When Google declared that the Pixels have been acquiring an update to insert a complete underwater photography mode, we ended up pretty curious what its success would look like. Certain, the corporation delivered samples, but there is certainly no telling how curated the selection was, or how it would get the job done anecdotally. Sad to say, none of us at Android Police have the time (or dollars) to invest in diving — it is really an highly-priced pastime. Fortunately, Matthew Franklin, a good friend of the site, was ready to choose his Pixel 4 and a appropriate diving scenario on a latest trip underwater.
We tested the Pixel 4’s underwater photography chops with the Kraken Sports KRH04 universal dive case, so we’ll start off there.
Kraken Sports activities KRHO4 dive scenario
Franklin identified the situation to be pretty robustly crafted and equivalent in top quality and design to the sorts of diving housings you come across for SLRs — appropriate, given the $325 selling price tag. It is really made out of elements like aluminum and glass, with a handful of the additional challenging bits (like the hinges and the screen protect by itself) remaining a pretty resilient-seeming plastic. Your Pixel’s display is visible by way of a window on the entrance, buttons are easily accessible and pressed even by thick gloves, and the circumstance has threaded mounts for factors like lights.
The most substantial element of the situation, and a single of the items that permit it to get the job done underwater as nicely as it does, is the built-in vacuum system, which allows you check the seals right before each and every dive to keep your mobile phone safe. Hook it up to a hand pump, give it a number of squeezes, and a green light arrives on when the inside hits close to 650mBar. If the light-weight stays on just after a though, that means the strain hasn’t transformed, your seals are fantastic, there in all probability aren’t any leaks, and you are all set to dive. In point, Franklin specifically called out a double O-ring seal on the vacuum port and its pressure-release valve as especially very good style and design, supplying superior protection on the 1 seal the tension sensor can’t examination.
Your Pixel (in our case, a Pixel 4) can be put inside of the scenario though in its very own individual protective scenario, matryoshka-type. It snaps proper into the KRH04 and its spring-loaded retention clip swiftly and securely. On the other hand, Franklin mentioned that the mechanism relies on the phone’s top and bottom again getting fairly flat, so some cases or equipment with sturdy curves in their design could not operate effectively with it.
Like most underwater camera housings, the situation is negatively buoyant (examine: it sinks), which I’m explained to counter-intuitively increases the possibilities of restoration should really you fall it. “Just a number of dives back, I saved a GoPro mainly because it sank again to the wreck we were on — anything at all that floats is probably long gone without end!”
He did run into a several troubles with the circumstance, though:
“My to start with overview sample had the shutter button fail at some position among when I got it and right after first use. I’m not guaranteed at all what occurred the system seems actually strong. A 2nd unit has not had this issue. There is no car-off features, so you will undoubtedly want to obey the guidelines and clear away batteries when not in use. Diving can be tough on equipment, and despite currently being moderately thorough, I finished up with a few beauty scuffs in the anodized aluminum’s complete right after the initially dive. I individually desire it when my dive equipment has at the very least a several scars on it, but if it issues you, you are going to want to be cautious.”
Franklin has 1 excess little bit of suggestions: Make positive that the flash is disabled in the digital camera application just before placing the telephone in the circumstance. You can’t modify that placing although it is inside of, and the glass panel demonstrates the flash, which can wreck your photographs. It may well not appear like an situation in shallows, the place you could have adequate light that even an automatic flash environment is not brought on, but the further you go, the darker it receives, and you will not want it switching to applying the flash on its personal, simply because you can’t deal with that mid-dive.
Google’s Dive Connector App
Google’s companion Dive Connector Application performed nearly flawlessly, although you do need to comply with an get of functions whilst disconnecting for every thing to function as it must.
The app connects making use of the case’s built-in Bluetooth, and the pairing approach is quick and straightforward with secure connectivity. Just convert the situation on, then tap “hook up circumstance” in the Dive Connector application. You can find a eco-friendly light-weight that blinks when unpaired and solid although paired.
Franklin experimented with to simulate a shed relationship by disconnecting the case’s batteries though it was running, and the case automatically reconnected after electric power was restored. The only genuine problem is that if you energy off the circumstance prior to disconnecting inside of the app, the application will still report the circumstance as linked — ultimately, you have to power-close the application to disconnect if you do that in the improper purchase.
The application is pretty standard, but you can configure configurations like an overlay that seems in the digicam app’s viewfinder. For the KRH04, that only features battery degrees for the phone and scenario, but far more quality dive conditions like the KRH03 incorporate depth and temperature facts. The overlay facts isn’t really burned into pictures like with previous-model cameras or anything at all like that, but Franklin did assume obtaining a way to incorporate that data jointly with EXIF details would be a helpful feature for Google to insert. Together with a way to disable the flash setting even though the cell phone is in the circumstance would also be useful — as we touched on right before, you cannot switch it off the moment it is in place.
But, in shorter, the application is just listed here to make certain the situation and its buttons operate, and it does its career.
When you use the circumstance underwater, you’re in essence making use of your digital camera from the lock-monitor shortcut. That suggests confined access to the gadget in a not-nevertheless-authenticated way, so you can only accessibility images taken in the current session (i.e., since the display screen was last turned on). Just in scenario, Franklin tried using to enjoy with it a number of various ways to see if the situation posed any opportunity lockscreen-bypassing strategies, but your Pixel is continue to seemingly as safe as it is or else.
Using shots is pretty pure, and you have a devoted shutter button plus some helpful extra buttons that give you components controls for points like auto-target level, zoom, and digital camera method. You can also review photos you have taken applying individuals buttons, but only for the present “session” (yet again: owing to cellular phone lock).
Even in chilly drinking water, points like fogging and condensation were not problems, however white balance occasionally was:
“On our dives, the white harmony finished up all about the put thanks to modifying lighting problems – my buddy had a online video light-weight for some of the pics (at various ranges), and from time to time the only light was the ambient green murk of southern California.”
Our photo samples bear out that claim:
The Pixel can typically compensate very well adequate for the underwater lighting situation and the messed up white equilibrium that makes, though the green hue you can expect to see in most of our illustrations is more a final result of southern California’s water than any challenge with the Pixel. In either circumstance, more lights can help — contemplate springing for a waterproof dive gentle. And, of program, you can however consider pics higher than the drinking water with the case you require to:
The surface pics right here ended up taken employing the KRH03 — general performance ought to be equivalent.
In the long run, Franklin liked both equally the Pixel 4’s underwater pictures chops and the dive case’s functionality. It is admittedly an high priced smartphone accent, but fairly considerably all diving gear is — in some approaches, $325 is actually on the inexpensive side. As well as, it operates with common mild trays and provides much improved efficiency than Go-Pro-like cameras underwater.
“Mobile phone cameras can create very substantial-high quality pictures these days, and for numerous men and women, this is perhaps a excellent stability of charge and overall performance if they really do not currently have a digicam that can in shape in a low-charge housing. Coming from my GoPro, it was brilliant to experience the reliably very good final results of my Pixel 4 camera underwater.”
Google’s cameras have managed to keep ahead of the curve even as they adhere with older hardware. We will be curious to see how the impending Pixel 6 performs underwater, but you can get some fairly good pictures out of the recent crop proper now, thanks to Google’s modern update and an underwater housing.
Acquire it if:
- You want to consider pictures with your Pixel underwater.
- You’re great with the accumulation of minor scuffs and scrapes — it would not stay pristine.
Really don’t get it if:
- You cannot adhere to fiddly guidance: Car-ability-off will not operate too reliably, so you need to have to just take the batteries out when not in use, and you have to disconnect items in a exact buy.
- You want something less expensive or want even better picture top quality — get a GoPro or a far better DSLR housing and camera.