Google Camera 8.1 Disables Pixel 5 Wide Lens for Astrophotography

An ultraviolet lens is the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4A 5G’s standalone camera hardware can be used to take wide astrophotography shots while attaching and launching. With the help of Google Camera 8.1 in November, that capability was quietly removed.

Astrophotography lets you take pictures of the night sky and can be activated by viewing the Night View tab on Google Cameras and fixing your pixels (3+). It can be used with a tripod, to rest against a rock, or to be pressed against another fixed surface. If no movement is found, the shutter button will change from a moon icon to a star, noting a message “Astrophotography On” at the top of the screen.

There’s also the option to zoom in before, when the Pixel 4 is 5G and 5 – at launch – lets you switch to an ultraviolet lens by tapping “.6x” or pinching out. This allows you to capture more of the sky for a 107-degree viewing area for a grand shot.

Google Camera 8.1, which rolled out in mid-November, removes the ability to switch to ultraviolet for astrophotography. These larger lenses are available in regular night sight shots but not for capture in pitch darkness. A message tells you to “zoom to 1x for astrophotography” before you can enter mode, when .6x disappears and you can’t re-search it once you enter.

A Google Help document was updated in early November to include the following note:

Important: At Pixel 4A (5G) and Pixel 5A, astrophotography only works in zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x.

There were people who used this feature when it was present, but it is certainly a well-known one now. With the change in sideloading, it is difficult to install older / different versions of Google’s Pixel applications without using the Play Store update method. As such, we were able to take wide .6x astrophotography screenshots in the Google Camera 8.0 on the Pixel 5.

However, you can uninstall the updates on Google Camera and go back to version 7.6 (from the app’s info screen) to see the ultraviolet astrophotography activity – see the first screenshot above. That release sent Pixel 5 out of the box. It has a slightly different UI than the 8.0 update that was meant to be set up and installed before installation.

Google never explained why the power was removed, but it was probably because of the overall quality.

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