The Google Pixel 8 Pro Camera Review for Photographers

Discover firsthand insights and real-life field tests with Google's latest flagship mobile smartphone for the photographer in mind.

The Google Pixel 8 Pro Camera Review for Photographers | Image by Sarah Kohler
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I've spent quite a few years, six to be exact, capturing life's fleeting and monumental moments with my Google Pixel. My journey in mobile photography with this device has been nothing short of incredible. I've had the pleasure of owning and working with every Pixel device ever created. I am a huge fan of this device and have collaborated with Google on various campaigns to showcase multiple features in exciting settings worldwide. With that said, let's dive into what I love about the new Google Pixel 8 Pro.

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Moment

Moment Case for Pixel 8 / 8 Pro - Compatible with MagSafe

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The Google Pixel 8 Pro 50MP Sensor

The new Google Pixel 8 Pro introduces a pro mode capable of shooting 50MP with the main camera, 25mm lens at f/1.7, 48MP f/2.0 on the ultra-wide, and 113 mm telephoto at f/2.8 in both RAW + JPEG. You can now control ISO, shutter speed, and manual focus in the camera settings.

When you can slow down and shoot some portraits or even take in a beautiful scene to capture some landscape shots — the 50MP pro mode is what you should be shooting in. It's an excellent option for those mainly creating on their phones, especially with the new advanced camera settings. You can now control ISO, shutter speed, and manual focusing. You'll be able to tap into even more quality, resulting in images that are 6144 x 8160 in size — giving you flexibility in the editing process and helping you continue to push the boundaries of a powerful camera that lives in your pocket.

The process is a little slower when capturing 50MP, so I wouldn't use it if you were trying to shoot quickly — especially if you're doing street photography or catching anything with a lot of movement. These photos show motion blur will be introduced if your subject isn't entirely still. For those situations, I'd keep it at 12MP.

50MP

50MP

12MP

Portraits and Real Tone

Real Tone technology is my favorite and most important feature of the Google Pixel devices. Google collaborated with over 60 photographers from diverse backgrounds to train the Pixel camera in accurately capturing various skin tones. This initiative is part of Google's ongoing efforts to combat skin tone bias in AI and camera technology, and its performance has consistently improved since its initial implementation on the Pixel 6. You can read more about how Real Tone makes photography more inclusive here.

Portrait Mode sometimes struggles with fringing. You're better off sticking to the primary lens or the telephoto. You can achieve some separation if you get close to your subject.

Here are some JPEGs straight from the Google Pixel 8 Pro:

What's Missing From the Pixel 8 Pro?

The first thing I immediately noticed with the camera is that the temperature and exposure slider are no longer on-screen. I missed it and enjoyed having it on previous Pixel models. I like having those controls accessible and not buried in the settings. This is a huge drawback for me with the shooting experience and being able to adjust as you go quickly.

How I Edit My Google Pixel 8 Photos

If I'm doing something quick to post to share on my socials, VSCO is it. I've been a long-time user since their early days. They were among the first to understand and digitize my favorite film stocks for digital photography. To this day, I still enjoy their interpretations of film stocks as they continue to grow.

They recently launched a desktop app worth checking out if you're beginning your editing journey and not quite ready to dive into Adobe Lightroom yet. Explore the colors you enjoy and why they are essential, then develop your process around them. Trying to build from a RAW file can be intimidating if you're unsure where you'd like to end up.

I'll sometimes import my Google Pixel RAW files into Adobe Lightroom if I want more control, and I happen to take a photo I'd like to take even further. However, it's not the priority of my experience and relationship with mobile photography. Even when it's a commissioned shoot by Google, all the photos come straight from the phone, and I don't edit them.

I have other cameras that I shoot with for personal and professional use, so I keep my mobile photography entirely separate from that process. My phone allows me to have a little more fun / be more loose with it. I'm focused on capturing in-between moments of my daily life. We also live in a world where everyone is so accustomed to smartphones with cameras that people are often more at ease than when you put a camera in their face. It feels less "serious," so you can get candid moments.

Conclusion

With Real Tone for accuracy and the quality you can get out of this phone, you'll be happy shooting 12MP JPEGs most of the time. Overall, Google has once again created an incredible device. If you're looking for a capable and inclusive camera system on you at all times, look no further than the Pixel 8 Pro.

I'm excited to share more about this device as I spend more time with it. Next on my list is to get a case and adapt some of my favorite Moment mobile lenses, such as the fish eye and the telephoto, to explore the capabilities of this device further and see what I can create with it. I can't wait to show you all what that could look like.

Moment 58mm Tele Lens T Series Thumbnail

Moment

58mm Tele Mobile Lens | T-Series

Get 2X (or 4x with the Moment Pro Camera app) closer to your subject. Incredible for portraits, landscapes, and smooth video, the Tele 58mm is the best telep...

Buy for $150.00
Moment 14mm Fisheye Lens T Series Thumbnail

Moment

14mm Fisheye Mobile Lens | T-Series

The 14mm Fisheye T-Series Lens is the widest super wide lens we’ve ever made. It features a massive 200 degree field of view, producing a 30% wider image tha...

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