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Moto G 3rd-gen camera review: a sharp shooter

|August 4 2015 |Android Phones, Motorola, Reviews, Dual-SIM, 4G, 4G LTE

“The Moto G 3rd-gen is no wimp when it comes to photography skills”

If you ask us, one of the most compelling features the third iteration of the Moto G (unboxing | first impressions) has in its favour is its waterproof design. The addition of this one feature alone should make you add it to your shortlist in case you’re out in the market for an affordable 4G-capable daily driver. That said, Motorola has also upped the ante when it comes to shooting prowess, and that’s exactly the area where we’ll be focussing on with this article.

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The Moto G 2nd-gen (review) came with an 8-megapixel primary camera which wasn’t too bad in terms of capabilities, but the latest model rocks a 13-megapixel shooter complete with a dual-LED true-tone flash. Even the front snapper has been bumped up to 5MP from 2MP. Just an increase in resolution can’t really be an indication of the real-life capabilities though, which is why it’s important to take a closer look… and we’ll be doing just that here.

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As far as the camera app is concerned, it’s not too different from earlier… featuring the same minimalistic interface, tap-to-shoot capabilities and a slide-out menu that pops out from the left. To make things convenient, Motorola has added Quick capture for the camera – a feature that was missing on the predecessor, but we’ve seen it in action before on the earlier Moto X models as well as on the budget Moto E 2nd-gen (review). Basically, it allows you launch the camera straight from standby using a quick double twist of the wrist… with the phone in your hand obviously. A repeat of the same action switches from the rear camera to the front, in case you need a quick selfie fix.

The menu that appears when you slide inwards from the left carries the modes and the settings – and from here, you can enable modes like HDR, panorama, or night, set video modes or aspect ratio for stills, and control the flash. There’s also an option to switch on focus and exposure control, which displays a reticule on the screen along with an option to tweak exposure by running your finger on a dial around the same. Let’s see how it fares when it comes to shooting.

Long shot

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Shot in auto, this image proves that the Moto G 3rd-gen’s primary camera is very capable… especially when it comes to shooting in ample light. The image is evenly focussed and retains the details on objects in the distance even when zoomed in.

Close up

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A couple of black carpenter ants cavorting atop the bark of a tree form the perfect subjects for this close-up shot. Notice the details on the tree, and how clear the two tiny insects look. There’s also a nice depth-of-field effect on the background.

Close up (zoomed)

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Zooming in on the same image shows even more details, both on the tree as well as the ants. We dare say this image could be useful to those interested in the anatomy of carpenter ants, as everything from the body to the legs is clearly visible.

HDR off

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Here’s another image shot in auto, and as you can make out, the colours look vibrant, it’s evenly focussed and the shot looks worthy of use as a desktop wallpaper. However, our main objective of shooting this is to figure out what happens when we switch on HDR… so let’s check that out in the next image.

HDR on

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Switching on the HDR mode changes the scene drastically, with significant improvements all across. The image looks livelier, with the darker areas highlighted in a much better way. Though the image without HDR looks more natural, we think that the Moto G 3rd-gen’s HDR mode is quite capable and should come in handy for getting lovely shots like this one here.

Front shot

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Here’s the front 5MP camera of the Moto G 3rd-gen in action, and we think it holds a lot of promise. While smartphones that offer higher resolution front cameras and front-facing LEDs for illumination should be better if selfies are of prime importance, this device should also be able to serve up a decent selfie or two as long as there’s ample light.

Night shot

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Here’s an image shot using the Moto G 3rd-gen at night, and though it appears slightly soft and grainy, it should be able to suffice the needs of casual photogs. It’s not that we haven’t seen better, but the device’s shooting capabilities at night look decent enough.

Low light

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Using a colourful Russian doll as our subject, we shot this image in very dim light indoors. While the image has turned out to be grainy and soft again, we think it’s better than most we’ve seen in similar conditions… since we’re able to make out what the object is and even distinguish the colours.

Low light (with flash)

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Shooting the same subject with the true-tone flash switched on, the results look much better and evenly illuminated. Despite the fact that the Russian doll sports a glossy paintjob, it looks like the true-tone flash does a great job of keeping reflections to a minimum. The image doesn’t look unnatural or washed out… as is the case with most images shot using smartphones with the flash on.

Overall, we’re happy with the results from the Moto G 3rd-gen’s cameras, and it looks like we can count this as one of its strong points. So far, everything points towards the smartphone being a worthy all-rounder, but we’d urge you to keep an eye out for our full review which should separate the wheat from the chaff. 



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