Video Mode

The Moto X’s video recording mode is no-nonsense.

The Moto X shoots 1080p 30fps video. There’s no separate video mode in the camera app. Just tapping the camera icon in the top right corner starts recording. This is fast and convenient, and makes sense since the still image preview is already 16:9. However, the camera app fumbles by providing more coverage in the preview than is actually captured in the video. You need to leave a bit of margin for this cropping, which is not ideal.

The video mode is even more bare-bones than the still-capture element of the camera app. There are no user-controllable parameters (if you have focus-point mode enabled for stills, it’s ignored for video). You can start and stop recording, zoom by sliding up or down on the screen, and tap to capture a 2MP still shot. That’s it.

The Moto X does support slow-motion recording, enabled from the slide-out options menu. It captures 720p at 60 frames per second and creates a video file with an embedded frame rate of 15 fps, for 1/4 speed playback. The sub-30 fps playback isn’t as smooth as we’d like, though you could speed it up in a video editor for 1/2 speed playback at 30 fps. In the Gallery app, you have the option of viewing slow motion videos at 1/4 speed or normal speed. Overall, it’s a fun feature, but not as polished as some of the more advanced slow-motion modes offered by the competition.

Video Sample 1: Good Light

In good light the Moto X shoots crisp, smooth video. Focus is confident, with drift and pumping rare. Exposure shifts are noticeably abrupt, which can be distracting. There seems to be some electronic stabilization in effect (that’s probably where the missing edges go), which helps hold the view steady but is no substitute for good OIS. 

The Moto X’s video output is subject to the same inconsistent color issues present we note in the still images, with an occasional magenta tint being the most objectionable. 

Video Sample 2: Low Light

In low light the Moto X’s videos lose some detail, though levels remain acceptable overall when not blurred by movement. The look of the video is marred by strong artifacts and visible chroma noise splotching. Focus is less confident than in good light, but doesn’t drift more than most of the competition.

As light levels decrease, the camera drops the frame rate to as low as 15 fps (this sample was recorded at 22 fps). This enables longer shutter speeds for capturing more light, but there’s a double penalty: movement in the scene blurs more, and the overall motion looks choppier. Also, while the files will play fine on a computer, some televisions refuse to play non-standard frame rate videos.

Video Sample 3: Slow Motion

Due to the Moto X capturing 720p 60fps and then creating a 15fps video file for 1/4 speed playback the slow motion video is not quite as smooth as we've seen on other devices. Nevertheless, it's still a fun feature to play and experiment with.