BlackBerry's back: Z10 camera review
10 Conclusion and Gallery
Conclusion - The Good
- Captures good detail in all light situations
- Well-designed, responsive camera app
- Very sharp, bright screen
- Accurate autofocus
- Comprehensive editing options
- Decent ergonomics
- Interesting Time-Shift and Story maker features
Conclusion - The Bad
- Noise banding in some light situations
- Low maximum ISO can cause underexposure
- Lacks integration of HDR, panorama, or face recognition
- No exposure compensation (but exposure linked to focus point)
- No manual ISO or White Balance
- No filter or effect options in camera app
- No optical image stabilization
- Poor imaging app selection
- Very few customization options
- Occasional lock-up of the camera app
The Z10 is BlackBerry’s first shot in what it hopes will be a glorious comeback campaign. The phone looks and feels the part. Its solid build quality translates into a phone with decent photographic ergonomics, though a two-stage shutter button would seal the deal. The sharp, bright screen remains visible in bright sun and looks very good when composing or reviewing photos.
The Z10’s camera performance is a mixed bag. A responsive and well-designed native camera app manages to feel more like a camera and less like an app than a lot of the competition, despite the fact that the autofocus isn’t particularly snappy. Image quality is quite good, with decent fine detail, in good light thanks to the Z10’s relaxed approach to noise reduction. However, when the lights go down, so does image quality, albeit in an uneven way. At its best, the Z10 turns in a high ISO performance that includes a lot of noise with a tight, filmic grain that certainly obscures detail but can be less offensive than the aggressively smeary noise reduction of some competitors. But at its worst, images can be marred by banding noise that’s visible at screen resolutions and can emerge at relatively low ISOs in shadow areas of the frame.
The Z10 has a few tricks up its sleeve: a decent burst mode, the handy Time Shift, the flexible editor in the gallery app, and the Story Maker montage app. But it’s missing some important features that are becoming standard: no panorama, HDR, or face recognition out of the box, for example. For Android and iOS phones, there are hordes of third-party solutions that could take up the slack. But BlackBerry 10 is a brand new operating system, and despite the company’s efforts to lure developers, photo-centric apps (both for capture and processing) are thin on the ground. It’s not clear that that’ll change anytime soon, especially with Windows Phone trying to establish itself as the fresh platform to challenge iOS and Android in the imaging area.
The Z10’s camera is perfectly capable of pulling its weight on this new flagship device, and is unlikely to disappoint the BlackBerry faithful. But if photographic quality and flexibility are priorities and you’re not particularly invested in the BlackBerry platform, it’s hard to justify buying the Z10 over a number of iOS or Android handsets with similar or better imaging performance and a much richer photographic ecosystems.
The Final Word
The BlackBerry Z10 is a solid phone with a photographic experience that’s impressive in some respects and flawed in others. Mobile photographers committed to the BlackBerry platform will find its camera satisfying, but for others the Z10’s photographic foibles and sparse imaging app ecosystem don’t really add up.
DXOMark Image Quality Assessment
The Blackberry Z10 achieves a DxO Mark score of 67 which means it is very slightly ahead of the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920 but trailing behind the iPhones 4s and 5 and the Samsung devices Galaxy S3 and Note II in DxO's list of the best smartphone cameras.
Image results show good detail in all light conditions, with good color in natural light. Auto exposure, autofocus and white balance work generally well. In low light the BlackBerry output suffers from strong luminance noise and color casts in tungsten lighting. White balance is struggling when using the flash.
In video mode, the Z10's autofocus performs well but the footage shows "visible color non-uniformities" and "perfectible texture reproduction". DxO also found the video image stabilization to be inefficient. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.
Category: Mobile Phone
Camera and Photo Features
Ergonomics and Handling
Still Image Quality
Speed and Responsiveness
The BlackBerry Z10 imaging engine chooses detail over noise reduction, which serves it well in bright light and dimmer conditions alike but banding artifacts can also crash the party. The camera UI design is a model others should follow, though it could offer a bit more manual control. A lack of features (no HDR, panorama, or face detection) is aggravated by a thin app ecosystem with few alternatives to the native offerings. Committed BlackBerry users can overlook the Z10’s imaging limitations, but OS-agnostic mobile photographers are likely better served by the best handsets on other platforms.
There are 23 images in our Blackberry Z10 samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.
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