Moto X Clear Pixel camera: how it works

August 1, 2013
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One of the main differentiating features of the new Motorola Moto X is its Clear Pixel camera. But what is Clear Pixel and how it works?

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Motorola’s new and exciting Moto X  has just been officially unveiled, and now it’s time for everyone with even a remote interest in mobile technology to pore over the spec sheet and the feature list to see what makes the much-hyped Moto X so special.

In this post, we’re taking a look at what many users consider one of the most important components of a smartphone – the camera.

The Moto X comes with a so-called Clear Pixel camera, which appears to be the same shooter equipping Verizon’s Motorola-made new line of Droids.

According to Motorola, the Moto X should take great pictures and video even in low lighting conditions. Snapping shots in less than bright environments has always been problematic for most smartphone cameras, although many manufacturers promised solutions. So, how does the Clear Pixel camera work?

Clear Pixel refers to the special RGBC (red-green-blue-clear) filter of the Moto X’s camera sensor. Conventionally, cameras feature filters made of red, green, and blue specks of pigments, which absorb light differently, and thus allow the sensor to differentiate between colors and light intensity. The problem with this approach is that, when light is weak, not enough light passes through the RGB filter to reach the sensor, and thus blurry, noisy images are born.

With the RGBC technique, filters also feature a clear speck, which lets more light pass through compared to the pigments. More light reaches the sensor, which results in nicer images, even indoors or at dusk.

The size of the pixels of the 10MP Clear Pixel camera is 1.4 micron. For comparison, the Galaxy S4 has 1.1 micron pixels, while the HTC One’s Ultrapixels sensor features 2 micron sensors. In general, the larger the pixel size, the more light reaches the sensor, and the better the shot. But if you make the pixels too large, you can’t fit enough of them on the sensor, which results in decreased resolution. That’s what happened with the HTC One, which has a resolution of just 4MP.

We look forward to seeing the first sample photos taken with the production version of the Moto X, which should tell us if the Clear Pixel camera is as good as Motorola sells it to be.

Moving on to video, Motorola touted the 4XHD video recording mode, which is essentially a way to combine four adjacent pixels into one, for sharper videos with less noise and artifacts. Nokia does something slightly similar with the still shots on the lauded Nokia 1020, but the Finnish company combines seven pixels, and applies a few other techniques. The “drawback” of this technique is the decreased resolution of the final video, but even at 2.5MP (10MP divided by 4), the video should be perfectly fine for most full HD displays.

Users will get to activate the camera with a simple gesture using the Quick Capture feature. Another interesting feature of the Moto X camera is the ability to shoot Full HD video at 60 frames per second and to record slow motion video at 30 frames per second.

 

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