Pixel XL Low Light 4K Video Test

Everyone is in agreement that the Google Pixel and Pixel XL have fantastic cameras. They are on par, if not better, than it’s competitors, the iPhone 7, Galaxy S7 and Note 7. With that being said, I thought it would be nice to test the camera in the harshest conditions, low-light.

Today I decided to take a trip over to the boardwalk to catch the sunrise. This allowed me to test the video camera’s capabilities in a low-light, dynamic-color setting. With the sun about to rise, light is limited, and as the sunrises their are high contrasts between shadows and highlights. These conditions are not only difficult to capture on a cell phone camera, but with any DSLR or mirrorless camera as well. As the sun increased its angle against the horizon, making it’s way into the sky, it becomes brighter. This allowed me to capture a wide variety of lighting conditions over a short period, one hour.

When watching the video, you will notice there is some noise in the dark areas. This is where the camera really struggles. We all know this is going to happen, but to what extent is the question. In my opinion, the camera performs very well given the situation. It struggles to capture drastically different lighting in the same frame, but does so quite well. As the scenery get brighter the camera work better. Noise is reduced, while the shots get ‘crispier’. The sun breached the horizon around 7:24am. By around 8:00am we were taking stunning video.

Let me know what you think of the Low Light 4K Camera Test in the comments or tweet me at @CarsandTechJDM

Filming Parameters

I used the stock Camera app for this test. I tapped and held the screen to lock focus, and adjusted exposure using the EV meter. This prevents the awkward shift in exposure when filming a high contrast video. Video was set to 4K with stabilization on.

Equipment used

Most of the video was filmed on a tripod with a cell phone holder, fluid head and a cheap slider.

RetiCam XL Phone Holder:

23-inch generic slider:

Vanguard tripod:

Fluid head:

This is a pretty standard setup for the most basic of shots. However, I did go handheld for some clips. Those are about ¾ of the way through the video. Shots that are handheld are labeled.


Footage was imported into FCPX. The clips were placed, trimmed, and letterboxed. Two clips were rotated by 1-degree and 2-degree respectively, and cropped by up to 4% because of the rotation. The Cars and Tech by JDM City logo was placed in the beginning, followed by three titles. An audio track consisting of background music has been added. The sounds you hear from the clips are unchanged. No audio levels were adjusted. The audio you hear is the original audio from the clips. To make smooth audio transitions, the audio clips were overlapped and faded in/out. There has been no color correction/grading, no software stabilization and no noise reduction.

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