The early #Nexus 5X and 6P camera samples popping up are really not that good

Most of them are overexposed with large parts of the photo burned out, automatic white balance doesn't seem too consistent with some pics too blue and others too yellow.
At least they're in focus.
Low-light seem to be a winner however.

Most reviewers don't say if the pics were taking with or without HDR+. Maybe only HDR+ is alright and standard mode just poor.

Google has a lot of work to fix this camera.
I mean, getting the exposure right is the very first thing. You'll see this illustrated in comparison with Galaxy S6 or iPhone.

(early opinion based on the very first samples published)
#supercurioBlog #camera

Source post on Google+

Published by

François Simond

Mobile engineer & analyst specialized in, display, camera color calibration, audio tuning

70 thoughts on “The early #Nexus 5X and 6P camera samples popping up are really not that good”

  1. What I hate the most about Nexus phone's photograph department is the lack of choice around the Google Camera. I only wish it had an easy/simple mode (current) and a custom/pro mode with a bit of control for the user.

    I know there are apps I can download, but the stock experience with the likes of the S6 and the G4, without downloading nothing, is so much better.

  2. +Rohan Blake ugh… even read the second paragraph?

    Stock cameras are much more consistent with the experience than independent developers.

    Also, they can do per device optimizations just because they know how they work internally. I think this is the reason why many times those apps give a worse point and shoot experience than stock apps, but I think it would be nice (and developer-time worthy) to have some kind of options and improvements baked into the stock camera for Nexus devices.

  3. +Rohan Blake we don't care if you don't care 🙂 saying they're good for the price is actually wrong for us. The G4 is about 400€ now and with a much better camera. Also, Google advertised his new camera, and this made us expect a real good camera. Not an average one

  4. If it ain't Mr Google himself +Rohan Blake​​. Say anything negative about Google/android and the beloved nexuses and he's right at the forefront confronting the person lmao. the nexus 5x and 6p camera is good, but not iphone or galaxy good.

  5. +François Simond​ like you said taking pics without HDR+ has always been bad for me. Every single picture I take is with HDR+. Be it with my Nexus 5 or my Nexus 6.

    I took about 200 pictures on my recent vacation to London and they were all taken with HDR+ set to on.

    Google really needs to work on its algorithms. It's not the hardware. It has never been about the hardware being bad.

  6. +Rohan Blake man, I really respect you. And I am all the way with you when it comes to supporting nexus and all, but don´t become obsessed by this to the point where it get´s ridiculess.
    The special thing about the new Nexii is the mix of above midrange hardware and pure Android which makes for a great experience. Still there are better Cams out there. The G4 and the S6 are currently cheaper than the N6p in Europe and it´s not the countries to blame for googles pricing.
    Diehard Nexus Fans will buy anyways, but since LG and Samsung stepped up in terms of security an updates, we do have options.

  7. +François Simond I believe HDR is always on by default.

    I'm disappointed by the lack of raw support in Camera 3 but other apps will compensate I hope. Mostly however to my untrained eye the pics look pretty good (esp coming from the N5 world).

  8. I just looked at it and the mids were lower than the darks and everything was pile up on the brights, with much blown out. (Just judging by the jpg link which you posted as typical.) From that I can't tell if the picture was actually overexposed, i.e. bright bins got full before the exposure was done, or if it was in the software doing post processing of the raw data, or if it was in conversion to jpg or some combination of the above. If that was a point and shoot auto-exposure it wasn't very good. I use my DSLR on manual anyway. It's been years since I've checked in on the quality of the sensors on phones. It used to be that while some were high resolution, they were all physically small with thus inherent poor noise floors. Are they getting better?

  9. +Patrick Horgan​​ yes I would say since last year the sensors are very impressive in noise and dynamic range at low sensitivities, and ramp up much better at higher ISOs too mostly because the sizes are getting bigger.
    Some but not all phones are benefiting from very sharp lens too, resolving more details than most DSLR affordable zooms.
    So the potential is high, and the results depend a lot on the automatisms, then processing and also computational photography capabilities relying on multiple frames.

    On these new Nexus the sensor seems excellent (it's big and latest Sony process), lens okay but not as sharp as some.

  10. Yeah, I'm seeing a strange neon gradient in the sky of many of the outdoor sample shots. It looks like it's getting blown out. Google still doesn't seem to be that great at the software side of photo processing and auto exposure.

    On the bright side, the low light samples look very good and preserve a fair amount of detail compared to the competition.

    Theoretically Google should be able to fix some of these issues with updates, but who knows if that'll ever happen.

  11. I never shoot autoexposure anyway. It is vanishingly unlikely that software will make the same choices of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO that I would on any shot. With focus, if my aperture is open, it is possible to get focus on what I want with autofocus most of the time, but annoying. I would rather focus myself and not worry about it. Until phones give me the controls that I can operate without looking at them, it isn't really the right tool for me. Any phone have a focus ring yet? Otherwise how do you choose the focal point with a narrow depth of field?

  12. +François Simond Well, at least in that one example (sky blown out, tree-lined street underexposed) – I don't think even my A6000 could have gotten a correct exposure there. Just way too much DR in the scene (bright clouds in sky, shady street). There's no way that shot would've been anything but crap without HDR.

    No big deal, it's just another crappy phone camera, they're all horrible.

  13. The top 10 or so cameras are all really good. We are really trying to split hairs as though the camera is the only thing phones are for. Does anyone compare fucking reception? Can I text with this phone if I'm out of range of most of the others?

  14. +Dan K top 10? You mean DXO Mark?
    If you ask me, given the ratings of the Z5 and Nexus, and how the images actually come out in real world outdoor usage (bad lens flare on the Sony and what we see on the Nexus), their evaluation methodology is not representative and the rating almost arbitrary.

  15. +François Simond
    No, not DXO Mark. That's computer aided and looks for exact numbers, and colors. That doesn't make the best picture for the human eye, and, yes, the real world conditions. Forget top 10, I'm talking about the flagships with well regarded cameras. This camera obsession is just more fanboyism because they are running out of things to argue about.

  16. +Dan K how important is image quality from smartphone cameras depends highly on the user and their usage.
    Some barely take any picture, while for others it's the most important thing as they record their life, kids, experiences, then share what matters to them – sometimes with an artistic perspective.
    The debate about camera quality is always going on as there's still a large gap between devices on market, especially on how reliable the camera turns out in all sort of situations.

  17. The good thing is, i can deal with overexposing, while i can't really deal with sucky postprocessing. (Okay, what i can't deal with is lower dynamic range compared to other phones, maybe i have take this into account more)
    What i still want to know is why the 5X lacks IS in video, while the Moto X Pure does it really well. Different ISP maybe? ;(
    Apart from all that, i'm happy that the 5X camera doesn't need to hide in comparison to the S6, G4 or the X Play, at least as far as i can judge.

  18. +Brian Z​​ yes it's always interesting to observe, and fortunately concerns only a minority of people here. Also interesting are some reviewers rating the camera as excellent despite the camera samples in their own articles (like +Ars Technica​​​)
    Maybe because unless they feel very confident in their own technical analysis they don't see themselves going against DXOMark.

  19. Hmm, what i've seen so far, considering the resolved detail seems better than what you get from the z5 and the m9 for example, and the (edit: not anandtech) arstechnica – daylight samples even looked as good as the iPhone ones to me?. The overexposure pointed out by +François Simond (supercurio) is the only problem i'm aware of now. Although i'm far from an expert, i think i can see when a phonecamera is not very good, why i got quite upset about the good ratings for the Z3 for example. Since i don't want a S6, G4 and most likely not a Moto X Pure for various reasons, i'm happy that the cameras of the 2015 Nexus lineup turned out how they did (despite the lack of OIS), and frankly i don't really get the negativity?
    Of course i'm eager to see a review by anandtech, and it seems the battery life is also only mediocre (again :() but right now the 5X seems to provide the best package for me. I know the Nexus will have weird bugs, unexplainable battery drains and other problems again in the future, but IMO the only solution to that is to not use an Android phone, which i don't want. 😛

  20. +Daniel Becker​ I read again +Ars Technica​​ article and +Ron Amadeo​​ says that he left every phone in their default Auto HDR setting.
    It means this is with HDR+
    http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/5x-2.jpg
    It's just inexcusable overexposure for 2015 point and shoot, this scene representing absolutely no difficulty and being quite common. I would qualify the HDR+ on Nexus 5X implementation as "buggy".
    The Nexus 6 sample pic for comparison is concerning. Nexus 5 image is the best of the Google phones there.
    That's why I wrote there's more work needed in the OP.

    AnandTech samples? I missed those! Link please ☺

    Fortunately there's also plenty of fine picture samples found in the forums, but I wouldn't recommend it to buy to anyone in the current state, as the camera can crap all over itself in the most innocuous situations.

  21. Shoot RAW and carefully post process.
    HDR is easily broken or ugly. (IMNSHO)

    If the camera really switched to spot on tap to focus, that'd be something I'd consider broken if default behaviour as this must be an option.
    And it shouldn't switch from matrix to spot without option to use center weighted with tap to focus.
    Really makes me wish I had my 6P yet as I'd like to have some hands on experience with that cam to see where it shines or fails.

  22. +François Simond I agree, in the ars batch, between the photos taken outside, the Nexus 5 are probably the ones with better exposure, can't see why the editor depicted them as a muddy mess?
    Anyway I never ever use HDR+ on my N5 and usually go with Manual Camera, unless it's a really quick shot.
    I'm pretty sure this camera is very, very good, with a subpar app I'm probably not going to use most of the time.

  23. +Daniel Becker​ thanks for the link!
    On the regular picture the artifacts you see are noise, sharpening and noise reduction.
    The JPEG engine is quite nicely tuned tho I must say, although it could use a little less sharpening and a bit more luminance noise reduction in low light.
    The chroma noise reduction is well adjusted I think.

    HDR+, using multiple exposures to extend the dynamic range and reduce noise gives excellent results in those low light examples!

  24. +François Simond Damn, wrote the post as reply, reply-window closed: booh G+. 😛

    I like the quality as well, nothing too bad and with the 5X, you can always go for RAW, i guess (still searching for samples of that!). I think I'll pick the 5X after all, EIS and a better speaker would be nice, but, well..

    I know a bit how "classic" HDR works, but i didn't know that you could get a better "signal" and less noise by combining multiple exposures. Sounds logical, but quite elaborate to do.

  25. Androidauthority has its 6P review online, with hdr and no-hdr samples. The difference in detail (could be just added film grain as well ;p) makes me wonder what you could do with it on a Moto X 2015 or other devices.

  26. +Daniel Becker​ okay watched, interesting samples indeed. It's not an HDR algorithm but super-resolution (better sharpness and lower noise) + automatic local contrast enhancements, the former acting like what Google+ photos had with automatic photos tuning.
    On some pics it works great, on some others it's just way off by alternatively compressing (HDR tone mapping) or extending the dynamic range (local contrast enhancements to make low contrast images pop more).

    Its not a bad idea, too bad the implementation falls short by being unpredictable, damaging or destroying some otherwise fine pictures.

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