Photography is a combination of subjective taste and technical prowess, and for me, at least, the Pixel 2 seems to be hitting both those marks. I was a photographer before I started this tech writing shindig and there are a few things in particular I notice about how the Pixel 2 renders images.
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By far the best part of the original’s Pixel camera was its ability to tackle high contrast scenes. A year later, I’ve not seen a camera that can handle HDR as effectively as the Pixel does, which is why I’ve suggested installing the Pixel’s camera APK on your own phone. The Pixel 2 looks to continue that tradition, aptly handling a few heavily backlit scenes and maintaining ample shadow detail.
Granted, the original Pixel might have performed similarly, but to my eye, the colors seem a bit more realistic, and the HDR a little less exaggerated. It’s getting to the point I’m not sure my mirrorless camera would be able to handle some of these scenes with the same finesse.
Then there’s the portrait mode, which I’m still impressed can happen with just one lens. That said, as with pretty much every other phone with such a feature, it’s susceptible today weird artifacts around complicated edges. It’s not bad on these cherry-picked images, but we’ll have to see how it holds up in regular use.
But a couple of things stand out to me compared to some dual-lens systems. First, there’s a smooth transition from the in-focus area to the blurred regions. Second, the quality of the bokeh itself looks realistic. Too many phones look like they’ve simply applied a basic lens blur in photoshop, but these images (and the ones I took during my hands-on) give me hope the Pixel 2 is going a step further.
We’ll be putting the camera to the test for our full review, but if these images are anything to go by, things are looking good indeed. You can check out the full gallery here.