Compared to some of its Android rivals the new Moto X comes with a very concise imaging feature set. You do get the essentials with panorama and HDR modes, and a plethora of special mode apps is available in the Google Play Store. The device also comes with a 120 fps 1080p slow-motion video mode that we have covered on the video page of this review.

HDR Mode

The new Moto X's HDR mode efficiently recovers some highlight detail but has a much bigger impact on the shadows, which in some scenes are lifted quite dramatically. How well this works depends on the actual scene that is being captured. The mode does a good job in the scene below, revealing some shadow detail in the underexposed foreground, but sometimes can also lead to a slightly unnatural look, like in the second sample below.

As we’ve seen on other HDR modes, at a 100% view the HDR output tends to look just a tiny bit softer than the standard mode images but it's hardly noticeable and should not stop anyone from using HDR mode.

HDR off
100% crop
HDR on
100% crop

HDR mode deals well with moving subjects. Very occasionally some minor ghosting is visible on small moving objects in the frame but the effect is hardly noticeable at screen viewing sizes and not much of a problem. As you can see, in the sample below the strong lifting of the shadow areas has lead to a slightly unnatural look to the image.

HDR on
100% crop: minor ghosting on a moving subject

Panorama mode

The new Moto X panorama mode is not quite up to par with the best in class. The capture angle is limited to approximately 180 degrees and most images are only around 3300 pixels wide, which is a lot smaller than the panoramas created by the Samsung Galaxy S4/S5 or the latest iPhones which can be more than 20,000 pixels wide. As a result the level of detail in the Moto X panorama images is relatively low, without the immersive feel you get from some competitors.

On the plus side stitching quality is decent, with usually only very minor stitching errors on objects that are located close to the camera. In areas of plain color fine "stitching lines" can be visible but you have to look very closely to notice.

Panorama, 3152 x 936 pixels
100% crop

Panorama mode does not deal well with moving subjects in the scene. Artifacts will be more severe the quicker a subject moves in relation to the camera. In the sample below you can see that there is some heavy ghosting on the two persons walking past close to the camera. Moving subjects in the distance are dealt with much better.

Panorama, 3096 x 920 pixels
100% crop: ghosting on moving subjects