08 January 2021
Google's Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G smartphones offer the same level of camera performance that we have started to expect from the lineup. In fact, these two even have an ultra-wide-angle secondary sensor that offers more flexibility to the users. But going forward, this new sensor cannot be used for clicking night sky shots.
As reported by 9to5Google, Google has disabled Astrophotography mode support for the wide-angle sensor on the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. The feature was killed with the recently released Google Camera 8.1 app update. The app now requires to use at least 1x zoom if they wish to use the Astrophotography mode. This particular condition has also been added to the official support page where Google says, "On Pixel 4a (5G) and Pixel 5, astrophotography only works on zoom settings equal to or greater than 1x."
There is no official statement on why the feature has been disabled like that. It is speculated that it has been done due to the poor image quality offered by the wide-angle sensor. There have been a few posts on the official forums talking about the night sky shot quality discrepancy between the primary and secondary sensors.
If you are someone who is interested in clicking wide-angle shots of the night sky, there is only one way you will be able to do so. You will have to uninstall all Google Camera updates that you have installed so far. This will reset the app to the stock version i.e. version 7.6 that Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 ran out of the box.