Google has been a driving force of computational imaging for a long time, so it's hardly a surprise camera performance and imaging features have been a priority on its Pixel smartphone line since its inception. The latest Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are no exception and come with many updates in the imaging department.

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Looking at camera hardware, the Pixel 8 Pro offers faster apertures in all three camera modules and a larger sensor with higher resolution in the ultra-wide camera, when compared to last year's Pixel 7 Pro. The updates are a little less exciting on the Pixel 8 which has the Pro model's main camera but uses the same ultra-wide hardware as the Pixel 7 generation, and has to make do without a dedicated tele module, relying on digital cropping and blending for zoom.

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On the software side, the new Pro Controls (on the Pixel 8 Pro only) allow for greater control over shooting parameters such as shutter speed, ISO, white balance and focus. Pro Controls also offers DNG file output and JPG images at 50MP resolution. The Pixel 8 doesn't gain the Pro Controls option but can shoot 12.5MP DNGs created from combined images, if you wish.

'Best Take' allows users to select the best facial expression for portrait subjects and in group shots. For additional insight into the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro's camera updates make sure to read our Pixel 8 camera deep dive.

Google's latest Pixel phones look like an enticing option for photo and video-centric smartphone users. Read on to find out how well they worked in the real world.


Key specifications Google Pixel 8

  • Tensor G3 chipset, 8GB RAM, 128GB / 256GB storage
  • 6.2" OLED Actua display (60-120 Hz, up to 1400 nits HDR and 2000 nits peak brightness)
  • Main camera: 50MP Type 1/1.31 (9.8 x 7.4 mm) Octa PD sensor, 25mm equivalent, F1.68 aperture, OIS, EIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP sensor (5.0 x 3.8mm), 11mm equivalent, F2.2 aperture, AF
  • Tele: N/A
  • Single-zone laser detect autofocus sensor
  • Spectral and flicker sensor
  • Colors: Obsidian, Hazel, Rose

Key specifications Google Pixel 8 Pro

  • Tensor G3 chipset, 12GB RAM, 128GB / 256GB / 512GB / 1TB storage
  • 6.7" OLED Actua display (1-120 Hz, up to 1600 nits HDR and 2400 nits peak brightness)
  • Main camera: 50MP Type 1/1.31 (9.8 x 7.4 mm) Octa PD sensor, 25mm equivalent, F1.68 aperture, OIS, EIS
  • Ultra-wide: 48MP (6.4 x 4.8mm) Quad PD sensor, 11mm equivalent, F1.95 aperture
  • Tele: 48MP (5.6 x 4.2mm) Quad PD sensor, 112mm equivalent, F2.8 aperture, OIS, EIS
  • Multi-zone laser detect autofocus sensor
  • Spectral and flicker sensor
  • Colors: Obsidian, Porcelain, Bay


The Pixel 8 Pro's Super Actua Display measures 6.7 inches. The Pixel 8 comes with a smaller 6.2-inch variant. Photo: Lars Rehm

The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro come with the heft and solid build quality you would expect from a premium smartphone. The Pixel 8 features a glass rear plate with a matte aluminum frame, while the Pro model uses a ceramic-like material with a polished frame. Both devices handle nicely in general use, and when shooting or editing images.

The more obvious difference between the two devices is size. The smaller 8 has a 6.2-inch Actua OLED display with 1080 x 2400 and a variable 60-120Hz frame rate. The Pro's larger 6.7-inch screen offers a larger 1344 x 2992 resolution and 1-120Hz variable frame rate. Display pixel density and peak brightness are slightly higher on the Pro model but in use the difference is small and both displays deliver great sharpness and detail with plenty of brightness.

Vivid colors, good contrast and excellent dynamic range make for comfortable reading of texts and pleasant viewing of videos or photos. If you prefer the dimensions of the smaller Pixel 8 or the larger 8 Pro is pretty much a matter of personal taste and the size of your pockets.

The Pixel 8 display is smaller and less bright than the 8 Pro's but still offers excellent readability and brightness. Photo: Lars Rehm

Despite size differences, on both phones, the latest version of Google's Android OS is powered by the in-house Tensor G3 chipset in combination with a Titan M2 security coprocessor. The Pixel 8 has 8GB of RAM and comes in 128 and 256GB storage versions. The Pro model has 12GB of RAM and storage options range from 128GB up to 1TB. This is more than enough resources for very snappy operation – switching between camera modules or parameter changes in the camera app is pretty much instant. Even more complex editing tasks in the Photos app are processed swiftly as well.

Pixel 8 Pro camera module with ultra-wide, main camera, tele, LED-flash and temperature sensor. Photo: Lars Rehm

Apart from device dimensions, display size and RAM, the major differences between the two Pixel phones can be found in the camera modules which, in typical Pixel fashion, are located in a protruding horizontal 'block' on the back. While this design looks quite distinctive, it also attracts fingerprints on the camera glass and could potentially be prone to scratches if the device is laid down on its camera side.

In terms of camera hardware, both models use the same main camera, with a 50MP Type 1/1.31 (9.8 x 7.4 mm) Octa PD sensor, a lens with F1.68 aperture and 25mm equivalent focal length, as well as optical and electronic image stabilization.

The Pixel 8 camera lacks the Pro model's dedicated tele lens and has an inferior ultrawide camera as well. Photo: Lars Rehm

However, while the Pixel 8's ultra-wide offers the same 11mm equivalent focal length as the Pro's, it uses a slightly smaller, lower resolution (12 vs 48MP) sensor and comes with a slower (F2.2 vs F1.95) aperture, offering less light collection capability.

When zooming in, the Pixel 8 relies on cropped and computationally enhanced images captured by the main camera. On top of this method, the 8 Pro comes with a dedicated stabilized 48MP tele camera with F2.8 aperture and an equivalent focal length of 112, giving it an advantage at medium and long-range tele settings. For the front-facing "selfie" camera, the specs between Pro and non-Pro are identical except that the Pro has autofocus instead of fixed focus.

Finally, the Pixel 8 Pro exclusively features a temperature sensor in its camera array allows you to read the temperature of objects like beverages and cookware by scanning them.


The Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro come with Google's latest Android version 14. Google Camera and Google Photos are the preinstalled default apps for image capture and viewing/editing respectively. Google is still predominantly a software company, so it's logical that both apps are packed with features. In this section, we have a closer look at the ones that we thought were most interesting to serious photographers.

Ultra HDR

Following in the wake of Apple, Google has finally adopted a true HDR workflow to take advantage of the HDR-capable screens in its phones. The good news is that it uses a variation of the JPEG format, meaning there's backwards compatibility, the bad news is that this becomes yet another HDR photo format.

That little note, next to the resolution figure, risks being the only indication that you've taken a true high dynamic range image.

The Pixels shoot JPEGs with an accompanying brightness map that tells HDR displays how to render brighter highlights that conventional displays can't show. The implementation is far from clear: there's no real indication that you've taken an 'Ultra HDR' image unless you swipe up in the Photos app and notice the 'Ultra HDR' indication next to the listed resolution.

You can see the effect if you switch from another app to the Photos app: about half a second after the app opens the highlights look more realistic and the mid-tones suddenly gain an added glow. But out first impressions are somewhat underwhelming (the Pixel's images can still look fairly heavily tone-mapped, even when you're looking at the Ultra HDR version).

We'll be looking more closely at this feature, and the current HDR photo landscape, in the coming months.

Pro Controls (Pixel 8 Pro only)

The Pixel's default camera interface is a pretty standard affair. You can tap to switch zoom factors, change photo modes or enter video mode. On the Pixel 8 Pro tapping the settings icon in the bottom right will get you access to the Pro mode settings which provide manual control over a range of basic shooting parameters, such as shutter speed, ISO and white balance, offering you similar creative possibilities as the M-mode on any serious camera, minus the aperture control (the aperture on all Pixel camera modules is fixed). Current settings are displayed at the top of the screen and parameters can be changed via a virtual slider, making for easy operation.

Google Pixel 8 Pro camera UI: Default UI, Pro manual controls, Pro image size and RAW settings

High-resolution images and Raw files

On the Pro model, the settings icon in the bottom left opens up the Pro mode image settings. Here you can switch between the standard 12MP image size and 50MP files that make use of the image sensors' full pixel count. If Raw + JPEG is activated, a DNG file is saved with each JPG.

With Raw mode activated, it takes the camera a second or so to get ready for the next shot, so it's not ideal for capturing images in quick succession. We also found it difficult to improve on the default JPG processing in Raw conversion. The potential for highlight recovery is quite limited and it's difficult to improve detail and textures without introducing artifacts and noise. Still, it's a great option to have on a smartphone.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, 50MP out-of-camera

Google Pixel 8 Pro, 50MP Raw conversion (Adobe Camera Raw)

Outdoor scene Outdoor scene
Indoor scene Indoor scene

Night Sight

Night Sight is Google's version of a night mode that captures several frames and combines the image information into one frame for better exposure, dynamic range and detail. It can be configured to kick in automatically below a certain light level or can be triggered manually. Image results are quite stunning, with nightscapes showing brighter exposure, and better dynamic range than standard shots. Color is vivid and textures are rendered nicely, making for excellent night shots – as long as there is not too much movement in the frame.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, standard mode

Google Pixel 8 Pro, Night Sight

Moving subjects in the frame can be blurred or cause artifacts, but motion blur is often noticeable on standard mode night shots. So overall, it's sensible to keep Night Sight active by default, especially as a standard version of the image is saved along with the Night Sight capture.

Magic Eraser and Best Take

Magic Eraser and Best Take are AI-powered editing functions available in the Google Photos app. Magic Eraser can remove unwanted objects in the composition. Best Take can replace faces in portraits and group shots with better versions from other images. When viewing an image in Photos, the app sometimes suggests objects to remove or faces to swap, but both functions can also be triggered manually.

As with many things AI, Magic Eraser and Best Take often work reasonably well, but also leave quite a bit of room for improvement. In most instances, the edited image will show quite noticeable artifacts. Both functions are useful for a quick fix and work nicely as a party trick, but if you need some quality editing it's still best to fire up Photoshop on your desktop computer - at least for now.

In this sample Magic Eraser successfully removed the blurry person from the frame but forgot to remove most of the shadow, making for an eerie effect.

Magic Eraser - original image Magic Eraser - edited image

In this scene, Magic Eraser suggested removing all people in the background and did a reasonable job at it. On closer inspection editing artifacts remain visible, though.

Magic Eraser - original image Magic Eraser - edited image

In this scene, Best Take suggested swapping the subject's face. It did indeed find an image with a better facial expression in another image but the digital transplantation left very noticeable artifacts behind on her shoulder.

Best Take - original image Best Take - edited image

Still cameras


Both Pixel phones use the same 50MP main camera with a (in smartphone terms) large Type 1/1.31 (9.8 x 7.4 mm) image sensor. There are no discernible differences in terms of image quality between the two devices when using the main camera.

Google Pixel 8, main camera

Photo: Lars Rehm

In combination with Google's excellent image processing pipeline, the main camera hardware is capable of producing image output that is among the very best we have seen from smartphones, with good exposure across all types of scenes and light conditions, as well as excellent detail across the frame. Unwanted artifacts, such as chromatic aberrations or oversharpening are not an issue and while some shadow noise is noticeable in daylight shots, overall the Pixel 8 / 8 Pro main camera output is very clean.

"The Pixel 8's main camera hardware is capable of producing image output that is among the very best we have seen from smartphones."

Google Pixel 8 Pro main camera.

Photo: Lars Rehm

Dynamic range is pretty wide, with both highlight and shadow detail well protected in daylight shots. We only observed some more serious highlight clipping in night shots. On the plus side, this can be mitigated by activating Night Sight mode. Colors were vivid but natural, with nice-looking skin tones across all light conditions.


The Pixel 8 phones use different ultra-wide camera modules. Both offer a very wide 11mm equivalent focal length and autofocus, but the Pro model uses a higher resolution sensor and faster aperture than the 8 (48MP / F1.95 vs 12MP / F2.2). Despite the hardware differences, in good light you'll have to zoom in closely to spot the difference in image quality. Both cameras offer good exposure, nice colors and a fairly wide dynamic range. Artifacts, such as chromatic aberrations are well under control.

In night shots in standard mode, you're most likely to notice a difference between the Pixel ultra-wide cameras. In these more challenging conditions, the Pro model's larger sensor can maintain better detail and lower noise levels. Especially the colored chroma noise can be a little intrusive on the Pixel 8. Overall, the Pixel 8 Pro ultra-wide delivers some of the best low-light results we have seen on a smartphone. The vanilla 8 drops somewhat off but captures images that are still more than usable at smaller viewing sizes.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, ultra-wide Google Pixel 8, ultra-wide

The differences in terms of noise and detail are still hardly discernible in this indoor scene but depth-of-field is noticeably narrower on the 8 Pro. Noise reduction has a slightly negative impact on detail in both images but overall image quality is still excellent for smartphone ultra-wide cameras, making both Pixel phones very good options for smartphone photographers with a knack for wide-angle photography.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, ultra-wide Google Pixel 8, ultra-wide

When examined at a pixel level, the Pro model also captures slightly better detail and manages lower levels of noise and less "mushy" textures than the 8 in the shadow areas of the frame. Corner sharpness is also a touch better on the Pro. This said, you would be hard-pressed to spot a difference at typical web or social media image sizes.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, ultra-wide Google Pixel 8, ultra-wide


Both the Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel 8 are capable of decent "zoomed-in" images. However, without a dedicated telephoto camera module, the regular Pixel 8 is naturally more limited in this respect as it purely relies on digital cropping and enhancing – you have to upgrade to the Pro to get a separate 5x telephoto camera.

At a 2x tele factor (49mm equiv.) both cameras use the main camera's high-resolution sensor for digital zooming and produce very good image quality that is difficult to distinguish from 1x captures.

From a 3x tele zoom factor (75mm equiv.) onwards, the 8 Pro appears to be using image fusion methods to combine image information from its main and tele camera modules, capturing images with better detail and lower noise levels than the standard Pixel 8. This gap increases with longer tele settings but even at an approximate 5x zoom factor (112mm equiv.) you have to view the images at a fairly large size to see the difference as both devices produce good exposure and natural colors. Images captured under indoor lighting and even dimmer conditions are still usable on social media.

Google Pixel 8
2x 5x 8x
Google Pixel 8 Pro
2x 5x 8x 10x 30x

The Pixel 8 offers a maximum tele zoom factor of 8x and at this setting the difference to the Pro model, which still offers very good image rendering and texture at a 10x factor (250mm equiv.) , is much more noticeable. Even the Pro's 30x (750mm equiv.) shots are still usable at small viewing sizes.

"Even the Pixel 8 Pro's 30x (750mm equiv.) shots are still usable at small viewing sizes."

Overall, both phones offer very good telephoto zoom performance when considering the hardware differences, but if telephoto zoom is high up your list of priorities, the 8 Pro is clearly the better choice. It's one of the best smartphones in this respect, not only with good results at fairly high zoom factors but also pretty consistent results across the entire zoom range.

Front facing camera

We also had a quick look at the new Pixel front cameras which share the same sensor (10.5MP Dual PD at 4.6 x 3.4mm) and F2.2 aperture. There is one crucial difference though: The Pixel 8 Pro front camera comes with an autofocus system, the Pixel 8 does not.

In practice this means that the Pro model is more capable of adapting to different shooting distances. In this sample the 8 Pro resolves noticeably better detail at close distance, as the Pixel 8's fixed focus lens has been optimized for a longer shooting distance. This can be seen on the background which is sharper in the Pixel 8 image.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, front camera Google Pixel 8, front camera

This sample has been shot at an arm's length. At this shooting distance the two cameras capture pretty much the same level of detail which, in the focus plane, is very good. Both cameras also do an excellent job in terms of face and background exposure, as well as color and skin tone rendering.

Google Pixel 8 Pro, front camera Google Pixel 8, front camera


The Pixel 8 generation can record video footage up to 4K resolution and 60 frames per second. By default HDR10 recording kicks in when required, limiting the frame rate to 30fps.

Overall, video quality is great, making both Pixel phones excellent options for video-centric smartphone users. Exposure is good, even in low light, colors are vivid but natural and the 4K clips show excellent levels of detail.

The 60fps frame rate makes for very smooth motion and panning shots in most scenes, but on some occasions, we experienced a slight stutter effect, likely caused by the image stabilization misinterpreting the panning motion as camera shake. Besides that, video stabilization is among the best we have seen, producing tripod-like shots when the camera is still, keeping it smooth when in motion. Audio quality is also quite impressive, with clear sound and very little distortion, even when recording loud events.

Please note that a compatible HDR display is required to see the full potential of HDR10 clips. If watched on a standard definition display, YouTube will play a compressed SDR video instead.


Google Pixel 8

Photo: Lars Rehm

Even after using the new Google Pixel 8 phones for only a few days, it's clear that they have a lot to offer not only to phone users in general, but specifically to mobile photographers. They are well-built devices with nice displays, and have more than enough processing power for even the most demanding tasks; Google's "pure" Android OS is a pleasure to use when compared to the bloatware-loaded versions of most other brands that build their devices around the Android OS.

Even the regular Pixel 8 has a terrific main camera, shared with the Pixel 8 Pro.

Photo: Lars Rehm

General operation is snappy, with apps launching instantly and all UI elements in the right places. This is also true for the camera app which is very simple to use when sticking to the default settings and makes it easy to find manual parameters or special functions for those who prefer a custom camera experience.

The Pixel phones especially shine in terms of image quality. The Pixel camera hardware specifications are by no means bad but other flagship phones come with bigger sensors, faster apertures and longer tele lenses. Google's outstanding image processing and camera tuning make the difference, though. Both still images and videos are among the best we have seen, with natural colors, good exposure down to low light, great detail and a wide dynamic range for great results even in high-contrast scenes.

"The Pixel 8 Pro is certainly up there with the very best, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Huawei P60 Pro."

In addition, Night Sight is capable of stunning results in very low light and excellent video stabilization. There is not much between the current top-end camera phones but the Pixel 8 Pro is certainly up there with the very best, including the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Huawei P60 Pro. The Pixel 8 Pro competes at a slightly lower price point but arguably offers the best camera experience in its class.

Google Pixel 8 Pro

Photo: Lars Rehm

While some users might prefer the smaller dimensions and lower weight of the Pixel 8, the Pixel 8 Pro offers better telephoto zoom performance, making it the ideal option for those users who want the best possible quality when zooming in, and we think this is worth the Pro model's higher price. The high-resolution mode and high-res DNG capture, which are also exclusive to the Pro model, will likely only appeal to a niche audience but are definitely nice-to-haves.

What we like What we don't like
  • Excellent build quality
  • 'Pure' Android experience
  • Bright and sharp displays
  • Very snappy operation
  • Excellent all-around image quality on ultra-wide and main cam
  • Consistently good tele images from 2x to 10x [8 Pro]
  • Good level of manual control [8Pro]
  • Detailed 4K video with smooth motion and very good stabilization
  • Compact dimensions [Pixel 8]
  • Protruding camera module
  • Occasional stutter effect when panning in video
  • Magic Eraser and Best Take often leave artifacts behind
  • Some software features (high res and Pro Controls) are only available on the Pixel 8 Pro
  • 'Ultra HDR' mode rather underwhelming (and with limited off-camera support at present)

Pixel 8 score: 4.5 stars

Pixel 8 Pro score: 4.5 stars

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Sample galleries

Google Pixel 8 sample gallery

Google Pixel 8 Pro sample gallery