Features cont.

Night Mode

Night Scene is a new user-activated mode that in low light increases ISO and reduces image size. The former helps avoid blur caused by camera shake or subject motion. The latter aims to reduce the effects of noise and noise reduction and capture images with better edge definition. In very dark scenes the mode is also capable of capturing a brighter exposure than normal by increasing the maximum ISO to 2500.

For the samples below both standard and night mode use the same shutter speed of 1/15 sec but night mode increases the ISO to 2500, resulting in a slightly brighter exposure. 

Standard mode, ISO 1600, 1/15 sec
Night mode, ISO 2500, 1/15 sec
100% crop
100% crop

In brighter situations, such as the scene below, Night mode not only increases the ISO but also shutter speed which can help freeze motion and reduce the risk of camera shake. To capture the sample on the left standard mode picked a 1/30 sec shutter speed which results in slight motion blur on even slow moving subjects.

In Night mode the faster shutter speed mitigates motion blur and the downsized image shows better edge definition. It's also a touch cleaner than the larger image but has less detail. Overall Night Scene is useful for those users who understand the concept of shutter speeds and ISO. It allows you to opt for a faster shutter speed with moving subjects and makes, at least a little bit, up for the lack of manual control over shutter speed.

Standard mode, ISO 80, 1/30 sec
Night mode, ISO 160, 1/60 sec
100% crop
100% crop

Gallery and Image Editor

Standard thumbnail view

The gallery app is an updated version of what we've seen on previous Motorola devices. Images are organized by album (any folder containing photos on the phone) but you can also filter videos and sort by people who appear in the images. For the purpose of the latter you can tag faces and use the automatic tagging function. You tag a few images of the same person to start with and, if the function is activated, the app then does the tagging by itself. In our brief test this worked pretty reliably.

The gallery app offers a good array of options for sorting and viewing your images.

Based on time and location of image and video capture the app also creates so-called Highlights Reels by picking the best images and clips from an event and mixing them up with a soundtrack into a movie. You don't have any manual control over the process but the results are mostly pleasant to look at and a nice way of sharing the impressions of a day out or an event with others. 

In individual image mode you'll occasionally find a star symbol next to an image. This means that at the time of capture the camera has recorded more than one image and a clever algorithm is suggesting that one of the frames captured just before or after you hit the shutter might be better than the one you actually see in the gallery. The algorithm looks at facial expressions of subjects, composition and other criteria. A tap on the symbol lets you see the alternative images and a suggested keeper. Mostly the differences between images are small but occasionally you'll find a better image through this process. In any case alternate images are saved in a special folder on the device, so you can download them to a computer to inspect more closely before making a decision.

Alternate symbol in the bottom left
Alternative options and suggested keeper

In individual image view you can also tap on the edit button to open up a good range of options. There are several filters and frames to choose from and you can crop and straighten your images. Under the exposure button you will find a pretty comprehensive range of tonal and color adjustments, including shadows, highlights, curves, hue and exposure. There is also a function to add vignetting and a pretty nifty digital graduated filter. Edited images are saved as a new file. 

In the filter dialogue swiping across the images gives you a before/after view.
Editing tools generally offer a good degree of control.