Google Pixel 3, with Vista black and white filter. Processed in Google Photos

Review of Google Pixel 3 Camera for Photography

Google Pixel 3 camera (and all the computational photography involved) is phenomenal.

1. Buttery smooth camera

Google Pixel 3, with Vista black and white filter. Processed in Google Photos

Good news:

The Google 3 Pixel is a phenomenal camera.

If you want a camera which takes really great pictures, regardless of the lighting situation, the Google Pixel 3 is a home run.

Camera is buttery smooth. No perceivable lag. I really like the sound of the shutter, and it just works very well.

Most photos out of camera don’t require post processing or filters. Applying filters makes the photos look better.

2. Google Photos works very well with Pixel 3

I really like the Vista monochrome filter in Google Photos

Something that nobody really talks about:

Google Photos is pretty awesome.

It works very well with the Pixel 3. I really enjoy using it to post process and edit my photos. Furthermore, now that I can “favorite” my photos, it is easy to keep everything synced.

When I favorite a picture with the star:

Favorites folder in Google Photos:

3. Fine-tuned post processing

Post processing for Google Photos

To post process the above photo, these are some settings I used.

This is the original photo:

4. Flash

Flash inside toaster

The flash works quite well. This is a picture inside a toaster, then processed with the Vista filter.

Processing pictures with Google Photos app

Tip: shoot photos on your phone with flash, then process the photos in monochrome after to make nicer photos.

5. Exposure compensation

Minus exposure compensation on Google Pixel 3

Using minus exposure compensation on Pixel 3 works very well. It is very delicate and captures light beautifully.

However the UI is bad: when you tap the image to change the exposure, the exposure dial is all the way to the right side! Too far to operate single-handedly!

Bad UI: why is the exposure compensation dial so far to the right?

Even worse, when you shoot horizontal (landscape) pictures, the exposure compensation is all the way at the top, and scrolls the opposite direction for compensation???

Why is the dial all the way on top? My suggestion: put it on the right.

Regardless, the camera light sensing powers are strong for dynamic range:

Minus exposure compensation on Google Pixel 3

6. Strong dynamic range

With the built-in Google HDR+ mode, the dynamic range in this thing is phenomenal.

Even in the most difficult lighting situations, it captured everything well in the scene!

7. Focus tracking

By default, when you tap on something to focus on it, the focus sticks to it. This works very well.

8. Unlimited storage

It is cool if you have the Pixel 3, you have unlimited full resolution storage with Google photos. Big plus.

9. Colors

Colors look fantastic. Not too saturated. No blown highlights. Processes well with VSCO A6 preset.

Processed with VSCO with a6 preset

A6 preset best for color:

Love the A6 filter in VSCO

10. Suggestions

This is my only gripe with the Google Pixel 3 camera:

It is a really phenomenal camera, yet the user interface is very confusing, unintuitive, and you cannot customize it.

For example, some of the icons don’t really make intuitive sense.

Suggestion 1: Change the magnifying button zoom icon with an exposure compensation dial

Exposure compensation more useful for photographers than zoom. All users know the gesture of pinching to zoom now:

Magnifying glass for zooming doesn’t really make sense here

2. Make the night sight mode more prominent

Night sight (ability to shoot in near pitch dark situations) is very good. Make this more prominent on the bottom menu.

Night sight function is fantastic. Replace the panoramic mode with night sight (nobody uses panoramic mode anymore)

3. Have ability to apply filters while you’re shooting photos

Google Photos has awesome filters. What if we could apply filters while we are shooting, like iPhone, or Samsung phones?

Nobody uses the self timer mode on their phone. Switch this with a “filter” button

4. Ability to change the functions on top of the camera

These dials on top of the camera should be able to be changed.

Nobody uses temperature on their phone. Just remove this and replace with something more useful. Or have the ability to customize this?


  1. Phenomenal camera. If you want the best Android smartphone camera, the Google Pixel 3 is the best.
  2. I haven’t shot with the iPhone Xs yet; I’ll do a comparison later. But my gut says that Pixel 3 (with HDR+ and the computational photography technology makes for better image quality, yet the simpler UI and ecosystem of iPhone and ios is probably superior, and makes the iPhone a better “everyday” phone and camera).
  3. Google needs to change the UI for their Pixel camera; make it more intuitive, ability to customize.
  4. Use Google Photos “Vista” filter for monochrome, and process the photos in the app too!
  5. Shoot more with flash, it works well for photos. Same goes with shooting more photos with exposure compensation.

To sum up, the smartphone camera is extremely strong and powerful. The more I think about it, the phone is the ultimate camera.

Democratization of photography

This is good for photography; more innovation will happen with smartphones and photography. Lots of new innovations in the computational photography space.

Moving forward, your strength and skill as a photographer is less and less dependent on your gear, more dependent on your artistic vision and ability to compose beautiful photos.