Pixel 4 XL for Live Music Photography

Korn, 2020/02/16

I attended my first live gig since buying the Pixel 4 XL last Sunday, and the PIxel 4 was kinda hit or miss, I got some great photos, but the majority of them were blurry, the autofocus system, simply could not keep up with the flashing and moving lights, even when manually focusing on a member of the band.

My biggest annoyance was the zoom resetting every time I left the camera app and put the Pixel 4 in my pocket. It would reset back to the widest angle lens, which meant I missed a lot of shots, while I recomposed my shot. I could double-tap the screen to get back to 2x zoom relatively easily, but zooming past 2 times to 3 or 4 times was hard because of the zoom element onscreen being super sensitive.

Additionally, every time the camera app was launched, regardless of the previous setting, it would revert to the default camera mode. Delaying my next shot further while switching back to night sight mode.

Focus issues were the theme of the evening, the only times I could get a properly focused shot was when the lighting was static or not crossing the focus target, usually a member of the band. Of the 45 shots I took, half dozen were good. Some photos had horrific ghosting issues with the stage lighting being reflected in the lens, doubling, or ghosting the number of lights in the photograph, see below.

Korn, 2020/02/16, Ghosted Lights

Below is an example of a blurry, noisy shot caused by the Pixel 4 XL camera software reverting to the default camera mode, despite previously being set to use night sight mode.

Korn 2020/02/16 Blurry, Noisy Shot

I’m assuming that if I was closer to the stage, where much of the lighting would be going above the camera lens, the Pixel 4 would be able to better focus, taking sharper images. I shall reserve judgment on that for now, but from a medium distance live photography perspective, the Pixel AI misses the mark somewhat, seeming to get confused when there is a lot of fast-moving elements in the scene.

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