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Change this Pixel 7 Pro setting for far better video quality instantly

Your Pixel 7 Pro already has one of the best phone cameras on the market. But did you know you can improve the quality of videos considerably with a built-in feature?
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 7 Pro
June Wan/ZDNET

For a brief period, I considered moving away from the Pixel line of phones. But every time I think about buying something like the Nothing Phone 2, I remember how incredible the Pixel 7 Pro camera is. It takes amazing photos and videos, right out of the box. Even someone without much experience in photography can take stunning photos. The same holds true for the video side of the camera. But with the help of a single option, you can up the quality of your videos considerably. 

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This is made possible, thanks to the availability of 10-bit color. Now, with the Pixel 7 Pro, you can only achieve 10-bit color on the video side of things (as the camera side is locked down at 8-bit color).

What is 10-bit color?

Bit depth refers to the number of unique colors a camera can render. Most phone cameras (and many DSLR cameras) can only render 8-bit color, which means that for every primary color (red, green, and blue) in the spectrum, the camera can only render 256 shades of each. The end result is 16.7 million shades of color.

Also: Google Pixel phones have a secret button. Here's how to find it (and use it)

With 10-bit color, the camera is capable of capturing 1024 shades per primary color, so 1024 shades of red, 1024 shades of blue, and 1024 shades of green. The end result is 1.07 billion shades of color.

16.7 million vs 1.07 billion is a big difference and the results are crisper, cleaner videos with a far more natural-looking color spectrum.

What about the camera?

Oddly enough, Google left out 10-bit color for the Pixel 7 Pro camera. Equally strange is that some Android phones get 10-bit color for the camera but not video. One such phone is the OnePlus 10T. On that device, you can enable 10-bit color for pictures but not for video. And with the Pixel line, only the 7 Pro gets the treatment.

Also: Change this one Android setting to instantly make your phone feel twice as fast

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that videos with 10-bit color are going to be considerably larger in file size than 10-bit. Because of that, I would recommend you use 8-bit as the default and switch to 10-bit when shooting something special. I've switched to 10-bit color for certain videos and the results are pretty impressive. 10-bit videos have more depth and clarity, and look far richer than 8-bit. In other words, this is an option you're going to want to enable.

Speaking of which…

How to enable 10-bit color for videos on the Pixel 7 Pro

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need for this is a Pixel 7 Pro phone. You'll want to make sure it's up to date as well. 

1. Open the camera app

The first thing to do is log into your Pixel 7 Pro and open the camera app.

2. Switch to video mode

When the camera app opens, it will be in camera mode. Tap Video at the bottom to switch.

The bottom portion of the Android camera app.

Sadly, you cannot enable 10-bit video for photos on the Pixel 7 Pro.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Enable 10-bit color

Tap the drop-down in the upper left corner and, in the resulting popup, tap HDR in the 10-bit HDR entry to enable 10-bit color. Once you've done that, tap outside of the settings popup to dismiss it. 

The Android video settings popup.

You can also switch frame rates in the same popup.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

You can now start filming videos with vastly improved color shade rendering. Just remember, these files will be larger than those filmed with 8-bit color. Because of that, you'll either want to switch back and forth (using 10-bit color for special videos) or delete older videos to make room on your device.

Either way, you'll be impressed with the results you get using 10-bit color in videos on your Pixel 7 Pro.

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