Brad’s HTC One reviews: camera

, posted: 5-Jun-2013 11:48

Much has been made of camera in the HTC One, its quality and performance especially in low light or situations with less than optimal lighting.

I need to start this post off however by saying that when it comes to cameras and photography, I know very little beyond the basics. So with the HTC One I really will be reviewing the camera from the point of view of your average person.

I’ve never really taken a great many pictures with my phones as the quality of the cameras really has not made it worthwhile. The pictures I did take rarely turned out to be worth keeping as they were often slightly blurry or grainy or the exposure was all wrong. I was very keen to see what the One could do as it would mean I might just be able to finally use my phone to take some of those spur of the moment shots and happily share them.

The morning I received the One, I had to go down to the Telecom store to pick up a compatible micro SIM. While I was out I thought I would take a couple of quick pics since it was a nice day and see how the One lived up to its hype.

The first is of the Dunedin Railway Station (click for larger image)



This picture was actually taken through the windscreen of my car, I was really very impressed by what I saw. While viewed at fullsize the clarity is not amazing, it does look really good when resized to resolution that would shared via email or social media or even printed.

My next stop was the Mornington lookout which looks right across Dunedin City (click for larger image):



With this shot I was impressed by the colour and clarity especially of objects in the distance. The Forsyth Barr Stadium at middle rear of the photo is 3020m in a straight line (according to DDC GIS information) while the far side of the harbour to the right is further again.

One of the areas that the One really shines in is lowlight images. Often a lot of pictures that you would want to share are indoors with a lot of people and till now phone cameras simply haven’t been up to the task in those situations.

I took the following images from the same lookout as before but a month closer to winter and at 4.30pm when the light was fading fast.

The image on the left was taken in normal mode while the right one was taken using the low light mode (no Photoshop work here). The difference to me really was incredible, the brightness and colours felt as close to natural as they could be.



While I have not included any images of social settings which also turned out great for obvious privacy reasons, I did get another chance recently to show off the ability of the One to take great lowlight photos.

The first is showing part of my backyard in the middle of a snowstorm at 3.30am with only an exterior light and no flash for illumination:



The second photo is of my poor car after somebody backed into the side of it, this time with the flash activated.



Once again I was very impressed by the quality, far exceeding anything I’ve seen from a phone camera before.

While viewed at max resolution the shortcomings of having only a 4MP are evident, I honestly can’t say it is a real issue. From the feel of the rest of the One experience, HTC seem to have designed everything about this phone around having an excellent social media experience.

When shared to Facebook or via other social media services the images from the One look outstanding. The One is not going to win any competitions with a standalone camera but it does exactly what it should; it takes excellent quality pictures on the go that you can share to Facebook and people will say “Wow”. They are also high enough quality to make excellent HD wallpapers.

Something which has come up in discussions about the camera is how well it compares to the Samsung Galaxy S4. There is one area in which the S4 comes out ahead and that is simply by having a much higher pixel count (13mp vs 4mp). When zooming in on images, everything is a bit sharper. But in places that don’t have even lighting or in low light the HTC One comes out way ahead, with everything sharper and clearer and far more natural colours. HTC Zoe

One feature I will single out is HTC Zoe. It has been reviewed to death by other sites but I would like to mention it briefly.

When Zoe mode is enabled the camera is constantly recording and when a photo is captured it is saved into essentially a three second video clip made up of about twenty individual images.

You can then playback as a video clip and select the frame you want use you. I found this to be a great feature when taking group photos. So often you get a great shot ruined by having a single person move just at the wrong moment.

Zoe will highlight parts of your selected frame that have changed compared with other frames and allow to remove them. That person who turned their head or closed their eyes at the last second will have their head replaced with one from a different frame.

Zoe also includes features like sequence shot which allows you to combine the selected frames from the Zoe image to make an action composite, this is very similar to the S4’s Drama Shot.

I am very impressed by what HTC have done with the One’s camera. It isn’t perfect, its low pixel count is a slight drawback in some situations. But overall it far exceeds anything I have seen in photo capabilities in a phone before. It gets some stiff competition from the Galaxy S4 but from my use of both I have to say the One comes out on top as the best all-round camera.

For the first time I feel I can go places without the need to take a separate camera with me. The One is more than able to do a great job of capturing all the pictures I will ever take without me worrying that I won’t be happy with the result.

About the author

My name is Brad and I’ve been a member of the Geekzone community for nearly nine years including three as a moderator. I was a long time Windows Mobile (yes Windows Mobile, not Windows Phone) user before deciding to try out Android a couple of years ago. I quickly fell in love with the openness and freedom that Android provides and have built and customised my own ROMs from source. I am a web developer, gamer and all round gadget junkie. I hope that my TelecomTech posts will be informative for potential HTC One owners.


Other related posts:
Technofreak’s HTC One: final thoughts
Brad’s root guide for the HTC One
Technofreak’s HTC One: music, weather, browsers






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Telecom New Zealand
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Telecom Tech is a different type of blog. We're sponsored by Telecom New Zealand, but most of the posts here are from every day users like you.

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