** This is NOT a review device. I paid for it and receive no compensation. These are my honest and unbiased opinions.**
I love the TV show “House Hunters”…but I have a pet peeve with some of the prospective buyers. There’s always one person who complains the homes they’re looking at, aren’t anything like their old home. Of course not…different layouts, designs, colors, etc., that’s how it’s supposed to work. HTC Camera is different from Nokia Camera…and that’s a good thing because that’s how it supposed to work.
When talking about photos and editing I think we enter into an area that is more subjective than anything. I’m going to try approaching this as pragmatic and non-opinionated as possible. If I get up on a soapbox, I beg your pardon in advance.
I’m going to spend the first half of this article addressing the One (M8)’s camera as opposed to a Lumia with PureView technology including a list of differences like I did in part 1 which you can read here. After that, I’ll move onto the strengths and weaknesses of taking photos and editing them on the HTC One (M8) for Windows. You can find individual photos that I’ve taken using my HTC as well as galleries throughout.
HTC One (M8) for Windows Camera vs. Nokia Camera
A user’s needs dictates the necessity of features…what works for me doesn’t mean that it’ll work for you. I don’t use the front facing camera, but that doesn’t make it any less important or necessity to someone else for example.
Let’s face it, aside from the Darren Sproat’s of the world – who can take a photo of a dog crapping and somehow manage to produce an award worthy shot – most of us would suffice just fine with a normal camera.
So with that thought in mind, I would say “Yes”, for most folks, the HTC One (M8) for Windows would be a fantastic camera…for most folks. That said, the One(M8) does have some areas where a PureView Lumia device may be more practical and better suited to your shooting needs.
I consider there to be 2 major fundamental differences between the One (M8) and a PureView Lumia device in terms of taking a picture and editing it. Don’t get me wrong, there are some other differences. However, most of these small nuances are solved in one place.
As I mentioned in part 1 of this review, we continue to see WP developers working hard as well as seeing a large influx of developers from other platforms working to port their apps to the Windows ecosystem. There are now a plethora of feature rich and high powered photo editing apps to choose from in the WP Store which mitigates the need to be bound to one OEM to enjoy the fruits of Windows Phone. More often than not, most of the differences between the One (M8) and a PureView Lumia in terms of camera and photo editing, fall into the “Have you tried using(insert app name here)?”. This leads me to the two real and noticeable differences.
Therefore I consider the first major difference between the two, the zoom factor, both pre and post shot. More fine tuning can be done pre-shot using Nokia Cam than with HTC Camera, but as I talked about above, there are camera apps in the WP Store I could use for the One (M8) that mimic most of the fine tuning capabilities. What is truly only available via the Nokia Cam and PureView technology its dynamic lossless zoom pre and post shot, is a major feature not available on the One (M8). It’s not that the One (M8) can’t zoom while taking a picture, it can. It’s the depth at which you can zoom when using a Lumia that is different. HTC Camera does have a ‘macro’ shot mode but I struggled getting it to focus. Alternatively, using ‘anti-shake’ mode allowed me to zoom in more effectively for a macro shot on the One (M8).
The other key difference between a PureView Lumia and the One (M8) is the OIS(Optical Image Stabilization) found in the PureView devices as opposed to HTC’s method, ‘Smart Stabilization’. While not as effective as the conventional OIS, Smart Stabilization allows HTC to show off some cool features not found on other smartphone cameras like adding a post-shot 3D effect to a photo. Both technologies work, the question is more along the lines of what works for you? It took me some time to really understand how to best utilize the PureView technology on my Lumia and I feel confident with the same amount of effort the One (M8) will be cranking out great shot after great shot…I already see its potential and upsides.
I know some of you will say what about pixel vs. Ultra Pixel, doesn’t that count as a big difference? Yes and no. For the ultimate shutterbug or a professional being paid for your shots, because of the RAW file available with a PureView, I’d say yes. Even in that case though, I’d say it’s really about the Lumia 1020 being a goliath in both sensor and MP’s, only the Lumia 1020 though…it’s just that awesome. For the person just looking to snap some great shots on their phone though…no, the pixel vs. Ultra Pixel argument is of little concern.
The truth is, had HTC not come out and said we’re adding yet another digital photography formatting euphemism, it’s hard to imagine people would have even noticed and said something along the lines of, “Geez, there’s something so different about how this One (M8) takes pictures.” or “These pictures look so different, did HTC change their technology?”.
It’s a gorgeous device that can take gorgeous pictures…don’t think otherwise. In short, the technology powering HTC Camera is as solid as Lumia.
I believe and stand by my statement, I think it is necessary to be said and repeated to help the Windows Phone OS gain mind and market share. It’s a big step in the right direction to be able to say, “yes, the Lumia takes outstanding photos and so does this other Windows Phone from HTC…”. It’s not a knock on the Lumia device, it’s about paying homage to our Windows Phone platform that deserves attention and is now seeing more ways to get it.
Again, my intention is to show you what you get on one device vs. the other, not which one is better…that’s up to you to decide. I think people are scared they’ll lose too many Lumia tools making the jump to a One (M8), so here’s a list of the photo editing tools where it exclusive in regards to each OEM when using HTC Cam app or Nokia Camera app:
- – Lumia allows post-photo zoom with Nokia Camera; One (M8) does not
- – One (M8) has ‘Continuous Shoot’ mode, just press and hold shutter button; Lumia does not
- – Lumia has shutter speed control built-in to Nokia Camera; One (M8) does not
- – One (M8) saves your last settings when app is closed; Lumia does not
- – Lumia has crop built-in to Nokia Camera; One (M8) does not
- – One (M8) can make panoramas from within HTC Camera; Lumia requires additional app
- – Nokia Creative Studio allows you to adjust post-photo color settings; HTC Photo Editor does not
- – HTC Photo Editor utilizes blur(works fantastic) and 3D effect within a photo natively; Lumia does not
- – Lumia has Lumia Storyteller to make video moments from your photo roll but you can’t add tracks from your music library. Photos are grouped but can deselected and new groups created
- – One (M8) has Video Highlights(Zoe) to make video moments from your photo roll like Storyteller. Conversely, you can add tracks from your music library. Photos are grouped also but cannot be combined like Storyteller
- So that wraps up this section…next I’ll be looking deeper into the strengths and weaknesses of the One (M8).
The HTC One (M8) camera
I’m choosing not to do a head-to-head comparison with photos because there are just too many variables to have a fair comparison. Using controlled lighting in my opinion, defeats the purpose of the test. I want folks to see how the camera behaves in the wild…just like if you were using it. I think those articles often try and guide you to what they think is the best and I think it’s more important for you to decide what is best without my bias.
With that said, I won’t spend anymore time on comparison. I want to talk about the One (M8)’s Duo Camera and then I’ll share my thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of photos and editing using the HTC One (M8) for Windows…again via bullet points.
Duo Camera technology is HTC’s proprietary software where they use 2 different camera lenses in the rear of the phone to mimic stereoscopic vision capabilities of the human eye. Two independent lenses allow it to detect and calculate the relative distance of subjects in the image. The dual lens and sensor configuration coupled to a ‘next-gen’ ISP and CPU allow the imaging system to assign properties to each individual pixel, which allows them to be re-purposed and reprocessed to maximize image quality, adding further functionality within a picture.
In layman’s term: take 2 lenses, let each shoot at different depths, and you can make your pictures truly unique. You can really make your photos come alive, change the perspective of where you’re shooting from or just add some crazy texture to your picture, best exampled by a Dimension Plus(3D) effect I used below. The top image is the original and the bottom is using the effect.
Gallery: HTC Camera App
This is the HTC Camera app, you can see the many features and functions loaded into a HTC One (M8) for Windows:
Gallery: HTC Photo Edit App
This is a look at HTC’s Photo Edit app which allows you to edit your photos by adding effects:
HTC One (M8) for Windows Camera: A Closer Look
- • HTC Camera UI completely differs from Nokia Cam UI, I’m glad to see they didn’t copy Nokia Cam like Lenovo (see #1 below though)
- • ‘Continuous Shooting’ mode really helps to mitigate the need for a dedicated camera button which in essence allows the One (M8) to be considered a legitimate camera centric smartphone (see #2 below)
- • Camera loads incredibly fast
- • Accurate color rendering
- • The camera CAN AND DOES capture stunning images
- • ‘Panorama’ mode is very easy to use and intuitive
- • Plenty of shooting modes, bizarre filters, backgrounds, and settings for most people
- • Cool 3D tool called Dimension Plus, blur, and a few funky hip foreground effects available to pictures shot in auto mode
- • Does good job of feeling like it’s built to take advantage of the popular trends in social photo sharing
- • Has ‘anti-shake’ mode which really helps with macro shots
- • Gesturing left or right switches between front and back cameras
- • HTC Camera is more stable than Nokia Camera
- • Shoots outstanding photos when device is in landscape orientation
- • Image processing is very fast
- • Enormous 5MP front facing camera
- • Pre-photo color editing is a plus
- • Incredible video capturing and ability to take a photo while recording…well…that’s just such a cool feature
- • Camera UI completely differs from Nokia Camera UI and while I’m glad they didn’t copy Nokia, it feels cramped…maybe messy is a better description (see #1 above though)
- • While the Android One (M8) can launch camera when picked up in landscape and pressing volume button, neither device has a dedicated camera button, this is solely helped by ‘Continuous Shooting’ mode (see #2 above)
- • Zoom implementation is a bit clumsy
- • Zoom can be grainy
- • Doesn’t combine shooting modes
- • ‘Macro’ mode is not very good, instead try anti-shake mode(see above)
- • Lacks post-editing zoom
- • No shutter speed control
- • Rear lens can be blocked by finger when shooting in landscape orientation
Gallery: Photos Using The HTC The One (M8) for Windows
These are some photos I’ve taken since getting the One (M8) for Windows. They’re in no particular order. They were all shot using just the default settings. Some have a blur effect added to them using the HTC Photo Edit app. If these photos seem like they are of a good quality, then I think the HTC One (M8) and you will get along splendidly!
At the end of the day, I feel like a have a flagship quality camera on my HTC One (M8) for Windows. Similar to how I felt about Nokia Camera initially, there’s room for improvement – in fact that can still be said for Nokia Camera – I hope HTC continues to update their firmware bringing additional improvements. In the mean time, I’m going to keep snapping shots and learning to master the HTC Camera, I can’t get enough of those blur effect shots!
So that wraps up the camera segment. I’m sure I missed or overlooked something, please feel free to let me know if I did in the comments. If you have any questions please feel free to leave those in the comment section too. Part 3, the final installment of this HTC One (M8) for Windows review, will be my opinions and thoughts about this slick little device and what it means for Windows Phone.