Google Nexus 6 camera review
The Google Camera app that comes pre-installed on the Nexus 6 doesn't offer much in terms of manual control but comes with a few interesting and pretty unique features such as Lens Blur or Photo Sphere that we had a closer look at in a hands-on article some time ago. There is also an unusually large selection of panorama modes. If you want to expand the feature set you'll find an abundance of options in the Google Play Store.
Unlike the HDR modes on most smartphones Google's HDR+ mode does not only increase dynamic range in high-contrast scenes but can also, as we found out in our testing, improve the overall image quality in low light situations.
In high-contrast scenes HDR+ mode works efficiently. In the sample below some clipped highlights have been recovered on the subject’s skin but the mode’s impact on the shadow areas is fairly subtle, making the resulting image look very natural. In the 100% crop you can see that the HDR+ image looks a little softer than a standard image. HDR+ images still show a lot of detail but sharpening appears to be much weaker, actually given them a less processed and more pleasant look. The mode is dealing very well with moving subjects in the scene and we could not find any ghosting or other artifacts in our samples.
In the second sample below we can again see that HDR+ tends to lift shadows only very slightly, expanding the dynamic range of the scene without giving it an artificial look. Pixel-level detail is a touch softened and with lower contrast but overall many users might find the HDR+ output preferable to the standard mode image.
As we have mentioned above, HDR+ does not only increase the dynamic range of high-contrast scenes but also does a great job in low light. The image below was taken indoors in low light levels. As you can see the tonal differences between the two exposures are negligible but the HDR+ image shows noticeably better preserved fine detail and more finely grained luminance noise.
In addition HDR+ can achieve better exposures in scenes that are too dark for the standard mode. The image below was taken in very low light inside a candle-lit chapel. In standard mode the camera uses the maximum available ISO and slowest shutter speed but the resulting exposure is still very dark. HDR+ captures a brighter image that also has noticeably less noise, better detail and improved edge definition over the standard image.
Generally the HDR+ results make it worthwhile to keep the mode activated all the time, even though it takes approximately one second for processing after you hit the shutter. In most situations the image quality benefits will outweigh the slightly slower operation.
Panoramas and Photo Sphere
The Google Camera app comes with a range of panorama options including a fisheye, wide angle and a 360 degree spheric panorama option called Photo Sphere. They all work in a very similar way. At first a small 'framing window' appears at the center of your screen. This is used to frame the first image of your -- at this point -- 'empty' panorama or sphere. Inside the frame you'll see a blue dot and a circle which need to be aligned for the first image to be captured.
Once the first image has been taken, more blue dots appear above, below, left and right to indicate where you should to point your device to continue capturing the individual frames to create your panorama. Once all dots have been covered the capturing process has finished and the app starts processing the output image.
Since the Google Camera panorama mode is working with single frames instead of the video stream, unlike many other smartphone cameras, it is capable of stitching very large output images with a lot of detail. However, there are usually also quite a few noticeable stitching errors and artifacts caused by moving subjects.
Fisheye mode works the same way as all other panorama modes and covers an extremely wide image angle that usually includes the photographers's feet. As with the horizontal panorama above, under close inspection you'll probably find a few stitching errors and blurry areas.
The Photo Sphere below shows the same imperfections as the images above but still provides an impressively immersive viewing experience when viewed in the device's Gallery app or in the Google+ image viewer. We covered Photo Sphere in an extensive hands-on article when it was first announced as a stand-alone app. Google has made minor improvements to the function since then and integrated it into the Camera app but the basic concept and operation have remained the same.
Sigma says its 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport lens is set to hit shelves by the end of December 2018 at a retail price of $1,499.
DxO PhotoLab 2.1 brings a collection of new features to MacOS and Windows users alike.
The new 'Elegant' lens series includes entirely manual F2.4 lenses in 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm focal lengths.
A feature alerts pilots visually and/or verbally when their drone is approaching airspace that is unsafe or areas where drone flying is not permitted.
GoPro announced Monday morning that it plans to move production of United States-bound cameras out of China, citing tariffs concerns.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 combines a sensible sub-$500 price tag and excellent performance, providing a portrait-friendly 85mm equiv. view on Sony's APS-C mirrorless cameras.
Azriel Knight of the YouTube channel This Old Camera explains the history of DX encoding.
The 250mm F4 is Fujifilm's longest lens for its medium-format system. It's equivalent to about 200mm on a GFX camera, and we put it to work on some portraits as well as some scenes around Seattle's waterfront – take a look.
Sony has removed the ability to download firmware version 2.0 for its a7 III and a7R III mirrorless cameras from its website.
Handing out awards for the best gear of the year is a big job, so we called in some reinforcements from Calgary to help us.
A new patent from Canon lays out the schematics for a speedbooster-style adapter for mounting Canon EF lenses onto EOS M cameras, but with a variable baffle to reduce the risk of flare.
The Jackson Hole Travel and Tourism Board has started a campaign asking visitors to stop geotagging their specific locations when visiting Wyoming's national parks.
Film simulation app Filmborn has been updated with new presets, features, and overall improved support on Apple's latest mobile operating system and devices.
The Colorado Tripod Company has introduced what it claims is the world’s first titanium tripod system, with a funding campaign on Kickstarter.
We've been shooting with the LX100 II both in and out of the studio, as part of our ongoing review. We're pretty impressed, so far, with the revised JPEG color and addition of a touchscreen both noticeable improvements.
An upcoming Xiaomi smartphone might use a 48MP sensor for pixel-binning, high-quality digital zooming and other algorithm-powered imaging features.
It's not cheap, but you may soon be able to get your hands on peel apart film once again thanks to ONE INSTANT.
Skylum's Luminar 3 arrives on December 18 with the long-awaited ability to manage your photo library. However, it won't be a full DAM (digital asset manager); the company plans to roll out features throughout 2019 and won't charge for updates from Luminar 2018 during that time.
Hasselblad has released an update to its Phocus post-production software that brings new and updated tools, as well as updated native lens support.
Nikon's IPTC Preset Manager, a tool for creating predetermined sets of metadata, has received an update. Version 1.1.0 no longer uses Microsoft Silverlight, sheds the network connection requirement, adds extended language support, updates support for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10, and ends support for Windows Vista and Windows XP.
Insta360 has launched a software update for its One X 360-degree camera and announced a camera bundle exclusively available on Apple.com.
Xiaomi has laid out the details for its new AI-powered image processing platform DeepExposure.
The Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chipset is expected to power most 2019 high-end Android phones, including the Samsung Galaxy S10.
Camera app developer Hipstamatic says it has found a way to use the depth data generated by the iPhone X to improve the way its TinType app works out which areas of a picture to render out of focus.
If you're looking for a high-quality camera, you don't need to spend a ton of cash, nor do you need to buy the latest and greatest new product on the market. In our latest buying guide we've selected some cameras that while they're a bit older, still offer a lot of bang for the buck.
The Verizon-owned social network platform Tumblr has announced it will be removing all adult content - including photos - from its platform starting December 17th, 2018.
Guests who would rather spend time actually enjoying their Swiss vacation can now do so while still maintaining a presence on social networks, thanks to Ibis Switzerland Hotels' new social media sitting services.
Two challenges to Apple’s claim that its iPhone X can shoot studio quality portraits have been turned down by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
We take a head-to-head look at the Apple iPhone Xs's bokeh effect versus a 58mm Nikkor lens on full-frame. The results? Well, we're pretty impressed.