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Home / Technology / Google sneakily removed astrophotography support from Pixel 5 and 4a 5G ultra-wide cameras

Google sneakily removed astrophotography support from Pixel 5 and 4a 5G ultra-wide cameras

Illustration for the article titled Google Sneakily Removed Support for Astrophotography Mode from Ultra-Wide Cams on Pixel 5 and 4a 5G

Photo: Sam Rutherford

Usually, the holidays are a time to give, but after a camera update earlier this fall, users recently discovered that Google has removed the ability to use Astrophotography mode with the ultra-wide cameras on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G.

When Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G was first released, Google’s Astrophotography Mode (which was introduced last year along with Pixel 4) was available for use on both the phone’s primary and ultra-wide cameras. Unfortunately, it seems that after squeezing out version 8.1 of Google Camera app which added a handful of features to older Pixel phones, the newer Pixel 5 and 4a 5G also lost the ability to use Astrophotography mode with their ultra wide angle lenses.

While Google has not provided an official explanation for this change, Google has since updated it support page to note that “On Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, astrophotography only works at zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x.”

It is currently unclear what caused Google to disable Astrophotography mode from working with ultra-wide cameras. If you look at some examples from the Pixel support community, a possible explanation can be some poor results.

IN a thread on the Pixel support page, a number of users published side-by-side comparisons taken before the update showing Astrophotography images taken by an ultra-wide Pixel lens that look noticeably grainy or have lower quality (often with a strong green tint) than images taken by the phone’s primary camera.

Because it was possible to take Astrophotography photos with a Pixel’s ultra-wide lens before the update, after reports of less than amazing results, Google may have decided to temporarily disable the feature while investigating the issue and potentially working on a solution. Gizmodo has contacted Google for more information and we will provide an update if we hear back.

Given the time it took before this change was noticed, the loss of support for Astrophotography mode on Pixel 5 and 4a 5G’s ultra-wide cameras is probably not a big deal for most people, but it’s a somewhat disappointing change anyway, so here’s hope Google may squeeze out a solution sometime soon.

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