The Motorola One Action forces you to shoot horizontal video with its ultra-wide “Action” camera

Aug 19, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

The Motorola One Action forces you to shoot horizontal video with its ultra-wide “Action” camera

Aug 19, 2019

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Motorola has had just about enough of vertical video. So, for the new Motorola One Action, they’ve rotated the wide-angle camera to make it shoot horizontal video when holding your phone vertically.

It’s a neat approach and one that many users have been asking after for years. After all, it just feels more natural to hold our phones vertically – which is what caused the problem of vertical video in the first place. Now, Motorola is taking a gamble on this feature to help bring them back into the big leagues.

It’s no secret that Motorola doesn’t quite command the power and respect it once did. After bringing the world some of its earliest smartphones, it took a bit of a back seat once Blackberry, Microsoft, Google and Apple entered the fray. Blackberry is still struggling, and Microsoft has basically abandoned phones altogether, but Motorola is still doing moderately well, currently holding an 8.3% market share for Q2 2019.

But, as a company, Motorola needs to innovate again. And that seems to be their hope with the new Motorola One Action smartphone. As the name suggests, it’s designed as an alternative to an action camera, featuring an ultra-wide 117° field of view to help ensure that your subject is always in the frame.

But more significantly than that, holding the camera vertically doesn’t shoot vertical video. It shoots horizontal video. It is an interesting concept, although I do wonder how the general public will adopt it.

The Motorola One Action actually contains three cameras. At least, three on the back. There’s the 16-megapixel 178° ultra-wide, a more modest 12-megapixel 78° main camera, and the third is a 5-megapixel depth camera to assist with computational photography effects like fake bokeh. For the front, there’s a standard 12-megapixel, vertically-oriented selfie camera.

Here’s the rub, though. That 16-megapixel action camera, designed for shooting horizontal while holding the phone vertically… Yeah, the footage it shoots in this mode is only 4-megapixels. It uses what Motorola calls “Quad Pixel” (pixel binning) to combine every four pixels into a single new pixel. Then, when you crop to the 16:9 aspect ratio, 4-megapixels. 1080p HD is around 2-megapixels, and 4K is around 8. So, I wouldn’t expect massive detail with this.

But, despite the low resolution, it’s a start. Although, when you look at the size of that horizontal image on the vertical display, I’m not sure I’d want to look at that tiny scaled-down version of my shot while filming something. I still think it’s an interesting idea, although, I prefer Tony Stark’s LG’s implementation.

Other than this unique oddity, the Motorola Action One is a pretty standard mid-range (I’m being generous) phone. It’s got a 6.3″ FHD+ (1080×2520) display, a 2.2Ghz Samsung Exynos 9609 8-core processor, 128GB of storage, 4GB RAM and a 3,500mAh battery.

Oh, and it has a headphone jack.

The Motorola Action One is available today in Brazil, Mexico and a few countries in Europe for €259 and Motorola says it will become available in Latin America, Asia Pacific and more EU countries next month, with the US and Canada coming in October. You can find out more on the Motorola website.

[Motorola via 9to5Google]

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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5 responses to “The Motorola One Action forces you to shoot horizontal video with its ultra-wide “Action” camera”

  1. Daniel Strickland Avatar
    Daniel Strickland

    Finally! Done away with vertical video!

    1. Marc Stokes Avatar
      Marc Stokes

      I’m in 2 minds about it, people filming things to be viewed on regular tv or laptops etc, for youtube or whatever need to stop with vertical video. but the vast majority of video content is being viewed on phone screens and in apps that are portrait in orientation. it makes no sense to restrict it for that,
      Besides, anyone making content for youtube that films in portrait is unlikely to be creating anything worth watching anyway.

    2. Marco Peixoto Avatar
      Marco Peixoto

      Marc Stokes anyone can turn a phone to watch horizontal videos… if they are to primitive to get that… then it’s not our fault.

    3. Jyi Offer Avatar
      Jyi Offer

      I don’t care either way, so long as it hasn’t got bars with text on the edges and cropped square. No matter which way you turn your phone the video is tiny

  2. Freelance cameraman China/HK Avatar
    Freelance cameraman China/HK

    I have been ask to produce vertical video cause the audience is not able to rotate the phone when playing them.
    This camera will not solve this issue.