(Pocket-lint) – Google has officially announced the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro, its two new flagship devices for 2022, with the Pixel 7 Pro leading the charge.
There’s a lot packed into these devices, but all the attention is going to be on the Pixel 7 Pro and what it brings to the camera experience.
That’s what the Pixel family is known for, changing the game when it comes to computational photography.
Here’s a rundown of everything that’s coming to the Pixel 7 Pro cameras – and whether you’re likely to get it as a software update on older Pixel devices too.
New 5x telephoto lens
There’s a 48-megapixel telephoto camera on the Pixel 7 Pro, but it now offers 5x optical zoom from that periscope lens – compared to 4x optical zoom on the old Pixel 6 Pro. This enables Super Resolution Zoom out to 30x on the Pixel 7 Pro. As this is driven by hardware, it won’t be coming to other devices.
However, there’s some clever software driving this camera system that boosts the zoom quality across the range. From the main sensor pixel binning is used to take photos from 50-megapixels to 12.5-megapixels. That’s standard, and designed to allow a greater surface area for the capture of light.
However, once you start zooming – and before you get to the 5x optical lens – the Pixel 7 Pro will do some clever things. That includes taking data from both the main camera and the telephoto and using a machine learning model to increase the quality of that digital zoom on the main lens. This will boost the quality between 2.5x and 5x.
At the 5x mark you move to the telephoto and again use pixel binning, then sensor cropping for the zoom, and finally there’s AI and ML upscaling all aiming to deliver better results.
Some of this software side is on the Pixel 7 – so there’s no reason why it couldn’t be applied to the older Pixel devices too, as it’s just software, but Google might argue that it needs the Tensor G2 to power it.
Ultra wide auto focus and macro shooting
The ultrawide camera on the Pixel 7 Pro will now offer autofocus. That will not only improve the quality of the images you get, but will give you the added advantage of now being able to capture closer-range photos.
That will power the new macro feature on Pixel 7 Pro. This isn’t going to be the really close magnification that some have offered, but will mean that if you want to get slightly closer to something, you can do it without having to use the zoom.
As this is hardware dependent, it’s likely to be on the Pixel 7 Pro only.
The Pixel 6 introduced Face Unblur, designed to detect a smeared face and correct it for a better photo, but now Google is going further. Photo Unblur will use a new machine learning model to examine your photo and reduce the blur.
The result should be better photos and that should give you better results if there is any camera shake, for example in low light or from movement.
But the good news is that this doesn’t just apply to photos you take on the Pixel 7 models – it can also be applied to images in the Google Photos catalogue. As it’s software driving, it’s highly likely that this feature will become available to all Pixel users within Google Photos.
Night Sight speed improvements
Night Sight has always been a highlight of Pixel cameras and has been widely replicated by other brands. Google has done some work to speed up the process on the Pixel 7 devices. According to Google, it is now 2x faster than on the Pixel 6.
We suspect that this comes down to better image processing models, so that software could be applied to older devices – but it might also rely on the power from Tensor G2, so the experience might be best on the Pixel 7.
This is part of the camera, but really an accessibility feature. It’s designed to help those with impaired vision to take selfies. It will guide the user via voice feedback so they can get themselves in the frame and take that shot with greater ease.
Dual: Basically BeReal
There’s a new function that will let you capture images from the front and rear camera at the same time. It’s called Dual and it’s been popularized by trends like BeReal recently. It’s not entirely new, Nokia offered this feature in the past, calling it a “bothie”.
Again, it’s fairly simple, so we suspect it will be available through a camera app update on other Pixel devices.
Cinematic blur in video
Google is looking to offer better bokeh options in video with a new feature called Cinematic Blur. This will allow you to add a shallow depth of field effect at 24fps for that big screen experience.
This is again a software feature, but could potentially have high hardware demands so might be limited to the Tensor G2 devices.
HDR across more apps
There are expanded 10-bit HDR capture options on the Pixel 7, including integration into common apps like Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. It should mean that you can get better quality results in those applications when you’re sharing HDR video.
Writing by Chris Hall.