Google improves Portrait Mode on Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL

Portrait Mode on the Pixel smartphones, ever since the Pixel 2, allows you to take professional-looking photos by using a mix of machine learning and depth of field magic. It’s able to take some phenomenal photos, but now, Google is improving the tech even further on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL.

Two big improvements have been made with the software upgrade. The first improvement is with leveraging the Pixel 4’s dual cameras and dual-pixel auto-focus system to improve depth estimation. That helps with the quality in Portrait Mode photos taken near and far.

The other improvement was to the system’s bokeh, making the feature more in line with what you would find on an SLR camera.

Aside from the made improvements, Google’s detailed just how its Portrait Mode and Dual Pixel system works behind the scenes:

“The Pixel 2 and 3 used the camera’s dual-pixel auto-focus system to estimate depth. Dual-pixels work by splitting every pixel in half, such that each half pixel sees a different half of the main lens’ aperture. By reading out each of these half-pixel images separately, you get two slightly different views of the scene. While these views come from a single camera with one lens, it is as if they originate from a virtual pair of cameras placed on either side of the main lens’ aperture. “

They also explain how the bokeh effect works, and how they worked to make the feature on the Pixel 4 similar to that of an actual SLR camera unit:

“To reproduce this bokeh effect, we replaced each pixel in the original image with a translucent disk whose size is based on depth. In the past, this blurring process was performed after tone mapping, the process by which raw sensor data is converted to an image viewable on a phone screen. Tone mapping compresses the dynamic range of the data, making shadows brighter relative to highlights.”

All in all, Portrait Mode is an amazing technology that allows you to take some professional-looking photos without having to pay the professionals for a photo session.

source: Google

Brad is a tech enthusiast, writing and tinkering with all things technology since 2011. He currently bounces between the LG G3 and his beloved Moto X! His interests include reading, entrepreneurship, the gym, and of course, queso.

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