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How to use Action Pan and Long Exposure on the Google Pixel

Trick shots are no longer just the domain of professionals.
By
October 20, 2022
Google Pixel 7 close on green wall
Robert Triggs / Android Authority

Motion blur and fast-paced photography used to be the domain of professionals, but the Google Pixel’s Action Pan and Long Exposure modes promise to change that. You may have even seen these modes in your camera app and wondered what they’re for. Here’s your guide on how to use the Google Pixel’s Long Exposure and Action Pan camera modes.

Read more: Pixel 7 vs Pixel 7 Pro camera test

QUICK ANSWER

You can find Action Pan in the camera app under Motion > Action Pan. Find a moving subject and take a photo; your phone will automatically create motion blur.

To use Long Exposure, open the camera app and go to Motion > Long Exposure. Find a moving subject and press the shutter button while remaining still; your phone will automatically create motion blur.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

What is the Action Pan feature, and how does it work?

A photo taken of a subway train using a Google Pixel 6's Action Pan feature. The subway car is clear and sharp while the tunell has a motion blur-like effect added.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Action Pan is Google’s name for a particular type of motion blur. In this case, the photo’s subject, like a car, is sharp and clear, while the background is blurry. This creates a sense of moving along with the car or a photo taken in the heat of action.

A Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 running Android 13 actually creates two photos when you use Action Pan mode. One is a standard photo with no added motion blur, and the second has motion blur, as you can see in the shot above (note that I’ve blurred out the riders’ faces in this photo).

Action Pan is beta software at the time of this article’s writing. As a result, there may be some quirks, or you might capture less-than-ideal photos.

How to use the Action Pan on the Google Pixel

A screenshot of the Android 13 Action Pan feature providing instructions on how to use it.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Now that you know what Action Pan is, here’s how you can take your own Action Pan photos:

  1. Open your Pixel 6’s or Pixel 7’s camera app.
  2. Tap on Motion.
  3. Select Action Pan by tapping on that button.
  4. Hold your phone still and point the camera at the subject. Alternatively, you can follow the subject.
  5. Press the shutter button.
  6. Your Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 will automatically create an Action Pan shot and show it to you after a short time.

It will likely take some practice and experimentation to get satisfactory results when using Action Pan. Try taking a few different shots at various angles to get an idea of how the feature adapts to different environments and lighting conditions. In my experience, the feature works best with one clear subject and a clearly defined background.

What is the Long Exposure mode, and how does it work?

A Long Exposure shot taken with a Google Pixel 6 of a subway car. The subway car itself is blurry and conveys a sense of motion while the tunnel and station platform are clear.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Likewise, Long Exposure is another form of motion blur in this case. Technically, long exposure means leaving a camera’s shutter open for a long time. This allows you to take photos in dark conditions because it lets in more light and causes moving objects to blur in a certain way. But in the case of the Pixel 6 or Pixel 7, Long Exposure is not just for dark conditions. You can also use it to create motion blur for all sorts of moving objects.

Long Exposure causes the moving object to appear blurry while its surroundings remain clear. As you can see in the photo above, this creates an effect that is essentially the opposite of Action Pan. As with Action Pan, your phone will create a non-blurred picture along with the Long Exposure shot as well.

Also, like Action Pan, Long Exposure is beta software at the time of this article’s writing. As a result, it may not yield ideal results, or you could run into quirks.

How to use Long Exposure on the Google Pixel

A screenshot of the Android 13 Long Exposure feature providing instructions on how to use it.
Zak Khan / Android Authority

Using Long Exposure requires a bit more input from you, but it’s still pretty simple:

  1. Open your Pixel 6’s or Pixel 7’s camera app.
  2. Tap on Motion.
  3. Select Long Exposure by tapping on that button.
  4. Hold your phone still and point the camera at the subject.
  5. Press the shutter button.
  6. Your phone will instruct to you to wait and keep holding still until the Long Exposure is complete.

It can take some practice to get a good result, so you should try experimenting with different scenarios and subjects. In my experience, Long Exposure works well with one moving object and stationary surroundings. For example, the effect could be quite attractive at night with a Long Exposure of car headlights taken from an overpass.


Read more: What’s the best camera phone?

FAQs

No, this feature is available on the Pixel 6 and newer models of phones.

No, the Pixel 6a doesn’t have Action Pan and Long Exposure.

No, Night Sight is specifically for low-light photography and video, not motion blur effects.