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Google Pixel 7 Pro's Super Res Zoom: What is it, and how to use it?

Its level of detail rivals professional photographic equipment.
By

Published onMarch 15, 2023

The Google Pixel 7 Pro is one of the best camera phones out there. Its dedicated 48MP telephoto camera is capable of 5x optical zoom and gives you an effective 30x zoom level combined with its Super Res Zoom enhancement. When you combine that kind of telephoto power with the Pixel 7 Pro’s low-light photography and Macro Focus features, it becomes obvious why people are praising the new device so highly. Even if you used a DSLR, you would need to haul around a bag full of lenses to take all the different kinds of photographs the Pixel 7 Pro can.

If you’re on the fence and considering buying one, you’d be wondering what the Super Res Zoom feature actually is on the Pixel 7 Pro. Let’s review the basics of the phone’s exciting new zoom capability so you can learn all you can before deciding.

QUICK ANSWER

To use the Pixel 7 Pro's Super Res Zoom feature, turn on the phone's camera and zoom in on a subject past the 5x mark. The feature will kick in automatically.


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What is Super Res Zoom, and how does it work?

Super Res Zoom is an AI-enhanced zoom feature available on Google Pixel phones. It uses the natural shake of your hand to capture a series of images that are slightly offset from each other and then uses its AI to choose the sharpest image and enhance it with information from the other shots. The Pixel 7 Pro uses its 48MP telephoto camera and Tensor G2 chip to capture and enhance the image using Super Res Zoom in order to achieve the equivalent of a 30x zoom.

Previous Pixel phones also had Super Res Zoom, but the Pixel 7 Pro has received an upgrade to the image processing involved. The image quality of telephoto images from the Pixel 7 Pro now rivals that of dedicated cameras. You can see a shot with the phone using only 5x optical zoom and no Super Res Zoom below.

Pixel Pro Zoom 5X Shot
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

How to use Super Res Zoom on the Pixel 7 Pro

There isn’t a switch or any other controls available to turn on Super Res Zoom. It kicks in automatically when you zoom past 5x, the maximum optical zoom the Pixel 7 Pro’s telephoto camera is capable of. From 5x up to the camera’s max of 30x, the lens and the software are creating the image together. While you should always hold a camera steady while shooting, don’t worry too much about your hand shaking a little when using Super Res Zoom — the camera and its software will use that to their advantage. Here’s the same lawn furniture from the same position at 30x Super Res Zoom. Notice the inset window indicating the current level of zoom.

Pixel Pro Zoom 30X Shot
Kevin Convery / Android Authority

Is Super Res Zoom actually good?

Now the next question on your mind is whether Super Res Zoom is actually good and usable. And thankfully, the answer is positive despite the nuances.

There is a significant drop off in quality once you cross the 5x zoom mark. 5x zoom is entirely handled optically, while values above 5x are handled through Super Res Zoom. Does that mean Super Res Zoom is bad? The answer is no, actually.

This is just physics and photography concepts at play here — optical zoom will always get you the best results, and a drop-off in quality is naturally expected once you start digitally zooming in. However, Super Res Zoom salvages the results of digital zoom, and they are better than what they would have been had no AI processing been applied.

Super Res Zoom salvages the results of digital zoom.

As long as you have ample light and a stable subject, Super Res Zoom will deliver photos that remain fun to share on social media, at least up to 10x zoom. There will be a noticeable softness to them, and you can spot signs of smoothening as the AI algorithms work their magic to bring down the noise levels. But the photos themselves shall be good.

Beyond 10x zoom, the results will be progressively worse, and how usable the photo is remains entirely a question of your shooting conditions. Even for shots beyond 5x zoom, your results will be poor if your lighting is sub-par or your subject is in motion. However, these results will still be slightly better than what you could have achieved with a full crop, thanks to the magic of computational photography through Super Res Zoom.


FAQs

No, the standard Pixel 7 has a camera with an 8x maximum zoom.

Yes, the Galaxy S23 Ultra offers optical zoom at 3x and 10x.

No, it cannot. Unlike previous Pixel releases, the Pixel 7 Pro is not equipped with an IR camera or sensor.

No, the Pixel 7 Pro’s selfie camera is a fixed-focus, 10.8MP camera with an f/2.2 aperture lens.

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