BlackBerry's back: Z10 camera review
The Z10’s camera app emphasizes point-and-shoot simplicity over control. While its approach to basic picture taking is impressively polished, it lacks some useful features that are becoming standard on the dominant platforms. A high dynamic range (HDR) mode, very useful for scenes with bright highlights and deep shadows, and a panorama function are conspicuously absent.
With Blackberry 10 being a relatively new operating system there is also not the same degree of choice as in the Android or iOS app stores. With 360 Panorama we found a third party panorama app in the Blackberry World app store, but at this point no HDR apps or camera apps with built-in HDR mode appear to be available. In its standard shooting mode the default camera app also lacks face recognition, increasing the odds of poor exposure and missed focus when taking pictures of people. This is an odd omission considering the Time Shift feature described below is capable of detecting faces in images.
The Z10’s headline photographic trick is Time Shift, a clever mode that takes a high-speed burst of ten images starting the second before you pressed the shutter. When shooting hard-to-catch action you can then scroll through the frames and pick the best one to save.
But the function really comes into its own when taking a group picture. The phone identifies subjects’ faces and you can separately select the best version of each individual’s head from the ten frames, building a photo that seamlessly merges images taken instants apart. Ideally, you end up with a single frame in which no one is blinking or talking. The only problem with the implementation as it stands is that you have to make your frame picks or face selections immediately after you snap the picture. It would be nice if the whole multi-frame capture could be saved for later “processing.”
Similar features have recently become available on various new devices. Time Shift is functionally a hybrid of Samsung’s Best Face feature for Android and Microsoft’s BLINK app for Windows phones. The new HTC One's Zoe movies also include a similar function. We suspect this type of feature will grow to be standard on phones in the near future.
Shooting and Scene Modes
The default shooting mode is “Normal,” and it provides a satisfying point-and-shoot experience. In the menu you can choose from two further modes. The “Stabilized” mode simply is an electronic image stabilization function. It pushes up the ISO in low light in order to increase shutter speeds and decrease the risk of camera shake. The drawback is of course an increase in image noise but given the Z10's lack of manual control over ISO this mode offers at least some control over shutter speeds in low light.
The Burst mode shoots approximately 5 full-resolution frames per second over the course of 150 frames. Unfortunately you have no control over shutter speeds and in its Auto mode the Z10 attempts to stick with low sensitivities, resulting in blurred motion and camera shake in anything but the best light.
That said, you can combine the Burst shooting mode with the Action scene mode and by doing so achieve faster shutter speeds. The Action mode prioritizes action-stopping higher shutter speeds to avoid motion blur, increasing ISO as needed.
Other scene modes include the Night mode which does the exact opposite and allows the shutter speed to drop to 1/9th sec, prioritizing low ISOs. The Whiteboard mode, in a nod to BlackBerry’s business roots, helps avoid the underexposure that normally results when a whiteboard fools an auto exposure system (the Beach or Snow mode addresses the same effect in the great outdoors).
These scene modes are in essence the same as what we've seen on almost every digital camera since the early 2000s. What is slightly unusual on the Blackberry Z10 is the ability to combine shooting and scene modes. You have virtually no control over exposure on the Blackberry but choosing the Action or Night scene modes at least allows you to get faster or slower shutter speeds.
The Z10 offers a 5x digital zoom, which simply crops the image and then upsamples it back to 8 megapixels. The results are predictably underwhelming as you can see in the samples below. Zoom is controlled via the familiar pinch-gesture but, given the loss in image quality, should really only be used if you cannot get any closer to the subject.
Post Capture Editing (Gallery App)
Tapping the last photo you’ve taken in the camera app takes you to a basic gallery in which you can only flick by one image at a time. Opening the Pictures app separately, you have a lot more flexibility in finding a given photo, with the ability to scroll quickly through screenfulls of thumbnails or jump to the most recently taken or viewed shots. It all works well with one exception: creating and populating albums is a byzantine process that involves using the File Manager app. It’s a small but stunning user interface fail.
Tapping the pencil icon while viewing a picture opens an unusually full-featured editor. You can crop and rotate, and tweak brightness, contrast, white balance, saturation, sharpness, and noise reduction.
The auto-enhance one-touch fix option does a satisfactory job in modifying contrast and brightness if you don’t want to fiddle. This is a lot of power for a built-in editor; the fly in the ointment is that you can’t zoom in on images, which are already squeezed between three tool bars. That means that while useful for really basic adjustments, you’re flying blind with more delicate operations.
The editor also has two sets of effects, grouped under “Artistic” and “Styles” sections. Lomo, sepia, antique, black and white, negative and a few others are deemed Artistic. The Styles include sixties, grain, filmstrip, and half-tone. But why is “Cartoon” a Style while “Sketch” is Artistic? These filters aren't anything you wouldn't have seen somewhere else before but given the lack of third party editing and filter apps in the Blackberry World store these effects might get more use than they would on other platforms.
If the editor detects a face in the frame, it also offers two portrait-specific Style options, though you’re probably better off ignoring them. Smooth Face sandblasts all detail from skin tones, leaving people looking like mannequins. It also enlarges their eyes just enough to be disturbing. The Big Eyes style, on the other hand, gives people enormous googly eyes like something hauled up from a deep ocean trench. You wouldn’t use it on anyone you liked.
The gallery app offers social media integration, making it easy to share images on Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger, email, and Foursquare.
BlackBerry’s included Story Maker app is a simple way to create montage videos from stills and videos captured with the Z10.
Select a few photos and videos, pick a sound track (there’s an innocuous selection preloaded, or you can use your own music) and a theme, and presto, the app spits out a 720p video with Ken Burns-style panning and zooming on stills and a variety of transitions. You can reorder items and change the duration they’re displayed, but Story Maker is really about keeping the process dead simple. Aesthetically, the results are surprisingly satisfying. Technically, it would be nice to have 1080p output for viewing on big screens.
|Girl Reader-8112 by vbuhay|
from A good book..
|Rower by gary0319|
from -Man Power- (Portrait in Full Colours Only)
As if it needed one, the triple-camera smartphone might really be the final nail in the compact camera's coffin. DPR contributor Lars Rehm brought the LG V40 on a hiking trip recently and found it to be a huge leap forward in terms of creative freedom.
Renowned UK-based landscape photographer Nigel Danson has been using DSLRs for years. In this video, created exclusively for DPReview, Nigel discusses his experience using the Nikon Z7 and why he's excited about mirrorless cameras. (Spoiler... beautiful scenery ahead.)
Tenba has unveiled a collection of products to help keep lenses, cables, batteries and more safe and organized when traveling and shooting.
Tune in this week to see Chris and Jordan's review of the Nikon Z6 full frame mirrorless camera, and also find out what Chris thinks of the popular 35mm focal length. (Rant alert!)
There are plenty of ways to spend well over $250 on photography gear, but we've picked out some standout accessories that are sure to wow the photographer on your shopping list.
Facebook has disclosed a major photo API bug that left the private images of millions of users exposed to third-party apps from September 13, 2018 to September 25, 2018.
Loupedeck has added support for Adobe Photoshop CC 2019 to Loupedeck+, its newest keyboard-style editing module.
YouTuber Casey Cavanaugh has produced a handy video guide for those looking for buy their first film camera.
If you're looking for a photography gift that's a bit more substantial than a stocking stuffer, we've got some suggestions that should fit the bill.
Chinese optical manufacturer Kipon has added the Nikon Z and Canon R mounts to its range of adapters made to attach medium format lenses from Hasselblad, Mamiya, Pentax and others to full frame cameras.
Palette Gear has announced an update to its modular, physical editing interface that lets MacOS users now use their palette with Capture One 11 and 12.
German company OPC Optics announced that it has acquired the trademark rights to Meyer Optik Görlitz at the insolvency procedure of NetSE in Koblenz.
Shopping for a photographer? We've got some gift ideas for all budget sizes, but here you'll find our budget-friendliest suggestions – just right for stockings.
It's not always easy to find marble, wood or concrete surfaces on demand. Enter Replica Surfaces, small tiles designed to replicate popular photo surfaces and backdrops.
Lensrentals Founder Roger Cicala set aside some time to take apart Canon's new 50mm F1.2L RF lens and in doing so revealed a number of interesting discoveries.
Google is cracking down on unsupported video files being uploaded to its Photos platform and taking up free storage space.
With a nickname like 'bokeh master,' we had to see what the Sigma 105mm F1.4 was all about. Take a look at our gallery of samples shot with the Sony a7R III.
The Nikon Museum in Shinagawa, Tokyo has an exhibition showing off some of the most rare and unique prototype lenses Nikon ever developed.
VSCO has announced it will stop selling its film emulation presets for desktop programs March 1st, 2019.
On their latest models the two smartphone manufacturers have replaced the dreaded display notch by a design that features a circular hole for the front camera in the display.
With the latest version, Adobe Camera now lets you import Raw files from the newest iPhones, Pixel devices, the Samsung Galaxy Note 9 and Nikon Z6 among others.
The Nikon Z6 may not offer the incredible resolution of its sibling, the Z7, but its 24MP resolution is more than enough for most people, and the money saved can buy a lot of glass. Find out what's new and notable about the Z6 in our First Impressions Review.
Sigma says its 70-200mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport lens is set to hit shelves by the end of December 2018 at a retail price of $1,499.
DxO PhotoLab 2.1 brings a collection of new features to MacOS and Windows users alike.
The new 'Elegant' lens series includes entirely manual F2.4 lenses in 24mm, 35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 90mm focal lengths.
A feature alerts pilots visually and/or verbally when their drone is approaching airspace that is unsafe or areas where drone flying is not permitted.
GoPro announced Monday morning that it plans to move production of United States-bound cameras out of China, citing tariffs concerns.
The Sigma 56mm F1.4 combines a sensible sub-$500 price tag and excellent performance, providing a portrait-friendly 85mm equiv. view on Sony's APS-C mirrorless cameras.
Azriel Knight of the YouTube channel This Old Camera explains the history of DX encoding.
The 250mm F4 is Fujifilm's longest lens for its medium-format system. It's equivalent to about 200mm on a GFX camera, and we put it to work on some portraits as well as some scenes around Seattle's waterfront – take a look.