In my review of the Xiaomi Redmi Note 8, I called it the smartphone to buy for those who don’t need a 64-megapixel camera. Since posting this review, I have recommended the smartphone to a number of people. While I haven’t heard any negative reviews yet, there is one more reason to buy Redmi Note 8 over its Pro sibling. With the launch of Vivo U20 and Realms 5s, the competition for the best sub-Rs 10,000 has become wide open. While we will render the verdict at a later stage, Xiaomi appears to have an advantage for the time being in the form of Google Camera. Also Read – Xiaomi Redmi Note 8, Global Sales of Redmi Note 8 Pro Surpass 10 Million Units in Three Months
If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, the deciding factor might be the camera. Nowadays, most smartphones share almost identical specifications and finding a good camera is always difficult. When Google launched its first Pixel smartphones in 2016, it made it clear that the camera software is as important as the camera hardware. Back-to-back launches have not only made Pixel the best smartphone camera, but its software – Google Camera – the best around. Since this is the software of an open source operating system, it is not difficult to get it on other devices. Also Read – Google Camera 7.2 With Astrophotography Mode, Pixel 4 UI Deployed On Older Pixel Smartphones
Watch: Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 review
A number of independent developers are working around the clock to modify the Google Camera app for non-Pixel Android devices. I installed several and found one that worked the best. The mod does not allow the use of the four cameras of the Redmi Note 8. The portrait mode also did not work as well as on the Pixel smartphones. So we’re mainly looking at the performance of the main camera in daylight and nighttime with Google Camera. Compared with the original camera, it becomes clear that GCAM produces images that are true to the source and has better dynamic range. Here’s a look at how GCAM makes the Redmi Note 8 an even better smartphone camera. Also read – Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Review: For those who don’t need a 64-megapixel camera
Key camera specs:
Four camera configuration
Primary: 48MP sensor 1/2 inch sensor with 26mm equivalent, f / 1.8 aperture lens, PDAF (12MP output resolution)
Ultra-wide: 8MP 1/4 inch sensor with 13mm equivalent lens at f / 2.2 aperture
Macro: 2MP 1/5 inch sensor, f / 2.4 lens for close focus
Depth: 1/5-inch 2MP sensor, f / 2.4 lens for portrait effects
Xiaomi Redmi Note 8: GCAM vs Stock Camera
The Redmi Note 8 has a main camera with a 48-megapixel Samsung GW1 sensor. This 1/2 inch sensor doesn’t offer the most accurate color reading and the camera software tends to make the output more impactful for the social media generation. When you install the Google Camera mod, you get more natural images in daylight. The examples below show how GCAM is able to absorb light without overcompensating for dynamic range or lack thereof. One of the things I have observed is the detail kept outside the central area of ââan image. On the outside, the Google Camera has a more precise exposure than the original camera. It’s important to note that the original camera isn’t bad, but there is a legitimate way to click better images.
As you can see for yourself, the exposure with the original camera tends to look soft around the edges. Highlights are cut off in some scenes and white balance may be inaccurate. Google Camera Mod solves these issues with natural dynamic range, precise exposure, and white balance. The difference is so subtle that you won’t see them directly on your smartphone screen. One of the things you will notice after switching to the GCAM mod is the stability of the handling of HDR scenes. Xiaomi struggles to maintain a standard HDR profile when shooting in bright light. However, my friends who saw the footage preferred the output from the stored camera to that from Google Camera. No matter what camera software you use, the overall usability of images taken with Redmi Note 8 remains high.
When you look at Redmi Note 8 as a smartphone priced at Rs 10,000, many of its caveats can be overlooked. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s perfect. Having a 48-megapixel sensor made by Sony, like the one seen on Redmi Note 7, might give better images. But, it could also mean increased costs. Other than that, I think the Samsung GW1 struggles to achieve accurate color rendering. If you try to photograph flowers or any other colorful subject, the tone mapping is skewed. In some ways, the results seem inspired by Instagram filters like Lark or XPro II. Google Camera, on the other hand, tries to balance even that with precise exposure and a balanced color profile.
One area where the Google Camera really makes sense is low light. Google literally left companies scrambling to create a better night photography experience when it launched the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL with Night Sight last year. The difference between images in normal and Night Sight mode is that of day and night. The same experience is also available with Google Camera on the Redmi Note 8. When Night Sight is activated, the results are amazing and do not justify the less than 10,000 rupees price of the Redmi Note 8. When Night Sight is activated, the device photo shoots photos at 12 megapixel resolution and the results are bright with little noise. Google Camera also works well for preserving background detail.
This is not the case with the night mode on the stock camera app. With the original camera, you really have to be careful about being stable. Night Sight, on the other hand, takes into account the occasional shaking possible during a hand-held exposure. It also doesn’t increase ISO like the original camera does in night mode. In some of the images you see above, the exposure was set for only 1/5 of a second with ISO 463. In night mode, the stock camera also exposes the images for a shorter amount of time but takes ISO at 9600 levels. Shooting at such a high ISO setting with a small sensor results in a lot of noise. Google Camera Mod, on the other hand, has good color saturation and balances noise very well.
Smartphone cameras are not yet here to take excellent low-light images. However, the progress made in the past year alone is a positive sign. The fact that you can take even better low-light images with smart software makes the whole thing smoother. The problem with the Google Camera mod is that it doesn’t support portrait mode, or it doesn’t let you switch between a wide-angle and an ultra-wide-angle lens. As a result, the mod cannot replace the original camera. But if you are a camera enthusiast and want to get the most out of your investment, then Google Camera mod is an app that you should download on your Xiaomi Redmi Note 8.
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