The Google Pixel 6 can record video up to 4K60 with its main camera, or 4K30 with the ultrawide. You can also do up to 4K60 at the 2x zoom level, but don't expect greatness. The h.265 was enabled by default on our review unit, but you can flip the toggle off to the more common (and less efficient) h.264.
The main camera's 4K30 (48Mbps bit rate in h.264) footage is very good. Exposure is accurate, dynamic range is superb, colors are lively, perhaps a pinch overboard. Sharpness and detail are on par with competitors from Apple and Samsung, all of them a notch below the Mi 11 Ultra.
At 2x zoom, 4K is on the soft side, though you could call the footage acceptable if you're viewing it on a smaller screen or from further away. But then why bother shooting in 4K in the first place.
The ultrawide's 4K capture maintains the positive impression, delivering a great match in colors and dynamic range to the main camera. The video is sharp and detailed, too, albeit marginally less crisp than what we got from the iPhone 13 Pro and the Galaxy S21.
In low light, the main camera does a respectable job, better than what the iPhone can do in similar conditions, and captures very good detail in areas of at least decent lighting. Shadows can be murky, though, and the dynamic range isn't very wide.
4K at the 2x zoom level is too soft to pass for 4K. We'd say it rivals decent 1080p footage shot in these circumstances.
The ultrawide isn't happy staying after dark and protests by capturing soft and noisy clips.
The Pixel 6 has a global video stabilization toggle in settings and a more granular stabilization mode selector right in the viewfinder. The default is 'Standard'; it's tailored for light movement, and you can use that at all three zoom levels.
In this mode, the main camera produced very stable clips with a well ironed-out walking-induced shake, smooth pans and virtually still recording when just pointing the phone somewhere. It's the same story on the ultrawide.
'Cinematic Pan' can record in both 4K and 1080p, only on the main camera. It captures at 60fps but encodes the video at 30fps for a half-speed light slow-motion effect.
There's also an 'Active' mode, for heavy movement, which uses the ultrawide camera only and still offers 1x and 2x zoom levels. You don't get to choose the resolution or frame rate here, it's 1030p at 30fps. The video quality drops significantly as a combined result of the lower resolution and the crop, but for 'heavy movement' where the action is more important than the quality, it'll probably be good enough. Again, the video is eerily steady when you're just holding the phone pointed in one direction.
There's actually a dedicated mode for that, sort of. It's called 'Locked,' and it's designed for shooting distant subjects without moving the phone. It offers 2x and 5x zoom levels and a choice of 1080p or 4K and 30fps and 60fps.
Since the Pixel 6 only really has a 1x actual camera, the 5x setting is perhaps a remnant of the Pixel 6 Pro's camera app that someone didn't think to remove from the non-Pro's code - the result is properly bad.
At 2x, however, while not spectacularly sharp, the footage is decent in terms of quality and pretty great when it comes to stability. You can hear the wind we were battling while recording this, and the phone kept things remarkably steady, about as steady as in the video further up the page that was shot on a tripod with no software stabilization.
'Standard' mode works at 2x as well, of course. It's about as good as 'Locked', but not quite. Or the marketing got to us, and Locked just sounds better than Standard.
Here's a glimpse of how the Google Pixel 6 compares to rivals in our Video compare tool. Head over there for the complete picture.