When Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G were launched, they supported astrophotography with the ultra-wide lens. However, after a Google Camera update, this feature is no longer supported.
According to 9to5Google, The Google Camera 8.1 update that rolled out in mid-November, removed the ability to use the ultra-wide lens for astrophotography. Before, when switching to the astrophotography feature, users could switch between .6x, 1x and 2x. Since the update, the 6x option is no longer available, and a Google support document states that astrophotography only works on zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x.
It is unclear why the option was removed, but it is disappointing for whatever reason. The feature may no longer be available because the quality does not meet Google’s standards, but that’s just speculation; Google could easily clean things up by providing an explanation.
Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G owners can still use the Night Wight ultra-wide lens, but not to capture the stars. It makes a lot of sense to use an ultra-wide lens for astrophotography because it allows users to capture more of the scene. But users have to settle for the normal lens, which still offers a relatively wide field of view.
As 9to5Google notes, you can uninstall updates to Google Camera and return to version 7.6, which allows owners of Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G to use the ultra-wide lens for astrophotography. This is the version that was actually launched with Pixel 5.
Pixel 5 forum || Pixel 4a 5G Forum
With winter storms rolling out across the United States, it may not be the greatest time for astrophotography. But it’s a little frustrating to see features removed from Google’s flagship for no apparent reason. Users of Reddit have definitely noticed it.
Maybe Google Camera will be updated in the near future and bring the feature back. Currently, astrophotographers can use zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x.