PSA: Google Pixel 7 & 7 Pro camera refuses to take photos in certain scenarios involving zoom with flash (workarounds inside)
The camera section has been one of the main key points in the Google Pixel smartphones since its birth. The company combines capable sensors with powerful image processing to achieve great results.
The Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are the latest members in the family. Both are very attractive devices, although they have not been free of some bugs and issues (1, 2, 3).
Now, multiple Google Pixel 7 and 7 Pro users are reporting an issue where the camera app refuses to take or save photos in certain scenarios involving zoom with flash.
Pixel 7 & 7 Pro camera not taking photos combining zoom and flash in low light
The Google Pixel 7 Pro boasts a powerful periscope sensor capable of offering 5X optical zoom. In addition, ‘Super Res Zoom’ technology allows you to capture sharp images with up to 30X zoom.
Although the standard Pixel 7 does not have a periscope lens, it is also capable of zooming (up to 8X), but in a traditional way (by cropping and processing the image).
That said, it seems that both models have a strange bug where they do not capture photos under certain conditions.
More specifically, when Pixel 7 or 7 Pro users try to take a photo using zoom and flash at the same time, the photo will not be saved. The bug in question only seems to occur when there is not enough light.
Pixel 7 not saving photos in specific case
I use 2x zoom as kind of a macro mode. I tried to take a picture of a bug on my porch tonight with the flash turned on, and it wouldn’t save. This has happened to me before in similar circumstances
Pixel 7 Pro Camera does not save images
Google Camera does not save images (x2 zoom with flash enabled) on Pixel 7 Pro
– Steps to reproduce:
Set flash on
Set zoom x2
Take a picture
The following video shows the effect of the bug more clearly.
Based on the logs generated, one Redditor suspects that the cause of the bug may be the HDR processing method of the Pixel 7 series camera.
The camera device may not be recognizing some elements that it requires to recognize before taking the picture.
Another suggested possibility is that the set time for HDR data capture is too short, causing the camera algorithm to not have enough time to identify the focused elements.
This would explain why the issue occurs when there is low light. Some lines in a logcat captured by another user also suggest problems during HDR processing:
03-09 15:18:41.019 8379 8544 E CAM_A : HDR+ pipeline reported error for shotId 24:
03-09 15:18:41.019 8379 31737 E libgcam : [shot.cc:2620]: FatalError: Shot was in invalid state (likely due to an earlier error).
03-09 15:18:41.022 8379 31737 E CAM_A : Error ending the HDR+ payload, aborting shot 24
Issue escalated in January, but no updates since
It’s worth pointing out that a user reported the issue on the official Pixel bug tracker in December (2022). However, as the report comes from a user and not a developer, it was marked as duplicated.
A Googler told the individual to post the issue on the Google Support forums. Later in January 2023, a Google Product Expert confirmed that it was escalated.
Since then, there have been no new developments about the bug, and it is still present.
A couple of potential workarounds
In the meantime, there are a couple of potential workarounds that could help you skip the problem once it occurs.
First, after the phone refused to take a pic, a user started a video recording, then deleted the file. After that, the user was able to take the photo with zoom and flash.
How I fixed it: Started video recording by holding shutter button. Removed file. Now I can take pictures.
Another user was able to take the photo with combined zoom and flash in low light by switching to ‘Portrait mode’.
Also, after taking the photo in ‘Portrait mode’, the user was able to do it in ‘normal mode’ just by returning to it.
Ok, here’s something wierd. After going portrait and back to regular camera, it saved.
We will update this story as new related developments emerge in the future.
NOTE: You can also check the Google Pixel 7 series bugs/issues tracker.
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