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Google kills Astrophotography mode for wide-angle camera on Pixel smartphones


So, after years of complaints and feverish requests from Pixel owners, Google finally added an ultra-wide camera to its phones – starting with the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. Both the phones have since received a warm reception for their camera prowess. However, it appears that one feature that wasn’t so stellar was astrophotography mode when used with the ultra-wide camera, which is apparently why Google has decided to disable it.

Quality issues appears to be the culprit here

Yes, if you own a Pixel 5 or a Pixel 4a 5G, you can no longer click long-exposure shots of the night sky with the astrophotography mode using the ultra-wide angle camera. “On Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, astrophotography only works on zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x,Google mentions on an official support page.

As per a 9to5Google report, the change was made back in November with the rollout of Google Camera v8.1 update. Earlier, it was possible to switch to a 0.6x zoom level for astrophotography mode, which handed over the imaging responsibility from the main sensor to the ultrawide camera. Now, users see a warning at the top which says “Zoom to 1x for astrophotography” at the top and the option to switch to the wide-angle lens has been removing entirely.

READ MORE: Google’s 5G Pixels get new Adaptive features, older Pixels also receive a ton of cool tricks

Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G owners are now left with two options only – click an astrophotography mode shot of the night sky using the main camera without any magnification, or get a slightly magnified shot with a 2x zoom output that is digitally cropped. The reason for killing the astrophotography mode for the wide-angle camera on Pixel smartphones appears to have been linked to poor quality.


As per a user complaint on the official forums, the astrophotography mode results achieved by the wide-angle camera are far worse compared to those captured by the main snapper. Have a look at this thread to see for yourself. However, it is unclear if Google will fix the quality issues and bring back the capability on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4a 5G anytime soon.

Source: Google Support Forum

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