- Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone has one of the best cameras on any smartphone.
- It takes gorgeous photos, just like its iPhone equivalent.
- But even the Pixel 3 still struggles to keep up with a traditional camera.
Google’s new Pixel 3 smartphone is an excellent device in lots of ways.
It’s got sharp design, lightning-fast internals, and a best-in-class camera. In fact, the Pixel 3 camera is widely regarded as having the best camera available on a smartphone – even besting the latest iPhone.
One glance at this delectable-looking cookie my colleague Avery bought is a strong argument for how great the Pixel 3 is at taking beautiful, highly detailed photos:
But there’s a big difference between photography and video, and when it comes to video, even Google’s Pixel 3 camera is still miles away from competing with the likes of traditional cameras.
I was reminded of this while watching YouTube, of all things.
As someone obsessed with food – the eating and the cooking thereof – I watch every new video published by legendary food publication Bon Appétit. It’s an invaluable resource for my daily life.
Which is why I was taken aback when, seemingly out of nowhere, the fidelity of BA’s latest video was a massive dropoff from the usual standard. We’re talking about food videos here – quality is of prime importance. And this video in particular, a crucial video about making Thanksgiving turkey just weeks before the big day, was really rough.
Take a look:
What could’ve happened? A change in cameras? A new video producer who made a mistake?
Digging into the video’s information section unearthed an answer: The video was inexplicably shot on Google’s new Pixel 3 smartphone instead of a traditional camera. Google tells us it’s part of an ongoing sponsorship paid for by Google with Bon Appétit’s parent company, Condé Nast. We asked representatives for Condé Nast about how the show is normally shot, and were told, “We use a variety of cameras that shoot in 4K.”
The video is intended as a demonstration of the Pixel 3’s quality. Instead, it serves to highlight how far smartphone cameras still have to go to catch up with traditional video equipment.
Look no further than this other recent video from Bon Appétit to see for yourself:
Same guy (Bon Appétit senior food editor Andy Baraghani), same YouTube video series (“Andy Makes…”), but a massive difference in quality.
That’s because the latter video was shot with BA’s usual video equipment – dedicated camera bodies with swappable lenses – rather than a smartphone.
The video shot on the Pixel 3 looks like a home movie.
The framerate is jittery, and the focus is all over the place, and there’s a lot of noise in the image. It looks amateur, like it was shot on a phone, whereas the latter video has a stable framerate with clear detail. The second video looks professional, while the first video – shot on Pixel 3 by professional video producers – looks distinctly unprofessional.
Commenters on the video were similarly taken aback.
“This is not a good ad for the Google Pixel 3,” reads the latest comment. “Please don’t use the Pixel in the next videos, the quality compared to the old content is just worse. Great turkey tho!” another reads. “Please do not use a Pixel 3 to make videos. The quality of picture is not up to par with your other videos,” says yet another. They go on and on like that.
None of this is to say that the Pixel 3 isn’t capable of capturing attractive video; it absolutely can, and that’s particularly true when it comes to home videos. But the work that Bon Appétit’s video production department does is pro-level video work, and it’s clear that the Pixel 3 – the best smartphone camera out there – is nowhere near capable of matching that level of work.
Rather than advertise the Pixel 3’s ability, the video demonstrates just how far we still have to go with video captured on even the best smartphones.