Google Nexus 6 Review: Camera
Author:Soomal
Source:eng.soomal.com

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According to Wikipedia, Google Nexus is a line of consumer electronic devices that run the Android operating system. Google manages the design, development, marketing, and support of these devices, but some development and all manufacturing are carried out by partnering original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). We consider Google should say "I AM YOUR FATHER" to Nexus series, in China, we call these devices as eldest son, second son, etc. This phone is sixth son. Nexus 6 is an ODM product provided by Moto, and the shape style of Nexus 6 inherits Moto X series. But according to our reviews, neither Nexus series or Moto smart phones could perform excellent in camera, how about Nexus 6?

  • Source: Netizen
    Type: Mass produced
    Commercial Relationship: No

Overview

Nexus 6 is equipped with Sony Exmor RS CMOS IMX214, which is familiar to us, and was the most widely used CMOS sensor in 2014, also adopted by mainstream hi-end devices. Progress in miniaturization and pixel characteristics improved SNR and bandwidth, which makes it more compatible for faster lens and faster read out. We have written something introducing IMX214.

Nexus 6 features a 28mm equivalent F2.0 lens, with OIS equipped. We have not found detail information about lens structure. In fact, those lens that are called 5p or 6p structure are just for advertisement. Around the lens is a white circle which is a ring flash light. Behind the transparent covering are 2 LED lights, which design is unfamiliar to us. For camera accessories, a ring flash light is often used for macro shooting. It is the first time that a ring flash light appears on a smart phone, but this ring is just for shaping, no special purpose.

Lens

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/887seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:44:15

The aperture of Nexus 6 is F2.0, which belongs to large aperture lens. Generally speaking, large aperture lens would lose sharpness, especially on the edge. There just a few devices can be compatible with Nexus 6 in overall sharpness, the center sharpness is great, and the corners remain much. But we can also see obvious signs of sharpening, the auto sharping can be lower.

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/5990seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:25:24
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/7373seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 15:05:26

Anti-glare also performs ideal. Strong backlight would lead to radioactive light and light spot, while contrast and sharpness remain much. Side back light may lead to slight blurring and purple flare, but easy to avoid.

In general, optical quality of Nexus 6 is excellent, especially compared with smart phones equipped with a large aperture lens.

Autofocus

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/220seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 15:22:15
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/618seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 15:52:16

Autofocus speed of devices equipped with IMX214 is significantly improved compared with devices equipped with IMX135, while the autofocus speed of Nexus 6 is relatively slower compared to other devices with IMX214. We assume that correction algorithms were added by manufacture to keep accuracy. Most devices with IMX214 would take out-of-focus images at a probability of 5%, while this problem does not exist in Nexus 6. The correction algorithms balanced autofocus speed and accuracy, and improved user experience.

Metering

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/2084seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 13:20:45
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO41;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/4564seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 13:41:12
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO67;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/60seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 17:08:20
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO305;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/15seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 12:45:41
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO338;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/17seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 12:58:33
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO296;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/30seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 13:41:00
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO151;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/40seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:53:20

The default metering mode of Nexus 6 is average metering. This mode tends to be precise because all parts of the scene are taken into account. Bright parts such as sky will not blow out.(Wikipedia) When it comes to the scene with very high contrast, such as museum artifacts lighten by a point source. Spot metering mode would be better. Nexus 6 supports metering on a selected AF point, which is more proper for high contrast scenes. The metering area is relatively small, metering result would be changed much when touching a different part on screen, which makes it difficult for beginners to control but convenient for experienced users. Photos taken in the museum got good exposed. Photos taken by Nexus 6 are easy to be slightly underexposure in both metering modes.

White Balance and Color, Image quality

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/1261seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 14:18:03
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO232;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/50seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 17:22:14
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO184;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/60seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 17:24:11
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO85;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/60seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 16:41:28
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/812seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 14:53:55
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/1597seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 14:25:28
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/1498seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 13:43:13
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/887seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:44:15
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/675seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:32:20
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/2178seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.21 13:36:16
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/1475seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.30 15:19:03
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO542;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/12seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 12:28:56
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO314;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/24seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 12:43:43
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO301;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/17seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 13:00:11
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO40;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Bias Value=0.0EV;Exposure Time=1/323seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 13:14:07
Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=4mm;Focal Length In 35mm Format=0mm;F-number=F2.0;Metering Mode=Manual;ISO Speed=ISO296;White Balance=Auto;Exposure Time=1/24seconds;Exposure Program=Not defined;Scene Capture Type=Standard;DateTime=2015.01.27 13:39:35

The auto white balance is reliable, even under various lighting, the auto white balance is still stable. Unreliable situation occurs seldom, for example, when taking photos of a lot of green leaves, it may sometimes warm and sometimes cold. The auto white balance performs mutual. The color tends to be higher saturation and contrast, which lead to exposure latitude narrowing down, and shadow detail loss. In photos, cool tone is relatively distinct, and the saturation of warm color is slightly lower. Benefited from the progress of IMX214, the high ISO performance meets our expectations, photos can be used for recording at ISO800. As OIS equipped, the lowest auto shutter speed of Nexus 6 is 1/12s, which guarantees a higher success rate when taking photos in low light. To provide better image quality, Nexus 6 made full use of OIS, so the ISO of most our photos is below 800, the highest is just ISO1200. Photos of Nexus 6 are slightly over-sharpening, which makes photos looked a little hard, but still acceptable. Slightly blurring exists on shadow details, but good controlling in devices equipped with MX214.

Camera App

The camera app Google provided in Android was a little weird. The previous Nexus even cannot see the whole picture when taking photos. At this time, the camera app back to normal. The interface and function are really simple, and no manual mode. However, simple is not equal to crude. With great automation, the overall experience is not bad.

Brands=MOTOROLA;Model=NEXUS 6;Focal Length=0mm;Metering Mode=65535;DateTime=2015.01.21 14:56:17;Lens=Manual

Except the normal mode, Nexus 6 provides panorama mode, which eventually can be used in daily life, although not good operation and just so-so image quality, but still much better than that of the previous one. Google also provided a 360 degree spheric panorama option called Photo Sphere and lens blur, but this 2 functions are of no use.

Conclusion

  • Ideal optical quality lens with F2.0 and OIS
    IMX214 Exmor RS CMOS
    Mutual relative high saturation
    Reliable auto white balance
    Easy-using automation camera app

The image quality of Nexus 6 is higher than average devices that equipped with IMX214, does not bring much surprise to us, because most that device had performed well enough. The automation of camera app is great, user can take photos in most scene without manual operation, and the interface is simple but not crude. All this needs lots of trail and algorithm. The camera of Nexus 6 finally gets better than average hi-end devices.

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