I SHARE MY THOUGHTS ON THE GOOGLE PIXEL 2
AFTER SHOOTING WITH IT FOR 1 YEAR
I’m a full-time photographer and I demand a lot out of my photographic equipment. I currently shoot on a Nikon D850 and have used almost every DSLR and lens Nikon have released in the past 10 years. So when it came time to upgrade my smartphone, I had high expectations.
A bit of backstory on why I upgraded, I had an iPhone 5C for about three years and it had started to slow down. To the point where I couldn’t make calls because of the latency. After having a few actual night terrors of being in emergency situations and not being able to make a call to the emergency services, I decided enough was enough and I needed a phone that ACTUALLY WORKED.
Luckily, the Google Pixel 2 had just launched, and after a bit of review reading and poking around on YouTube, I decided this was the phone for me.
I picked up my Google Pixel 2 shortly after its release last year when I saw it outperformed every other camera phone at the time on DxOMark and Markus Brownlee (MKBHD) gave the phone a favourable review. I was sceptical at first, as I don’t like to get swept up in the hype-train, but as soon as I got it, I knew why they spoke so highly of this phone.
It opens quickly
I was blown away with how quick it is to activate this camera. I always use the lock button to open the camera (double tap it) and the camera pops up instantly, every time. It’s insane. It feels so reliable, not something I’ve come to expect from smartphone cameras, at all.
It’s extremely sharp
As a full-time photographer, optical clarity is important to me, and my mouth was literally agape when I used the Pixel 2’s camera for the first time. I’d never seen any smartphone render images this pristinely. There’s no chromatic abberations (colour fringing) nor oversharpening artefacts (depicted by halos around edges) it’s just a damn sharp camera and great image sensor.
Gestures make it easy to use
A simple double-tap of the lock button on the phone makes opening the camera fast. I like the fact it’s a physical button, too. Touchscreens can take a while to feed back, or sometimes don’t work at all when wet, so to me they’re inherently unreliable. Give me a button any day. I even take the pictures with the volume up/down buttons if I have gloves on, it’s wet or I want to make sure the Pixel 2 is definitely taking a picture (a scene that’s about to change within a second). The twist gesture makes it simple to switch between the rear and front-facing camera. I’d never used gestures in smartphone photography before, but I wouldn’t live without it now.
One year on… DO I still like it?
All my first impressions have stood the test of time, and everything stills works as it should. Nothing has slowed down, bloated or stuttered. I have had occasion when the camera doesn’t come up as quickly as I’d like, but I put that down to Android OS updates (or failure on my part to install them!). I still love how crisp the images are, and the colours always render nicely.
I’m particularly impressed by the low-light capabilities of this phone. The high ISO noise handling is great. Take a look at this shot I took in Wookey hole caves, it was really dark in there and still the noise is nothing to write home about. I was shooting the northern lights over the Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland earlier this year and was amazed that a quick snap could still capture great detail with accurate colours and optical clarity.
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the Pixel 2 as a smartphone for photographers:
12.2 megapixel files mean lots of detail is captured without taking up masses of storage space
Optically, it’s very sharp, I’m still blown away when I zoom into a picture
Extremely quick to open (double tap the lock button)
Great dynamic range, especially with HDR
Autofocus works well in low-light
High ISO isn’t too noisy
Video stabilisation is brilliant
Gestures to switch front and rear-facing cameras makes it quick to use
No timelapse setting as standard (third-party app required)
Autofocus occasionally hunts no matter the light conditions (1/15 times)
Like all smartphones, you’re stuck with a wide-angle lens as standard
Would I recommend the Google Pixel 2 to professional photographers?
Smartphones aren’t going to replace DSLRs just yet, but it’s an exceptional smartphone camera.
Would I recommend the Google Pixel 2 to amateur photographers?
If you’re deciding whether to get a compact camera or simply upgrade your mobile phone, get the Google Pixel 2 - it’s so much more convenient.
Would I recommend the Google Pixel 2 as a smartphone in its own right?
It depends if you’re a fan of Android OS or not. I moved away from iOS which I’d been with for years, and I’m happy. But Android does lack a few key apps that I wish I still had (Hyperlapse, a few of the star tracking apps etc). It doesn’t make me want to swap back though.
Google Pixel 2 vs Nikon D850
I wanted to see how it really compared, side-by-side to my Nikon D850, so I took a snap on both during a food photoshoot I was doing for Christmas. The results? Well, it’s easy to see how a longer focal length lens does wonders for perspective compression and enhances a shallow depth of field. I’d like to repeat this with a Moment lens for the Pixel 2 (currently only available for iPhones). But to be honest, the tones and clarity are both great. There’s nothing wrong with the Pixel 2 shot, it’s just let down by the wide-angle lens.
“Should I buy this over the Pixel 3?”
Yes - if you want to save a bit of money. The Pixel 3 has the same camera but a revamped image sensor, it has a few cool software updates, but nothing that important. Wait for the 4…