6 cool camera tricks you can do on the new Pixel 6 phones

Google's latest flagship devices come with some smart photo wizardry.
rear view of the Google Pixel 6 phone
Get more from the camera on your Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. Triyansh Gill / Unsplash

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Google’s brand new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro come with some heavyweight camera features you just won’t find on other smartphones.

Make the most of these tools by knowing what they are and how to use them, so your photos really stand out from the crowd.

1. Action Pan

Use the Action Pan feature if you are shooting a moving object that you want to keep in focus while the rest of the image is blurred. It works well for a car driving down a street, or a snowboarder going down a hill.

[Related: The Google Pixel 6 brings a new chip and lofty, AI-powered promises]

Open the Camera app on your Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro, and swipe along the modes underneath the shutter button—Camera will be the default. Tap Motion, choose Action pan and then tap the shutter button as normal to capture an image. 

Your device will process the picture in the background, and when you go and look at the finished product in Google Photos, you should see the main object of the shot in focus against a blurred background.

2. Long Exposure

Long Exposure is the opposite of Action Pan, as it blurs moving objects in the picture frame while whatever is still remains in focus. This feature can add movement to the spinning ferris wheel at a circus, or a waterfall, for example, yielding some really professional-looking results.

From the Camera app, swipe across the camera modes to find Motion, choose Long exposure and then tap the shutter button as normal. You’ll need to keep your Pixel stable for a few seconds while the camera captures the long exposure.

As with Action Pan, the processing takes place in the background, so head over to the Google Photos app to see the results. 

3. Real Tone

Google says the Real Tone feature will “represent the nuances of different skin tones for all people beautifully and authentically.” This means that the Pixel 6 will automatically process photo enhancements (white balance, color, brightness, and exposure settings) to better suit a subject’s skin tone. This will come especially handy when you have multiple people in the same shot.

This is an automatic feature, so you should notice improved results from the get-go thanks to the Artificial Intelligence-packed Tensor chip inside the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro.

4. Magic Eraser

The Magic Eraser— available exclusively on the latest Pixel phones—works like a quick Photoshop trick and lets you remove objects and people from your shot with just a couple of taps.

For this one, you have to go directly to Google Photos. Tap on the image you want to work with, tap Edit, then choose Tools, and Magic Eraser. You can either tap on a marked area to accept the suggestions the app makes, or draw around an object or person you want to get rid of. You’ll see the results after a few seconds. 

Despite its name, the Magic Eraser works better on some photos than others, as it needs a constant background to work with, like a wall or a sky. But when it works, well, it really does look like magic.

5. Optical and digital zoom

The rear camera on the Pixel 6 doesn’t offer anything in terms of optical zoom, but the Pixel 6 Pro has 4x optical zoom built-in. This is a new high bar for a Pixel phone, and it means you can get four times closer to the action without losing any image quality. To activate it, just tap the 4 above the shutter button while taking a picture.

On top of that, both the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro offer Super Res Zoom. This digital zoom lets you go way beyond the optical zoom capabilities to let you get even closer to your subject and get much sharper, less pixelated images. To do this, Super Res Zoom captures several frames at once and uses that information (plus some smart Google algorithms) to fill in the details, like colors, lines, and shapes, that aren’t there. 

6. Night Sight

You can only find Night Sight, Google’s super-strength camera night mode, on the company’s smartphone range, but you’ll find the best version of it in the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. You can find this feature in the list of modes underneath the shutter button in the Camera app.

When Night Sight is active, Google’s software will work wonders with the darkest parts of your picture, using AI interpolation to enhance the details the phone camera has captured.

[Related: Google’s Night Sight photo mode is great—here’s how to fake it with your smartphone]

There’s also an astrophotography mode for shooting the night sky. Your Pixel will notify you it has enabled this feature automatically when you point your device at the night sky for a few seconds. Google recommends using a tripod and getting as far away from urban lights as possible, as exposure will take several minutes. But when it’s over,  you should be left with a fantastic night sky shot.