DxOMark Mobile Report: Lenovo Moto G Plus

Summary

The Moto G Plus is the newest arrival in the Moto G series of mid-range smartphones. With a 1/2.4-inch Omnivsion OV16860 16MP sensor with a large pixel size of 1.34um, F2.0 aperture, on-sensor phase detection and laser-assisted AF the camera specification would look right at home on a high-end device. You can read our first impressions review of the Moto G Plus here.

In its DxOMark test the Moto G Plus scores 84 points, which puts it on the same level as current flagship phones, such as the Apple iPhone 6s Plus, Google Nexus 6P or Motorola/Lenovo's own Droid Turbo 2/Moto X Force. When shooting still images the testers liked the "very good detail preservation" in bright light, the "fast and accurate autofocus" and "good noise reduction in outdoor conditions". They also noted the colors, which are "vivid and pleasant" in daylight and the good white balance in low and artificial light. On the downside, outdoor images show "some loss of detail in the shadow areas", a "slightly bluish cast is sometimes visible in outdoor scenes" and "some irregularities in HDR activation and white balance are visible". Some outdoor images also showed a "cyan shift close to sky saturation".

In video mode the DxOMark team liked the "good stabilization both in bright light and indoor conditions, good color rendering and white balance, fast autofocus convergence and good noise reduction in outdoor conditions". However, they also found that "from macro to infinity, some steps during the autofocus convergence are visible" and saw "occasional autofocus inaccuracies in low light". "In low light some detail is lost and luminance noise is visible" and there are "visible steps in exposure adaptation".

Still Photography

Color, Exposure and Contrast

The DxOMark team found the Lenovo Moto G Plus images to show "vivid and pleasant color", with good white balance and without any color shading. Target exposure is generally good. However, in difficult light situations highlights are occasionally clipped, "some irregularities in HDR activation are visible" and a "slightly bluish cast" sometimes appears in daylight images. In low light "very slight color shading is visible."

Overall DxOMark awarded the Lenovo Moto G Plus scores of:

  • 4.4 out of 5 for Exposure
  • 4.5 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
  • 3.9 out of 5 for Color shading in low light*
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color shading in bright light*
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light

*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners.

Noise and Details

DxOMark's engineers reported that the Lenovo Moto G Plus images show "very good detail and good noise reduction in outdoor conditions". However, there is also "some luminance noise and some loss of detail in low light".

Texture Acutance

Texture acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (such as fine foliage, hair or fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.

Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it's easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.

An image can be defined as 'sharp' if edges are sharp and if fine details are visible. In-camera processing means that it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out to reduce noise.

Texture acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.

A dead leaf pattern is designed to measure texture acutance. It's obtained by drawing random shapes that occlude each other in the plane, like dead leaves falling from a tree. The statistics of this model follow the distribution statistics in natural images.

In this example from a DSLR without edge enhancement, sharpness seems equal on edge and on texture. Many details are visible in the texture.

In this second example, edges have been digitally enhanced, and the edge looks over sharp, with visible processing halos ('ringing'). On the texture part, many details have disappeared.

At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the texture acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.

Note: Acutance is a single value metric calculated from a MTF result. Acutance is used to assess the sharpness of an image as viewed by the human visual system, and is dependent on the viewing conditions (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). Only the values of texture acutance are given here. The measurements are expressed as a percentage of the theoretical maximum for the chosen viewing condition. The higher the score, the more details can be seen in an image. 
 
For all DxOMark Mobile data presented on connect.dpreview.com we're only showing 8MP equivalent values, which gives us a level playing field for comparison between smartphone cameras with different megapixel values by normalizing all to 8MP (suitable for fairly large prints). DxOMark also offers this data for lower resolution use-cases (web and onscreen). For more information on DxOMark's testing methodology and acutance measurements please visit the website at www.dxomark.com.
 Texture acutance is a touch higher under daylight than tungsten light. 
In bright light the Moto G Plus is up with the best but drops off a little at lower light levels.

Edge Acutance

Edge acutance is a measure of edge sharpness in images captured by the phone's camera. Again we're only looking at the most demanding of the three viewing conditions that DxOMark reports on - the 8MP equivalent.
 In terms of edge acutance the Moto G Plus is performing on flagship level. 
 Edge acutance is very consistent across all light levels. 

Visual Noise

Visual noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as the weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.

 The Moto G Plus noise levels compare well to the competition at all light levels
 Measured noise levels only increase moderately in lower light.

Noise and Detail Perceptual scoring

DxOMark engineers don't just point camera phones at charts, they also take and analyze plenty of real-world shots and score them accordingly. Their findings for the Lenovo Moto G Plus are:

Natural scene

  • Texture (bright light): 4.8 out of 5
  • Texture (low light): 3.7 out of 5
  • Noise (bright light): 4.1 out of 5
  • Noise (low light) 3.9 out of 5
 Bright light sample shot
 100% crop: good noise reduction  100% crop: good detail preservation
 Low light (20 Lux) studio shot
100% crop: some luminance noise in areas of plain color 100% crop: some very fine detail is being lost

Artifacts

Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can have an impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyze a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the Lenovo Moto G Plus are shown below:

  • Cyan shift close to sky saturation visible in outdoor shots
  • Some color fringing noticeable in backlit scenes
  • Moiré is occasionally visible

Perceptual Scores

  • Sharpness 4.5 out of 5
  • Color fringing 3.6 out of 5

Measured findings

  • Ringing center 7.6%
  • Ringing corner 4.9%
  • Max geometric distortion -0.4%
  • Luminance shading 9.4%

Distortion and Chromatic Aberrations

The graph shows the magnification from center to edge (with the center normalized to 1). The Lenovo Moto G Plus shows a very slight pincushion distortion, which you are not going to notice in normal photography.
 Chromatic aberrations are well under control.

Autofocus

DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the acutance - or sharpness - varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependent on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Using the 8MP equivalent setting, the Lenovo Moto G Plus performs very well in all light conditions. The overall score is 95/100 in bright light and 87/100 in low light.

Pros: 

  • Accurate and repeatable autofocus in all conditions

Cons:

  • Strong instabilities and overshoots in preview mode, particularly in low light
  • Slow convergence, particularly in low light
Autofocus repeatability - average acutance difference with best focus: low light 3.26%, bright light 1.63%

Flash

The Lenovo Moto G Plus offers a dual-LED flash for illumination in very low light. DxOMark scored the camera a 77/100 overall for its flash performance. 

Pros: 

  • Good exposure and vivid colors
  • Pleasant colors when flash is mixed with tungsten light

Cons:

  • Some focus and exposure irregularities
  • Noticeable hue non-uniformity in the field
  • Noise and attenuation visible in the corners

Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Photo: 84 / 100


Video Capture

DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly grueling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. Overall, DxOMark found the Lenovo Moto G Plus video mode to perform very well, with fast autofocus, good stabilization and good color. On the downside, some stepping can be visible when the AF is adjusting and luminance noise is visible in low light footage.

Pros: 

  • Good stabilization
  • Good color rendering and white balance
  • Fast autofocus convergence
  • Good noise reduction in outdoor conditions

Cons: 

  • Some steps are visible during autofocus convergence in bright light
  • Occasional autofocus inaccuracies in low light
  • In low light some detail is lost and luminance noise is visible
  • Visible steps in exposure adaptation

Overall DxOMark Mobile Score for Video: 81 / 100

DXOMark Mobile Score
84

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 84 the Lenovo Moto G Plus performs on the same level as flagship models, such as the Apple iPhone 6s Plus, Google Nexus 6P or Motorola's own Moto X Force / Droid Turbo 2, in the DxOMark smartphone rankings The test team liked the good detail in bright light, good color, low noise levels and reliable AF in bright light. However, they also found some loss of detail in the shadows and an occasional slightly cool color cast.  

In video mode the Moto G Plus has efficient stabilization, good color and very decent noise reduction in bright light. However, testers also found some AF inaccuracies and luminance noise in low light. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.

Photo Mobile Score 85   Video Mobile Score 81
Exposure and Contrast 84   Exposure and Contrast 84
Color 85   Color 81
Autofocus 91   Autofocus 75
Texture 85   Texture 83
Noise 86   Noise 85
Photo Artifacts 85   Video Artifacts 80
Flash 77   Stabilization 81