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Google Pixel 6a Camera test

OTHER AVAILABLE TESTS FOR THIS DEVICE

We put the Google Pixel 6a  through our rigorous DXOMARK Camera test suite to measure its performance in photo, video, and zoom quality from an end-user perspective. This article breaks down how the device fared in a variety of tests and several common use cases and is intended to highlight the most important results of our testing with an extract of the captured data.

Overview

Key camera specifications:

  • Primary:12.2 MP 1/2.55″ sensor, 1.4 μm pixels, 77° field of view, f/1.7 aperture lens, Dual PDAF, OIS
  • Ultra-wide: 12MP, 1.25 μm pixels, 114° field of view, f/2.2 aperture lens
  • Video: 4K at 60/30fps, 1080p at 60/30fps

Google Pixel 6a
130
camera
140
Photo
102

111

107

Best

100

109

101

111

80

102

76

77

60

82

65

80

66

80

58
Zoom
71

140

38

58

111
Video
106

118

101

107

92

109

78

99

93

105

80

94

103

Best

Pros

  • Nice and accurate color for photo and video
  • Good exposure and wide dynamic range in bright light and indoors
  • Effective video stabilization

Cons

  • Lack of detail at medium range tele zoom and longer
  • Some image noise in all light conditions
  • Loss of fine detail in low light
  • Bokeh blur effect not visible in preview

The Google Pixel 6a is the least expensive model in the Pixel 6 series, featuring slightly less sophisticated camera hardware than the Pixel 6, which uses a larger image sensor in the primary camera module. Like the Pixel 6, it also has to make do without the 6 Pro’s dedicated tele camera.

Despite the hardware differences, image rendering is overall very close to the standard Pixel 6, and the 6a comes very close to the impressive score of its sister model in our DXOMARK Camera tests. Test performance is especially close for exposure and color. Hardware limitations are more noticeable in terms of image noise, detail and tele zoom quality. On the plus side, the 6a’s smaller sensor offers a slightly wider depth of field which provides better sharpness on background subjects.

Google Pixel 6a Camera Scores vs High-End
This graph compares DXOMARK photo, zoom and video scores between the tested device and references. Average and maximum scores of the price segment are also indicated. Average and maximum scores for each price segment are computed based on the DXOMARK database of devices tested.

Test summary

About DXOMARK Camera tests: DXOMARK’s Camera evaluations take place in laboratories and in real-world situations using a wide variety of subjects. The scores rely on objective tests for which the results are calculated directly by measurement software on our laboratory setups, and on perceptual tests in which a sophisticated set of metrics allow a panel of image experts to compare aspects of image quality that require human judgment. Testing a smartphone involves a team of engineers and technicians for about a week. Photo, Zoom, and Video quality are scored separately and then combined into an Overall score for comparison among the cameras in different devices. For more information about the DXOMARK Camera protocol, click here. More details on smartphone camera scores are available here. The following section gathers key elements of DXOMARK’s exhaustive tests and analyses. Full performance evaluations are available upon request. Please contact us  on how to receive a full report.

Photo

140

Google Pixel 6a

153

Honor Magic4 Ultimate
About DXOMARK Camera Photo tests

For scoring and analysis, DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate more than 2,600 test images both in controlled lab environments and in outdoor, indoor and low-light natural scenes, using the camera’s default settings. The photo protocol is designed to take into account the main use cases and is based on typical shooting scenarios, such as portraits, family, and landscape photography. The evaluation is performed by visually inspecting images against a reference of natural scenes, and by running objective measurements on images of charts captured in the lab under different lighting conditions from 1 to 1,000+ lux and color temperatures from 2,300K to 6,500K.

When shooting still images, the Pixel 6a puts in an excellent performance for color and shares the top score for this sub-category with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The camera also does very well for exposure, especially in low light and night scenes. Target exposure is consistently accurate, and dynamic range is wide down to low light.

In terms of autofocus, the 6a does even slightly better than the 6 and 6 Pro, despite some slight difficulties in challenging low-light scenes. In addition, its wider depth of field allows for group shots with better detail on all faces. It’s not quite as good as the iPhone SE in this respect, though.

Compared to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, the 6a’s most noticeable drawbacks are shadow noise, even in bright light, and a lower level of captured detail in all light conditions.

Google Pixel 6a Photo scores vs High-End
The photo tests analyze image quality attributes such as exposure, color, texture, and noise in various light conditions. Autofocus performances and the presence of artifacts on all images captured in controlled lab conditions and in real-life images are also evaluated. All these attributes have a significant impact on the final quality of the images captured with the tested device and can help to understand the camera's main strengths and weaknesses.

Exposure

102

Google Pixel 6a

111

Honor Magic4 Ultimate

Exposure and color are the key attributes for technically good pictures. For exposure, the main attribute evaluated is the brightness of the main subject through various use cases such as landscape, portrait, or still life. Other factors evaluated are the contrast and the dynamic range, eg. the ability to render visible details in both bright and dark areas of the image. Repeatability is also important, because it demonstrates the camera's ability to provide the same rendering when shooting several images of the same scene.
For color, the image quality attributes analyzed are skin-tone rendering, white balance, color shading, and repeatability. For color and skin tone rendering, we penalize unnatural colors but we respect a manufacturer's choice of color signature.

 Google Pixel 6a – accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range, loss of fine detail, noise
 Google Pixel 6 – accurate target exposure, wide dynamic range, better detail and lower noise
Apple iPhone SE (2022) – underexposure, strong noise

Color

107

Google Pixel 6a

Best

 

 Google Pixel 6a  – nice color and accurate skin tones, lack of fine detail on subject, fairly good depth of field
 Google Pixel 6 – nice color, accurate skin tones in almost all conditions, high level of details, slightly narrower depth of field
Apple iPhone SE (2022) – skin tones sometimes inaccurate, high level of detail, excellent depth of field

Autofocus

100

Google Pixel 6a

109

Asus Smartphone for Snapdragon Insiders

Autofocus tests concentrate on focus accuracy, focus repeatability, shooting time delay, and depth of field. Shooting delay is the difference between the time the user presses the capture button and the time the image is actually taken. It includes focusing speed and the capability of the device to capture images at the right time, what is called 'zero shutter lag' capability. Even if a shallow depth of field can be pleasant for a single subject portrait or close-up shot, it can also be a problem in some specific conditions such as group portraits; Both situations are tested. Focus accuracy is also evaluated in all the real-life images taken, from infinity to close-up objects and in low light to outdoor conditions.

 

Autofocus irregularity and speed: 1000Lux Δ0EV Daylight Handheld
This graph illustrates focus accuracy and speed and also zero shutter lag capability by showing the edge acutance versus the shooting time measured on the AFHDR setup on a series of pictures. All pictures were taken at 1000Lux with Daylight illuminant, 500ms after the defocus. The edge acutance is measured on the four edges of the Dead Leaves chart, and the shooting time is measured on the LED Universal Timer.

Texture

101

Google Pixel 6a

111

Xiaomi Mi 11

Texture tests analyze the level of details and the texture of subjects in the images taken in the lab as well as in real-life scenarios. For natural shots, particular attention is paid to the level of details in the bright and dark areas of the image. Objective measurements are performed on chart images taken in various lighting conditions from 1 to 1000 lux and different kinds of dynamic range conditions. The charts used are the proprietary DXOMARK chart (DMC) and the Dead Leaves chart.

DXOMARK CHART (DMC) detail preservation score vs lux levels for tripod and handheld conditions
This graph shows the evolution of the DMC detail preservation score with the level of lux, for two holding conditions. DMC detail preservation score is derived from an AI-based metric trained to evaluate texture and details rendering on a selection of crops of our DXOMARK chart.

Noise

80

Google Pixel 6a

102

Honor Magic4 Ultimate

Noise tests analyze various attributes of noise such as intensity, chromaticity, grain, structure on real-life images as well as images of charts taken in the lab. For natural images, particular attention is paid to the noise on faces, landscapes, but also on dark areas and high dynamic range conditions. Noise on moving objects is also evaluated on natural images. Objective measurements are performed on images of charts taken in various conditions from 1 to 1000 lux and different kinds of dynamic range conditions. The chart used is the Dead Leaves chart and the standardized measurement such as Visual Noise derived from ISO 15739.

Visual noise evolution with illuminance levels in handheld condition
This graph shows the evolution of visual noise metric with the level of lux in handheld condition. The visual noise metric is the mean of visual noise measurement on all patches of the Dead Leaves chart in the AFHDR setup. DXOMARK visual noise measurement is derived from ISO15739 standard.

Artifacts

76

Google Pixel 6a

77

Google Pixel 6

The artifacts evaluation looks at lens shading, chromatic aberrations, geometrical distortion, edges ringing, halos, ghosting, quantization, unexpected color hue shifts, among others type of possible un-natural effects on photos. The more severe and the more frequent the artifact, the higher the point deduction on the score. The main artifacts observed and corresponding point loss are listed below.

Main photo artifacts penalties

Preview

66

Google Pixel 6a

80

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Preview tests analyze the image quality of the camera app's preview of the image, with particular attention paid to the difference between the capture and the preview, especially regarding dynamic range and the application of the bokeh effect. Also evaluated is the smoothness of the exposure, color and focus adaptation when zooming from the minimal to the maximal zoom factor available. The preview frame rate is measured using the LED Universal Timer.

Preview – no bokeh effect applied to preview image
Capture – visible depth artifacts around subject in bokeh mode

Zoom

58

Google Pixel 6a

107

Honor Magic4 Ultimate
About DXOMARK Camera Zoom tests

DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate over 400 test images in controlled lab environments and in outdoor, indoor, and low-light natural scenes, using the camera’s default settings and pinch zoom at various zoom factors from ultra wide to very long-range zoom. The evaluation is performed by visually inspecting the images against a reference of natural scenes, and by running objective measurements of chart mages captured in the lab under different conditions from 20 to 1000 lux and color temperatures from 2300K to 6500K.

In terms of zoom, the Google Pixel 6a delivers mixed results but is overall in line with the competition in its price segment. The ultra-wide camera offers good image quality on the same level as Google’s flagship phone Pixel 6 Pro. However, the lack of a dedicated tele camera means that performance at medium and long-range tele zoom is low, especially when compared to the 6 Pro,whose dedicated 4x tele is among the best we have tested for long range.

Wide

38

Google Pixel 6a

58

Honor Magic4 Ultimate

These tests analyze the performance of the ultra-wide camera at several focal lengths from 12 mm to 20 mm. All image quality attributes are evaluated, with particular attention paid to such artifacts as chromatic aberrations, lens softness, and distortion. Pictures below are an extract of tested scenes.

Google Pixel 6a, ultra-wide – accurate exposure, pleasant color, fairly good level of detail
Google Pixel 6, ultra-wide – almost identical image quality

Tele

71

Google Pixel 6a

140

Honor Magic4 Ultimate

All image quality attributes are evaluated at focal lengths from approximately 40 mm to 300 mm, with particular attention paid to texture and detail. The score is derived from a number of objective measurements in the lab and perceptual analysis of real-life images.

DXOMARK CHART (DMC) detail preservation zoom score for different zoom-in framings
This graph shows the evolution of the DMC detail preservation zoom score with the focal length in outdoor conditions. DMC detail preservation score is derived from an AI-based metric trained to evaluate texture and details rendering on a selection of crops of our DXOMARK chart.
DXOMARK CHART (DMC) detail preservation zoom score for different zoom-in framings
This graph shows the evolution of the DMC detail preservation zoom score with the focal length in indoor conditions. DMC detail preservation score is derived from an AI-based metric trained to evaluate texture and details rendering on a selection of crops of our DXOMARK chart.
DXOMARK CHART (DMC) detail preservation zoom score for different zoom-in framings
This graph shows the evolution of the DMC detail preservation zoom score with the focal length in lowlight conditions. DMC detail preservation score is derived from an AI-based metric trained to evaluate texture and details rendering on a selection of crops of our DXOMARK chart.

 

Video

111

Google Pixel 6a

119

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max
About DXOMARK Camera Video tests

DXOMARK engineers capture and evaluate more than 2.5 hours of video in controlled lab environments and in natural low-light, indoor and outdoor scenes, using the camera’s default settings. The evaluation consists of visually inspecting natural videos taken in various conditions and running objective measurements on videos of charts recorded in the lab under different conditions from 1 to 1000 lux and color temperatures from 2300 to 6500K.

In video mode, the Pixel 6a does well and is very close to the 6 and 6 Pro in terms of exposure, color, and stabilization. Results in these categories are excellent considering the price segment. On the downside, there is a strong drop of detail when compared to the best in class. Our testers also noticed an increase in perceived noise, especially in low-light scenes.

Google Pixel 6a Video scores vs High-End
Video tests analyze the same image quality attributes as for still images, such as exposure, color, texture, or noise, in addition to temporal aspects such as speed, and smoothness and stability of exposure, white balance, and autofocus transitions.

Exposure

106

Google Pixel 6a

118

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

 

Google Pixel 6a – accurate target exposure

Google Pixel 6 – accurate target exposure

Apple iPhone SE (2022) – slight underexposure in some backlit scenes

Color

101

Google Pixel 6a

107

Honor Magic4 Ultimate

Exposure tests evaluate the brightness of the main subject and the dynamic range, eg. the ability to render visible details in both bright and dark areas of the image. Stability and temporal adaption of the exposure are also analyzed.
Image-quality color analysis looks at color rendering, skin-tone rendering, white balance, color shading, stability of the white balance and its adaption when light is changing.

Google Pixel 6a – nice color rendering

Google Pixel 6 – nice color rendering

Apple iPhone SE (2022) – nice color rendering

Texture

78

Google Pixel 6a

99

Oppo Reno6 Pro 5G (Snapdragon)

Texture tests analyze the level of details and texture of the real-life videos as well as the videos of charts recorded in the lab. Natural videos recordings are visually evaluated, with particular attention paid to the level of details in the bright and areas as well as in the dark. Objective measurements are performed of images of charts taken in various conditions from 1 to 1000 lux. The charts used are the DXOMARK chart (DMC) and Dead Leaves chart.

DXOMARK CHART (DMC) detail preservation video score vs lux levels
This graph shows the evolution of the DMC detail preservation video score with the level of lux in video. DMC detail preservation score is derived from an AI-based metric trained to evaluate texture and details rendering on a selection of crops of our DXOMARK chart.

Noise

93

Google Pixel 6a

105

Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max

Noise tests analyze various attributes of noise such as intensity, chromaticity, grain, structure, temporal aspects on real-life video recording as well as videos of charts taken in the lab. Natural videos are visually evaluated, with particular attention paid to the noise in the dark areas and high dynamic range conditions. Objective measurements are performed on the videos of charts recorded in various conditions from 1 to 1000 lux. The chart used is the DXOMARK visual noise chart.

Spatial visual noise evolution with the illuminance level
This graph shows the evolution of spatial visual noise with the level of lux. Spatial visual noise is measured on the visual noise chart in the video noise setup. DXOMARK visual noise measurement is derived from ISO15739 standard.
Temporal visual noise evolution with the illuminance level
This graph shows the evolution of temporal visual noise with the level of lux. Temporal visual noise is measured on the visual noise chart in the video noise setup.

Stabilization

103

Google Pixel 6a

Best

Stabilization evaluation tests the ability of the device to stabilize footage thanks to software or hardware technologies such as OIS, EIS, or any others means. The evaluation looks at residual motion, smoothness, jellow artifacts and residual motion blur on walk and run use cases in various lighting conditions. The video below is an extract from one of the tested scenes.

Google Pixel 6a – good stabilization

Google Pixel 6 – similar stabilization

Apple iPhone SE (2022) – good stabilization

Artifacts

80

Google Pixel 6a

94

Oppo Find X2 Pro

Artifacts are evaluated with MTF and ringing measurements on the SFR chart in the lab as well as frame-rate measurements using the LED Universal Timer. Natural videos are visually evaluated by paying particular attention to artifacts such as aliasing, quantization, blocking, and hue shift, among others. The more severe and the more frequent the artifact, the higher the point deduction from the score. The main artifacts and corresponding point loss are listed below.

Main video artifacts penalties

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