Google aims to change the definition of good photography with Pixel 4’s software-defined camera – TechCrunch


Google’s new Pixel 4 camera offers a ton of new tricks to improve its photographic chops, and to emphasize the point, it had Professor Mark Levoy, who leads camera technology development at Google Research, up onstage to talk about the Pixel 4’s many improvements, including its new telephoto lens, updated Super Res Zoom technology and Live HDR+ preview.

Subject, lighting, lens, software

Levoy started by addressing the oft-cited saying among photographers that what’s most important to a good photo is first subject, then lighting and followed after that by your hardware: i.e. your lens and camera body. He said that he and his team believe that there’s a different equation at play now, which replaces that camera body component with something else: software.

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Lens is still important in the equation, he said, and the Pixel 4 represents that with the addition of a telephoto lens to the existing wide-angle hardware lens it offers. Levoy also offered the opinion that a telephoto is more useful generally than a wide angle, clearly a dig at Apple’s addition of an ultra-wide-angle hardware lens to its latest iPhone 11 Pro models.

Google Pixel 4 Camera

In this context, that means Google’s celebrated “computational photography” approach to its Pixel camera tech, which handles a lot of the heavy lifting involved when it takes a photo from a small sensor, which tend to be bad, and turns that into something pretty amazing.

Levoy said that he calls their approach a “software-defined camera,” which most of the time just means capturing multiple photos, and combining data from each in order to produce a better, single, final picture.

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What’s new for Pixel 4

There are four new features for the Pixel 4 phone powered by computational photography, which include Live HDR with dual-exposure controls, which shows you a real-time image of what the final photo will look like with the HDR treatment applied, instead of just giving you a very different-looking final shot. It also bakes in exposure controls that allow you to adjust the highlights and shadows in the image on the fly,…



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