Smartphone camera capabilities are getting better and better. The Google Pixel 3 is a clear sign of where the industry is going.
My first camera phone was a 2MP Nokia. Never in a million years (actually, 14 years) did I think we would be where we’re at now. But the modern smartphone market brings with it a range of devices that have impeccable cameras built into them. The demand for the best camera and the rise in quality even has Canon and Fujifilm debating about the future of the digital camera world. No matter how you feel about it the quality is evolving, there’s no clearer sign of that than the Google Pixel 3. From insane low light performance to smooth, soft portraits, it’s hard to say why you shouldn’t be taking images with this camera. Could this be in fact a replacement for every photographer’s main camera? Let’s take a look…
A Great Camera That Fits in Your Pocket
Many people are not ready to admit that the camera’s we’re all used to could be under threat. I was definitely in this camp, firmly believing I would never replace my camera for one that sits in a cell phone. Even writing that, makes me feel this is still true. But…and it’s a big but, seeing where the phone camera is going, I kind of have one foot out of that camp.
Let me be clear, I love my camera. The ergonomics of the Fujifilm X-T2 make me go weak at the knees every time I use it. And the images, oh wow the images, well, I’m totally in love with them. But there is a key reason I sold my Nikon D600 and four lenses…I wanted something smaller. Something more compact and easy to travel around with. You know what’s even smaller than the Fuji X-T2? The Google Pixel 3.
Google Pixel 3 For Low Light
When I think of using a smartphone at night, I kind of shudder. Blurry images, ruined by the slight shake of the hand. Photographs filled with grain and lacking in detail, night time smartphone photography is just a no-no for me. The Google Pixel 3 says hello. The way this camera captures scenes in low light is truly impressive. Using technology they call Night Sight, they’ve been able to make their camera produce really good quality low light images.
The image above is rich in detail and is nice and smooth, considering the condition in which it was taken. I would have no issues using the Pixel 3 in low light. In fact, I would use it confidently.
Google Pixel 3 For Street Photography
For me, I’m always looking at if a camera can perform for street photography. The truth is, street photography differs from other genres, in the sense, it does not really matter what camera you use. If you can capture a good candid scene, how clean and pretty it looks is irrelevant. But it must be able to capture the scene, and I feel this is where smartphones fall behind. DSLR and mirrorless cameras, in the most part, are instantly responsive. Hit the shutter button and the image is captured. With most budget smartphones, they’re always playing catch up. By the time the software realises what you want to do, the scene has gone. Now, I can’t say the Google Pixel 3 is the only camera to be able to hang in the street photography world. That just isn’t true. Other leading manufacturers are being used by some exceptional street photographers that are creating compelling work.
But the Google Pixel 3 certainly goes toe to toe with the rest of them. I like the way it reproduces colours and how it handles artificial light conditions. Also, check out the below image that uses the panning technique. This really impressed me and I would not have guessed it was done with the use of a smartphone…
After hearing about all the hype surrounding the camera on the Google Pixel 3, of course, I went to go and see what all the fuss was about. Below are some images that left me feeling really impressed with the camera.
Let’s go in a little closer and just appreciate the sharpness and detail for a moment. That’s insane.
Can This be a Main Camera?
If someone was to message me, as they often do, and say “I just want a camera that I can take some quality snaps on when I’m out and about, what do you recommend?”, I’d absolutely suggest the Pixel 3. For the hobbyist photographer, what more could you actually want or need? However, if you’re more serious about photography and taking bookings, the quality isn’t there just yet. It can’t compete with mid-range to premium DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. But if this is where we’re at in 2019, I’m super excited about where we will be in five to ten years time.
A high-performance camera that can fit in your pocket? Yes, please!
All images used with direct and Creative Commons permission. For clarity, this is not a review of the Google Pixel 3 camera. I have not used the device myself, however, from viewing other photographs, it has really made me consider investing in one.