Motorola has taken a new route this year by axing the dedicated ultra-wide Action Cam from the G8 Plus and replacing it with one that can take stills. The new camera is an 8MP f/2.2 camera with a 1/4.0" sensor and 1.12µm pixels. This sensor is a frequent sighting in this price range, though. Keep in mind that the camera app forces the resolution on the ultra-wide camera to be the same as on the main one. So if you are shooting at 16MP with the main camera, which is what you'd normally want, the ultra-wide shots will come out upscaled to 16MP. Changing the resolution of the main camera down to 8MP will result in native 8MP shots with in ultra-wide mode.
The main camera has had an upgrade, now using the 64MP sensor with 0.8µm pixels and measuring 1/1.73" in size. The sensor is coupled with an f/1.8 lens.
The other two shooters on the back are 2MP each - one is supposedly used for depth information while the other is dedicated for macro stills and has f/2.2 aperture with AF too.
On the front, we have a 16MP unit with f/2.0 aperture - a downgrade in resolution compared to the 25MP snapper on the previous iteration of the phone And since the camera uses a quad-bayer filter, the actual photos come out in 4MP resolution.
Motorola's default camera app is quite different from most of its rivals. Swiping left and right cycles through only three modes - the default photo mode, video recording, and the last used special mode. Tapping on the squares icon lets you access the full list of camera modes, including manual, portrait, and night.
The familiar settings icon in the upper-right corner of the viewfinder lets you adjust video resolution, aspect ratio settings, etc.
When it comes to daylight performance, the Moto G9 Plus offers slightly above-average image quality, with sharpness and detail standing out the most. There are some sharpening halos around the buildings' edges and some fine detail, but only if you look close enough.
From afar, the pictures look solid and ready for social media posting. What we mean by that is that the sharpening isn't over the top. In fact, it's just the right amount.
Additionally, colors are punchy, and the dynamic range doesn't disappoint. Small details don't get lost in the shadows, and clipped highlights are hard to find.
To be honest, we weren't expecting much from the 8MP ultra-wide shooter, but we were expecting decent good light performance at the very least. However, the images coming out of the ultra-wide camera are soft, muddy, with no detail whatsoever. Colors look anemic, and the sharpening halos stand out more without doing much in return too.
On a more positive note, the HDR seems to be doing a pretty good job of balancing out the highlights and shadows. The lens correction is doing a fine job, too, and we didn't notice any color fringing or extreme edge softness. Issues that usually plague low-end ultra-wides.
We were pleasantly surprised by the autofocus capability of the macro camera. It makes it so much easier to lock onto a subject and estimate if it focuses just from the viewfinder. And if there's sufficient light, you will be able to capture some cool macro stills but don't expect too much from the 2MP sensor - it's not great in resolving intricate detail or in reproducing colors.
The low-light shots aren't particularly impressive, but they seem to be mostly on par with what the competition has to offer. You can say that there's a bit too much noise in some spots, but the detail is still there and isn't crushed by the noise reduction algorithm. Colors are natural-looking, with a tendency to lean towards a warmer appearance.
The dynamic range isn't amazing by any means, but we were surprised by the amount of detail in the shadows, whereas highlights can sometimes be clipped, mostly around strong street lights, for example. That doesn't happen too often, though. Speaking of lamps, light sources are generally well-contained, suggesting there's some HDR working behind the scenes.
Switching on the dedicated night mode called Night Vision will only give you positives. Photos with the night mode are considerably sharper, extract a lot more detail from the shadows, fixes the clipped highlights, and make light sources look better in general. Interestingly enough, unlike most night modes, this one doesn't make the whole photo look brighter. It just balances out the highlights and shadows.
Moreover, the algorithm eliminates most of the noise without crushing the details along the way. And since it doesn't take too much time for the Night Vision to stack all the images, you might be better off using it instead of the standard Photo mode. In almost all situations, the dedicated night mode will produce better low-light pictures.
Sadly, there's nothing much to say about the ultra-wide cam. The daylight performance wasn't satisfactory, so the low-light performance is expectedly worse. There's no night mode to at least fix some of the issues too. Photos come out muddy, detail-less, with narrow dynamic range and with washed-out colors. Not as noisy as we expected it to be, though.
Once you are done with the real-life photos, take the time for some pixel-peeping using our photo compare tool.
The Moto G9 Plus offers portraits with convincing bokeh-like effect, and scenes with sufficient light will come out sharp and detailed. Tends to capture the right skin tone unless you are shooting indoors in a poorly-lit environment. Then the software tends to go for a little lighter tone. Also, sharpness begins to suffer a lot, and noise starts to creep in.
The 16MP front-facing camera is doing a fine job considering its position in the segment. Selfies are generally sharp and relatively detailed. The exposure metering is competent enough to keep the subject's face well-exposed even in more challenging conditions.
Switching to portrait mode will disable the HDR burning the bright background as a result. Portrait selfies are generally softer, too, while edge detection is rough around the edges.
The handset can record 2160p videos at up to 30fps, which are stabilized as well. Unfortunately, though, we were expecting sharper 4K footage. Dynamic range isn't wide either - notice how the bright buildings and cars look clipped. Livelier colors would have been greatly appreciated, too, along with a bit more contrast.
At least the 4K stabilization is doing mostly a good job. It may get a bit shaky at times, although it's always better to keep it on.
Here's a non-stabilized 4K footage to see the difference for yourself.
To see how the Moto G9 Plus fares against some of its competitors, take a look at our video compare tool.