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Last year in April, I reviewed the Nexus 6 for its camera performance and frankly speaking, I liked the results.
Yes the Google’s default camera app was a bit “simple” in my opinion but the actual picture quality of the primary camera was well-acceptable and pleasing.
This time, I have the Nexus 6P under my microscope.
I am going to give you my verdict about its camera performance and picture quality in this article from an average consumer’s point of view. I have included 15 sample shots for you which I have taken during my past few weeks with this flagship by Huawei/Google.
Has Nexus 6P done enough to compete with the cameras of the other flagships in the industry?
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It is a common user’s verdict.
Don’t assume that I am a pro when it comes to taking photos with a smartphone.
I like point an shoot photography and Google’s Nexus 6P with its basic but practical default camera app is aimed for that kind of photography. The lack of manual mode and controls offered by the Google camera app are clear indications that Google has targeted an end user here who does not want to go into the details and settings for most of his smartphone-photography needs.
However, if you like manually adjusting the settings and want to try a third party camera app which offers more control and features, you are always welcome to do that.
Secondly, all pictures are taken without the help of any accessories such as lens, tripod or filter etc. All pictures are taken in default settings (auto mode) by the camera app.
Finally, after taking the photographs, I have not edited the photos for imaging details except adding captions and inserting logo. I have tried to simulate a common user’s situation where on day to day basis a smartphone is used to capture photos for its owner.
I have tested the camera in bright, sunny and daylight conditions and the results can be seen below.
All pictures came out well-exposed, natural-looking and rich in colours. In fact, Nexus 6P camera did a great job to keep “over-exposure” to minimum in the final results. The overall tone was “very sightly” on the darker side to keep the sun and brightness not affecting the overall picture.
However at the same time, the app gives you an option to touch your desired area on the screen (to focus) and the overall brightness of the frame is adjusted according to the area/object which you tapped. This means that the exposure control is still available if you want to use it – in a practical and least-interrupting manner.
I am impressed.
You can clearly see that in all the pictures shown above, the shutter speed has been faster than 1/1000 with the ISO value fixed at 60 (lowest automatically assigned value by the camera in default mode). These pictures are taken in bright sunny conditions and Nexus 6P did an excellent job to produce pleasing and balanced results generally.
This is the most common situation for most of us. When we think that the light is just enough (plus/minus a touch) for the camera.
Nexus 6P’s camera did exceptionally well again.
The most noticeable point was that the colours produced were real to life, natural-looking and deep. The whole frame was in full focus (except where Bokeh effect is tried to achieve in picture no. 4 below) and overall tonal quality of the pictures remained balanced and pleasing to eyes.
Have a look at the following set of 5 pictures to give you a flavour of Nexus 6P camera performance and quality in medium (normal) lighting conditions.
Something where I have seen many smartphone cameras to struggle – low light.
I am not hesitant to say that the Nexus 6P performed well in evening and night shots to produce crisp, real-to-life and balanced results. You can see in most of the following pictures that the ISO value has been in excess of 1000 (which is a high ISO number for a smartphone camera) and results are surprisingly good.
Obviously every smartphone camera has its limitations when it comes to low-light photography but Nexus 6P for me performed really well in these circumstances.
Honestly speaking, I was not expecting this quality of results in low light from 6P but I was mildly and pleasantly surprised by the picture quality I have experienced with this device.
No smartphone camera is without its limitations.
We are not talking about DSLR cameras here. Not even a decent point-and-shoot either.
We have to analyse the things in perspective – a 1/2.3 inch sensor fitted in a device whose primary function is to make and receive phone calls.
Nexus 6P (and Nexus 5X) camera does not come with the optical image stabilisation (OIS) which is commonly found in other flagships of 2015 (and early 2016) such as Samsung’s Galaxy S6/Edge and LG’s G4. Personally, I did not find it to be a major issue for point and shoot photography but depending on your nature of use, it can be an extremely beneficial feature to keep shakiness and blurriness to minimal in low lighting conditions.
Secondly, Nexus 6P has a 12.3 mega pixels camera which is roughly half the resolution of my previous Android phone (Sony Xperia Z5 with 23 MP sensor). Yes I agree that the mega pixels don’t always play the main role in deciding how good a camera can perform but the amount of detail it can capture is dependent on the camera resolution. When I tried to manually zoom into the pictures to see captured details, I found it to be a “slight limitation” of the device.
Having said that and as a common user, I found the 12.3 MP resolution to be perfectly fine for my day to day use.
Finally the camera app itself can be both a strength or a weakness of this device.
If you like manual controls and features to refine your photography with your flagship Android device, you will have to look elsewhere in terms of installing and using a third party camera app. You can consider FV-5 or Manual Camera apps for this purpose.
On the other hand, if you are a casual shooter like me, the default Google camera app is both fast and efficient. It is simple to use and quick to shoot app – no messing around. Google has clearly targeted a specific set of users here.
If you ask me personally, with such a good camera and set-up, I wish the Google camera app had a switch to take me to the “manual mode” where all options are available to me to control my photographic needs. At least this way I have a peace of mind that it is a “one-stop-shop” for taking pictures in my flagship Nexus device.
In macros and close-ups, it did not impress me. In general day to day photography, it did.
Overall, I am not hesitant to say that it is the best Nexus camera experience that I have enjoyed to date.
Nexus 6 last year was good but Nexus 6P is even better in camera quality.
However, at the same time I must say that it can not beat the quality of the camera experience that I had with my LG G4 a few months ago.
As I am writing this review in April 2016, I am expecting the standards and benchmarks to be even higher in smartphone photography. Devices like Galaxy S7/Edge, LG G5 and HTC 10 are already announced and their camera performance is assumed to be a tough call for the Nexus 6P.
Overall, well done Huawei and Google for giving us a very good camera experience for common users with their day to day camera use.
“Nexus 6P gets my 8 out of 10 (feels good) for overall camera experience with default camera app.”
Have you used Nexus 6P or 5X and have your feedback to share with us about their camera quality?
Do you think that manual controls are “must-have” and to be included in the Google camera app in the future?