Motorola Droid X: The Camera

I don’t buy my phone based on the camera, but there is a lot of truth to the adage that the best camera you have is the one that is with you. The cameras keep getting better and better with each generation of phone. The camera in the Droid X is an 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flashes and the ability to record 720p HD. It is certainly not going to replace my DSLR, but it is quite capable.

The Hardware

I love the fact that the phone comes with a capture button on top (when held sideways). It is the red button in this shot:

As mentioned, the camera is capable of 8 megapixels. You may be surprised that your first batch of pictures are 6mp. This is because the default is to take pictures in a 16:9 format that not only fills the display of the phone, but also a widescreen TV. You can set the phone to 6, 8, 5, 3 or 2 MP.

If you have read any of my reviews in the past, or know a little something about digital photography, you know the mp count is not that great of an indicator of quality. Unfortunately the more pixels you squeeze on a sensor of a given size, the smaller the area to react to light and the worse it performs in low-light.

This performs pretty well, however, and includes dual LEDs to help out. Here are some shots at a restaurant. Click to see the full size:

And this:

Outside in plenty of light, it really shines. Here is an example of the mounted police:

And a shot of a garden:

Camera Features

The camera has quite a few features. You can choose a Scene to optimize for your shooting circumstance including:

  • Auto
  • Portrait
  • Landscape
  • Sport
  • Night Portrait
  • Sunset
  • Macro
  • Steady Shot

You can also choose to apply effects like:

  • Normal
  • Black and White
  • Negative
  • Sepia
  • Solarize
  • Red Tint
  • Green Tint
  • Blue Tint

What is more interesting to me are the Picture Modes. You have:

  • Single shot
  • Panorama assist
  • Self portrait
  • Multi-shot

Panorama assist is a very slick feature. When selected you get to choose the direction of the pan; up, down, left, or right.

After you line up the first part of the shot you hit the camera button once and slowly pan. The camera lets you know where you are in the pan, and when it takes each shot. The panorama can include up to 6 shots (you can press the shutter again to end the capture). Here was a small pan:

Here is a larger one of 5 frames. I wish the day had been a little clearer. You can kind of see some shading at the four borders, but still pretty nice job.

Video

The phone supports HD Video. The quality is quite nice. i took a few samples (some that were in ridiculous conditions, that it did not do well in). This is definitely a good light feature. Here is the Youtube of a short video outside:

When the beach ball comes in frame, the camera did adjust the lighting change a little bit. I was very impressed by the quality of the video. I am not going to get rid of my Webbie or Canon HV20 for it, but still, this is in a phone.

Conclusion

This is not an in-depth analysis of the capabilities of the camera, but I liked it. For a camera in a phone, this is one of the best I have used.

Posted in: Android related, Miscellaneous, Reviews

10 comments… add one

  • Denny Crane July 11, 2010, 9:47 pm

    A weak point in a lot of cameras, be they a camera phone or a full-on DSLR, is white balance. Too far one way, it looks brownish-yellow. Too far the other way, it looks blueish. Looking at the first picture of the pizza, the napkin is blue. Once the balance is corrected and a proper sharpening is added, the pizza just pops out of the shot. The question is, does the Droid have a setting to correct this? If so, a vast improvement can be made. If not- well, most people who use camera phones do not have photo editing software and would have little interest in it. They want the picture perfect the moment they press the shutter. It’s still an impressive camera, but I think people will get turned off by something that’s mind-bogglingly simple to fix.
    Corrected picture linked here:
    i141.photobucket.com/albums/r59/sRdennyCrane/Photography/2010-07-08_19-30-31_976edit.jpg

    1
  • chriszzz July 12, 2010, 2:03 am

    It’s amazing what cellphone cameras can do these days. Though not of the same quality as a dedicated camera, they are definitely good enough for everyday snapshots, and the best part is that you have it with you all the time, at every single social, corporate and family event, party, or gathering.

    Lots of good memories are captured with acceptable quality. The link up with Facebook and online web albums just makes them even more useful.

    And to think that 10 years ago the first cellphone cameras were fuzzy, blocky, noisy 640×480 low-res affairs.

    2
  • Al July 12, 2010, 9:17 am

    The pictures look really nice, I,m always guilty of not taking my camera with me.
    This could save me since my phone is always with me.

    Al

    3
  • Bob Deloyd July 12, 2010, 2:54 pm

    Loved the pictures and the video! The pic of the pizza made me hungry : )
    Can you get this on another carrier other than Verizon?

    4
  • Bryan Sherman July 12, 2010, 4:55 pm

    @Denny

    Yes, I specifically took shots with basic settings and no post-processing. There are no settings for white balance on the camera (I think the Incredible has them, but I’m not 100%).

    I shoot all RAW on my DSLR and edit in Adobe Raw for exposure. I found the shots acceptable for a camera phone, but I would definitely tweak before publishing for use other than showing you what it does w/out tweaking.

    May be an idea for a future post, tweaking the pictures.

    5
  • Bryan Sherman July 12, 2010, 4:58 pm

    @Bob

    The Droid X is Verizon-exclusive. The alternative would be the EVO, which is Sprint-exclusive. Have not tested the camera on that.

    The Samsung Galaxy S is coming on T-Mo, but it has a 5 mp camera. Ironically that *could* make it better. The Galaxy S will not be exclusive and I think there will be a version on at least 3 of the major carriers.

    6
  • Bob Deloyd July 14, 2010, 4:05 pm

    @Bryan
    Verizon doesn’t work very well where I live but Sprint and T-Mobile do. I’ll just have to wait to see what comes out of T-Mobile’s Galaxy S.
    Thanks for the info!

    7
  • Denny Crane July 18, 2010, 2:41 pm

    Well, I got my Droid X and other than than the aforementioned white balance issue, it’s a pretty awesome little camera for a phone. Closeups with the macro setting are the best I’ve seen on anything other than a DSLR. The video is acceptable, but both camera and video will always suffer from such a small lens and short focal length.

    8
  • Ed Marx August 16, 2010, 1:27 am

    I have had my Droid X for about 2 weeks and for the most part very pleased with the phone and its capabilities, the camera is awsome except for the ability to focus and glaring of lights or light areas in the photo. As I press the button half way to let the camera focus, the image comes into focus and then back out of focus…? This must be a simple tweek and I hope is included in the 2.2 upgrade. At 6.0 mp the photos should be awsome, even in a point and shoot.

    9
  • MousePhotography September 17, 2010, 11:44 pm

    Just got my Droid X in the other day. As a photographer myself, i have been quit impressed. I do wish though that i had the option to choose my white balance like the first version of the phone.

    BTW…I don’t know if you have tried any of the camera apps but there is a great one i have had lots of fun with. Its the” FX Camera.” Enjoy!

    10

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