As mentioned in my previous post (even if it was a little hurried), the good folk at HTC Singapore loaned me their flagship HTC One to field test on a short jaunt through Western Japan and I've decided to pen down my thoughts on the camera aspect of the phone.
Comparisons are definitely going to be made with the current benchmark of mobile photography devices, the iPhone, and I have to say that having used both, that the HTC holds its own against the competition handily.
A quick rundown on the One's camera for those of you not familiar with it. Instead of running the megapixel race against other camera manufacturers like Apple and Samsung, HTC decided to gamble on better picture quality instead of size and invented the "UltraPixel" a 4 megapixel sensor that features larger individual pixels for better low light sensitivity. While the smaller sensor does result in less detail, I doubt this is a problem for a large number of users who shoot and post on social media.
Image quality is decent for printing out 5R to 6R sized pictures which works for people wanting to print pictures to keep in a photo album.
Auto focus on the HTC One is pretty zippy 90% of the time, but it can slow down when hunting for a focal point in low light (which happens to almost every other camera so it's not a real issue). There is also a quirky blur to some of the pictures, especially when taking the picture immediately after tapping on a focal point. I've found that by waiting a second or so between focusing and clicking the shutter, the image tends to sharpen considerably.
Before I continue, let me state that all the pictures here were tweaked a little with Snapseed, to increase / decrease contrast and brightness as well as bringing up the mid-tones in some of the pictures.
However, before the hue and cry about "manipulated" images is raised, it is important to note that tweaking an image can only go as far as the quality of the original image file allows, and the fact that you can pull up detail in the mid-tones speaks wonders for the original image file.
I have to say that the quality of the low light images exceeded my expectations by quite a bit. Phone manufacturers are always going to trumpet how well their phone cameras perform, but in this case, the pictures speak for themselves.
One must always manage expectations when it comes to sample images, and remember the limitations of the image capturing device. You will not (at this point in time at least) get the clarity and lack of noise of a high end DSLR file from a phone camera, but it is safe to say that the gap between high end handphone cameras and consumer point and shoot cameras is rapidly closing.
There are several sites that go into the technical aspects of how the sensor performs compared to other phone cameras. Unfortunately, I don't do controlled technical tests in studios or the like. What I DO do, is I take the camera out for a real world spin, and see how the pictures come out.
For someone used to going out shooting with normal sized cameras, it's a refreshing change to whip out a phone to take a photo, and still remain unobtrusive.
Below are more samples of the camera in daily use. The curse of any photographer is the choices one has to make when bringing multiple cameras on a trip. I did away with this confusion after the first couple of days, and decided to keep it simple and do almost all of my shooting on the HTC One..
I still maintain that it's not the camera you use that matters. That a good photographer knows how to work within the limits of his/her equipment and still produce good images.
But it IS nice to have a camera that gives you a little leeway to play around with and the HTC One is definitely a fun little camera phone to tote around.