I was fortunate enough to be able to test drive a brand new HTC One courtesy of Virgin Mobile Canada. My daily driver smartphone has been a BlackBerry Bold 9790. I have thoroughly enjoyed the camera on the Bold even though other phones feature a technically better camera. As it’s been said, the best camera is the one that you have with you.
Here’s an image captured on the BlackBerry Bold 9790 and edited on the device using PhotoStudio Pro.
For serious photography, I’ve recently upgraded my main camera to a Canon T4i. I won’t be comparing the quality of the HTC One to any DSLR or the BlackBerry for that matter. The purpose of this article is to illustrate what can be done with images taken with the HTC One.
The HTC One is a beast of a device and a stunning piece of industrial design.
One of the features I was most looking forward to using was the camera. Much has been said about it’s “UltraPixels”, sensor size, lens quality and software features. All these things combined result in amazing images “considering it’s a cell phone camera”. Regardless of it being attached to a smartphone, the photos I captured on the HTC One were very good. Period.
One thing that I was surprised and happy to see is some degree of manual control of camera settings. You are able to select ISO settings and white balance. There’s a self timer, and options for single or continuous shooting. 2 of my favourite features are the HDR mode and the Sweep Panoramic mode.
For those unfamiliar with HDR photography, it means “High Dynamic Range”. Normally with automatic exposure settings, the camera decides on the exposure based on a specific point in the photo. Basic cameras and most cell phones use the auto focus point to decide on exposure as well. For images with both a large amount of highlights (bright sky) and areas of dark shadows (trees creating shade), this can result in either blown out highlights or excessively dark shadows.
HDR Photography takes multiple images at different exposures and intelligently combines them into a single image with an equalized exposure.
The HTC One’s HDR setting works very well. The camera takes multiple shots extremely quick so there is little room for camera shake which can ruin an attempt at creating and HDR image. Theres no adjusting the settings of how the camera complies the finished image, but every time I used the feature I was very pleased with the results.
Another exciting feature of the camera is the Sweep Panoramic mode. When in this mode, you press the shutter button to begin taking the image. As you pan across a horizon, the camera takes additional images and begins adding to the first one. The camera is capable of capturing 180 degrees of horizon. When you’re done capturing the pano, press the shutter again and the device automatically stitches it all together for you and saves them as a single image.
The software is extremely quick at rendering the finished image and does a very good job of blending the images together into a seamless composition. At times I’ve seen slight differences in colour and exposure where images overlap, but overall it’s very good.
Keep in mind, this will result in a ridiculously wide image that will appear tiny when printed on an 8×10 or viewed on a computer monitor, even on widescreen displays. About the only reasonable thing to do is have the image enlarged as a custom print. Of course, anvas prints are one of the best options because you wont need a custom frame made for it. More on this later.
The built-in editing features are quite handy. There’s scaling, cropping and straightening which are staples in any editing app. There wasn’t much in the way of manual leveling or colour adjustments, but there is a wide range of creative filters and borders.
Overall, I was very happy with the images taken with the HTC One. Because theres no optical zoom and a limited resolution, there are certainly limits to what type of images this device can capture. But what it lacks in hardware features, it certainly makes up in software. You’ll be creating images that you won’t be able to even with a dedicated camera. If you’re looking for a smartphone and don’t want to be disappointed in the performance of the camera, you can’t go wrong with the HTC One.
Stay tuned for part 2 of the HTC One camera review where I print a panoramic image taken from the cell phone on canvas. It’s going to be big – you’ll want to see this.