Holy Pixel 3!

Started 4 months ago | Discussions thread
liopleurodon Contributing Member • Posts: 847
Re: Pixel 2 compared to ILCs

Wayne Larmon wrote:

liopleurodon wrote:

rjjr wrote:

You're talking more artsy stuff, I'm talking generic snapshots. I use my regular cameras for the work/artsy stuff.

How is shooting kids running around artsy? I have a Pixel 2 and its outstanding, but a moving subject = a blurry mess at worst or smudged details and soft focus at best. My Sony mirrorless and Canon DSLR cameras are MUCH better at taking snapshots of my kids moving.

Thanks for posting as a Pixel 2 owner! Most (if not all) of the posts I read that dismiss smartphones aren't talking about Pixels. (I own a Pixel 2.)

I don't think that Google has claimed that they have solved the "kids running around" problem yet, even with the Pixel 3. I don't think that any of the demo shots in the recent DPReview Pixel 3 articles have any kids running around (Or sports. Or BIF, etc.)

Do you agree that if you shoot with your Pixel 2 withing the boundaries that have been described in various Pixel 2 articles and reviews that Pixel 2 images are often comparable to the results that a m4/3 camera with a decent kit lens will give? After discounting any resolution differences.

I use various Canon EOS-M bodies and EOS-M kit lenses and I find that I need to shoot raw with my Ms and tweak out all the data that is in raw files to get the same tonal results (tastefully lifted shadows and pulled down highlights) that Pixel 2 JPEGs give OTC. Such that if I don't need focal lengths that are different than the native Pixel 2's focal length, that there isn't much gain in IQ when shooting with the Ms. (I don't have the kids-running-around situation--I shoot mostly stationary subjects.) And that I have to sweat metering with my Ms (and other Canon cameras), compared to the Pixel 2 most always auto-metering perfectly.

I remain impressed with my Pixel 2 and will be reading the upcoming DPReview Pixel 3 formal review very closely.


I can't speak about m43 image quality versus a Pixel 2 as I haven't owned one. I've gone from Canon APS-C to Sony APS-C and now use Sony FF. That said I can make a few comparisons.

When speaking about static shots and viewing on a cell phone screen can a Pixel 2 match the output (similar dynamic range, color, sharpness etc) of an APS-C sensor? Yes. Can it match a full frame sensor? Jury's out on this one. I just recently had a chance to shoot my Pixel 2 alongside my A7iii with Zony 35/2.8; but haven't reviewed the results yet. From quick comparisons its not looking good for the Pixel 2, that Sonnar lens has astounding contrast and color. Lens choice is really going to matter here too.

Note that in this response a "good" photo is one with the least technical flaws, I'm not commenting on composition/framing/subject, etc. We all know a well composed and framed photo of a subject made interesting to us by the photographer shot on a VGA camera is better than a messy shot taken with a Nikon D850. To me many of these "is X as good as Y" and such comparisons boil down to averages and sustained output. Now while I CAN get similar results on my Pixel 2 as I did with my 80D or a6500 it wasn't in all circumstances or with every shot. For the Pixel 2 output that matched my 80D was either a "stars align" rare moment or a scene that just lent itself to HDR+, usually a landscape with very high dynamic range where I'm shooting the 80D at f/8 robbing it of much of its large sensor advantage. The 80D's results (and a6500 that followed it) were more consistently good. The Pixel 3 shines in high dynamic range static scenes with good light. I cannot match its output in camera with any of my APS-C cameras; I need to post process. I'm curious to see how my A7iii will compare. The Pixel 3 is less impressive in low dynamic range scenes with less light (indoors evening shots).

A few other notes

  • Google's color science is not nearly as good as Canon's. My 80D and SL1 still produced the nicest JPG colors of any photographic device I've owned. The 80D also was very good at nailing the white balance.
  • One of my favorite subjects to photograph are autumn leaves. The Pixel 2's jpegs ALWAYS have a green/yellow cast to them and need adjusting to look right. Both my Canon and Sony ILC's manage to get the colors right in camera.
  • Portrait mode leaves at lot to be desired in real world shooting. I'll paint a scene for you. You're shooting outdoors in the woods. Imagine there's a bit of wind and your subject's long hair is blowing a bit. The Pixel 2 will blur that hair out thinking its part of the background. The edge between blur and focus can be quite jagged too, sometime even enough to be visible at 100%. If your subject has features that create pinhole views of the background (loops in hair, lace fabric, etc) the background through that pinhole will be in sharp focus. Sometimes you can see this at 100%. You also can't rapid fire portraits.
  • The Pixel 2's stabilization is very very very very good in video. From samples I've seen Its every bit the match for Olympus IBIS.
  • The Pixel 2 exhibits noticeable and sometimes distracting rolling shutter, though not as bad as my a6500 to my eyes.
  • The Pixel 2 has ZERO shutter lag. You tap the shutter you get a photo immediately.
  • The Pixel 2's Photosphere or 360 photo is pure magic. They're fun to share and the stitching algorithm does a good job minimizing artifacts.

NOTE: When I talk about the Pixel 2 matching an 80D and such I'm not pixel peeping. If you pixel peep the APS-C camera will have better detail, less smearing, etc. Also your viewing screen matters. What looks good on a smartphone screen doesn't look as impressive on a 4k monitor. Here again the APS-C cameras are preferred.

I personally see the smartphone as supplementary to my ILC. While I may use the ILC to shoot a picture of a building, sculpture, tree, etc. I'll use the Pixel 2 to shoot a photo of any descriptive plaques or signage. I'll take a landscape with my ILC for later post processing and then shoot a quick one with the Pixel 2 that I can text out to friends. If I see something interesting that I want to share (like a shirt I found in a gift shop) I'll snap a pixel photo of it. I'm not going to use my ILC for that.

TL;DR; A Pixel 2 can match the output of an APS-C sensor, but not with every shot or in all circumstances.  On average the APS-C shot will be better than the average Pixel 2 shot.

 liopleurodon's gear list:liopleurodon's gear list
Sony a7 III Sony FE 35mm F2.8 Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 III Google Pixel 3 +3 more
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow