Google Nexus 6P: Night scene shots are especially stunning

PHOTO: GOOGLE

The main highlight of Google Nexus 6P's rear camera is its fairly large 1/2.3-inch image sensor, which features the largest pixel size in this round-up, at 1.55 micron.

In theory, this means its sensor should be able to capture more light per pixel and so give better image quality. The camera packs a pretty wide 26mm f/2.0 lens.

You can activate the camera by swiping from the bottom-right corner of the lock screen, where the camera icon is. Or by pressing the power button twice. Either of the volume buttons can be used as shutter release.

Powered by the native Android 6.0 Marshmallow operating system, the camera app is simple and comes with Auto HDR+ capability, which automatically adjusts the exposure to provide consistency throughout the picture.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: From $949

    REAR CAMERA: 12.2-megapixel (1/2.3-inch) 26mm f/2.0

    FRONT-FACING CAMERA: 8-megapixel 25.9mm f/2.4

Like the iPhone, there are no manual controls. But you can shoot in modes like Panorama, Photo Sphere and Lens Blur.

Photo Sphere creates a 360-degree image, but the results are not very satisfactory, with visible overlaps between adjoining shots. Lens Blur lets you make the subject of your photo stand out by blurring the background, known also as the bokeh effect. It might be just software rendering, but the resulting bokeh effect is quite pleasing and looks natural.

Overall, the image quality is excellent and right up there with the iPhone 6s Plus. But I was especially gobsmacked by the stunning quality of the night scene shots captured with this camera. It was able to deliver the sharp night images with accurate artificial and ambient lighting. Even the clouds in the dark night sky were visible and correctly exposed. It easily won the night scene contest in this round-up.

Its panoramic images were even better than in the iPhone 6s Plus, which is quite a feat. The Nexus 6P managed to correctly expose the different shots that make up a panoramic image and stitched them together seamlessly.

But it did not fare so well under low-light conditions. The images shot with and without flash showed little difference. I also found the skin tones to be on the darker side, compared with those taken with the iPhone 6s Plus.

Selfies were not bad, with good skin tones and accurate reproduction of the ambient light. But not as good as the phones by the Korean chaebols in this group.

I was a bit disappointed by the landscape shot in bright sunlight. While the dark areas were nicely rendered, with true-to-life colours and crisp details, the blue sky and white clouds were slightly overexposed.

Trevor Tan

•Verdict: Watch out, iPhone, Google Nexus 6P's camera is going to give you a run for your money with its night and panoramic performances.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 06, 2016, with the headline 'Night scene shots are especially stunning'. Print Edition | Subscribe