (postprocessing, after the camera application.)
 

Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Yes, the camera app seems to be where the sharpening and noise reduction happen, as well as the adjustment of levels. Take a look at the mod, where you have control over aspects of the app's functionality. You can access a "Lib Patcher", and change these parameters yourself: sharpening, chroma and luminance noise reduction, contrast, etc. (Btw, I tried that briefly, without great results, but I didn't put any time into it. The default settings with the main sensor are about right.)

This is a good explanation of the customizations possible with the Lib Patcher:

 
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86rickard

Member
Oct 29, 2018
29
14
As far as I can tell, it simply alters certain parameters, and leaves the rest of the processing in place. You can access a "Lib Patcher", and change these parameters yourself: sharpening, noise reduction, etc. (I tried that briefly, without great results, but I didn't put any time into it. The default settings with the main sensor are about right.)

This is a good explanation of the customizations possible with the Lib Patcher:


What's sad in a way is processing the RAW files can create some really nice, natural, higher resolution images.
I think the current setup is a legacy of Pixels past. The Sensors are worthy of much better processing instead of the hyper boosted effect Google is going down.
 

Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
What's sad in a way is processing the RAW files can create some really nice, natural, higher resolution images.
I think the current setup is a legacy of Pixels past. The Sensors are worthy of much better processing instead of the hyper boosted effect Google is going down.
Yes, no question that you can get much better results out of the RAW files, especially on the periscope lens. And that remains a possibility, of course: shoot RAW! But this "hyper boosted effect" can't be blamed on Google: as I say, they're way less guilty of it than most. The fact is that this is what the market has been taught to value, often by ignorant reviewers.

If you want to compare what kind of processing various phones apply, head over to GSMArena's Photo Compare Tool, where you can pixel-peep at 100%. You'll find few phones that apply less sharpening and noise reduction than the Pixel 6. In fact, only one that I've discovered.

Here, for example, is a comparison of how the stock apps process photos on the S21 Ultra, the Pixel 6, and the iPhone 13 Pro Max. You'll see that the Pixel sharpens the least of the three, and smears way less detail through noise processing than the iPhone does. The S21 Ultra preserves detail well at low light, but introduces serious sharpening halos. Of the three, Pixel has by far the most judicious approach. The only phone I've found that sharpens less is the Vivo X70 Pro+ (which you have to scale to 12MP on this page to compare), but it also seems to yield less detailed images; it would be interesting to see what they look like sharpened in post.

UPDATE: The Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra sharpens a bit less as well, and is a credible performer all around. It does however smear more detail than the Pixel 6: the noise processing is a touch too aggressive.

UPDATE 2: After spending a week with the phone, I'm beginning to wonder about the GSMArena's test sample. I'm finding it impossible to produce jpegs with this little sharpening and noise reduction; theirs look almost like processed RAW files. Has Google been messing around with the sharpening algorithm since these tests were done?


 
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benjmiester

Senior Member
Feb 15, 2012
985
285
Sony Xperia XZ1
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Good luck with that. Truly given the way the entire world is being run right now, its pretty clear that the vast majority of people *ARE* idiots. And that is putting it mildly. So best way to make money is to sell to the majority, who are stupid enough to trust government -- those people clearly can't think for themselves.
Ok.... But the danger of letting people decide which type of zoom to use manually would be _________? Because as I'm seeing things, it surely can't be any worse than leaving it up to internal decision making that isn't disclosed to anyone using the phone. Not to mention it isn't displayed to them during use either. Said idiots have no idea what it's using either way already. So letting them chose could only lead to at worst equal (basically random at this point) or at best better results with it being able to be toggled on when actually intended to be used. Hardly anyone shoots in 4k @ 30 fps and in order to use most of the other camera selling points, one has to drop down to 1080p. Letting them know that disables the telephoto might help weigh their decision to do so.
 

benjmiester

Senior Member
Feb 15, 2012
985
285
Sony Xperia XZ1
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Good luck with that. Truly given the way the entire world is being run right now, its pretty clear that the vast majority of people *ARE* idiots. And that is putting it mildly. So best way to make money is to sell to the majority, who are stupid enough to trust government -- those people clearly can't think for themselves.
Ok.... But the danger of letting people decide which type of zoom to use manually would be _________? Because as I'm seeing things, it surely can't be any worse than leaving it up to internal decision making that isn't disclosed to anyone using the phone. Not to mention it isn't displayed to them during use either. Said idiots have no idea what it's using either way already. So letting them chose could only lead to at worst equal (basically random at this point) or at best better results with it being able to be toggled on when actually intended to be used. Hardly anyone shoots in 4k @ 30 fps and in order to use most of the other camera selling points, one has to drop down to 1080p. Letting them know that disables the telephoto might help weigh their decision to do so.
 
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Gnaius

Senior Member
Aug 2, 2018
90
60
Rome
Google Pixel 6 Pro
Okay, I posted this image in the mod thread, but it's appropriate here too. This is what you can get out of a RAW file, using the 4x zoom when the periscope (19mm) lens kicks in. It's *really* good: the lens is sharp, and the quality of the noise on the sensor is excellent; much like natural film grain. I processed this via Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro, and it's the first time I've really worked with a Pixel 6 Pro RAW file; results will be better, I expect, when I've figured out the camera's characteristics (and even better from the main sensor).

Now we just have to figure out how to get the Google people (or the mod people) to give us control over which lens we're using. For now, however, you can easily see when the periscope goes up, as it were: the image jerks slightly. And it's generally easy to get this to happen, as others have pointed out — just focus first on something far away.
 

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MacGuy2006

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Sep 15, 2006
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For now, however, you can easily see when the periscope goes up, as it were: the image jerks slightly. And it's generally easy to get this to happen, as others have pointed out — just focus first on something far away.
A good image, although it is harder to tell in BW.

For me, it's easy to tell the 4x lens not just by the jerkiness, but also by the quite significant change in white balance from the main lens -- this is a far cry from the consistency on the iPhone 13 Pro, and Google should have paid attention to it and fixed it prior to releasing the phone.
 

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  • 5
    So I noticed that the zoom lens only activates at 5x zoom. You can see this by covering the lens with your finger and zooming in.

    I gather this must mean that the optical 4x lens is fixed at 4x, but as it only kicks in at 5x zoom you can never get 4x optical zoom shots as it is cropped to 5x ?

    This would also mean that up to 5x zoom you are just getting a digital crop of the main lens?

    Am I missing something here? Seems a little weird that you cant get a 4x optical shot with a 4x optical lens fitted.
    Googles periscope lens doesn't kick in a "fixed" manner, it uses an algorithm (ambient light, shaking, distance to object etc) to decide "on its own" when to kick in the dedicated zoom lens. You can easily test this out/replicate this by lowering the light in your room/and or change your distance to your desired object and see that the point where periscope lens kicks in, changes.

    Best just try to focus on the amount of details you can see, if you play around with it, you can quickly see through the Preview when periscope kicks in, since that will improve the amount of details in your preview window significantly.

    Many people here want "fixed" values, but as of now, Google doesn't offer that.

    This is also a big problem in reviews, since those people don't know about this limitation and you can often see a "here, 4x shot, not looking good" and my eyes tell me "jea, that's a digital crop, you m*ron" and none are the wiser.
    3
    I think the conclusion here is the entire camera system really needs work. The hardware is better but the software is letting it down. Jerky transitions, bugs and a processing algorithm left over from the lower quality sensor days that actually over works the 50mp images.
    2
    As far as I can tell, it simply alters certain parameters, and leaves the rest of the processing in place. You can access a "Lib Patcher", and change these parameters yourself: sharpening, noise reduction, etc. (I tried that briefly, without great results, but I didn't put any time into it. The default settings with the main sensor are about right.)

    This is a good explanation of the customizations possible with the Lib Patcher:


    What's sad in a way is processing the RAW files can create some really nice, natural, higher resolution images.
    I think the current setup is a legacy of Pixels past. The Sensors are worthy of much better processing instead of the hyper boosted effect Google is going down.
    1
    The deciding factor on whether it's digital zoom or the telephoto lens is the distance of the object. I estimate the telephoto lens minimum focus distance is around 4 feet. As you go between close and far objects, you can see the stutter between the digital 4x and telephoto 4x. You could always cover the either the main lens or telephoto and figure it out too. What they really need to do is add an icon in the camera app that lets you know it's 4x digital zoom or 4x telephoto.

    This isn't something that's only unique to the 6 Pro.
    1
    What they really need to do is add an icon in the camera app that lets you know it's 4x digital zoom or 4x telephoto.
    This. I think that's the best solution for now, let people know what they have at the moment.