Features

Special modes are accessible in the mode tray.

The HTC 10 comes with a good imaging feature set. Basics such as HDR and panorama modes are included, but so is a hyperlapse function and HTC's Zoe camera, a feature that takes 9MP 16:9 still images with 3 sec video clips which can later be turned into highlight movies using the Zoe editor app. Most of the modes can be easily accessed via the mode tray that pulls out from the left edge of the screen. There's also a slow-motion video mode which we take a closer look at on the video page.

Panorama mode

 Panorama mode comes with both a virtual horizon and framing guide.

The HTC's panorama mode works pretty much in the same way as on most smartphones. The capturing process is fully automatic and you can record with the camera in either horizontal or vertical orientation. In addition to the the usual framing guide window the HTC 10 also offers a virtual horizon to help keep things straight.

Unfortunately the results cannot quite keep up with the decent user interface. Image size is not the smallest we have seen but not anywhere close the massive panorama image files produced by the best in class: for example, the latest Samsung Galaxy and iPhone models. At closer inspection you'll also find ghosting on some moving subjects and the occasional stitching error. The mode appears to be particularly sensitive to changes in panning speed and doesn't correct for strong variation of brightness within a scene. Overall the images are nice to view at smaller sizes and but as you zoom in the imperfections will become more visible.

 Vertical panorama, 8740 x 1034 pixels
 Horizontal panorama, 6064 x 1802 pixels

HDR Mode

Like pretty much all smartphones the HTC 10 has a tendency to clip highlights in high-contrast scenes. Usually High Dynamic Range (HDR) modes can help preserve at least some of the lost highlight detail by capturing several frames at different exposures and combining them into one image. Unfortunately on the HTC 10 the mode is not effective at all at preventing clipped highlights. 

As you can see in the sample below HDR mode is very much focused on lifting the shadow areas of the frame. The highlights remain largely untouched, or on some occasions, clipping is even slightly increased. Unfortunately this makes dialing in some negative exposure compensation your best option for preserving highlight detail in high-contrast scenes.

 ISO 100, 1/1350 sec, HDR off  ISO 100, 1/1247 sec, HDR on
 100% crop  100% crop

Front Camera

The HTC 10 comes with a 5MP front camera that uses 1.34 µm large pixels with a fast F1.8 aperture. The focal length is a wide 23mm equivalent and the HTC is also one of the first devices to come with optical image stabilization in the front camera. The specs sound impressive and they do indeed translate to better real-life image quality. 

The camera produces good exposures, even in very dim conditions and, thanks to the OIS, the risk of image shake is noticeably lower than on the competition. In bright light image detail is in line with what you would expect from a smallish 5MP sensor but the lens shows some very noticeable softness around the edges and bright illumination can lead to highlight clipping on skin tones. 

 Front camera, ISO 80, 1/1569 sec
 Front camera, ISO 1000, 1/7 sec
 Front camera with display flash, ISO 640, 1/15 sec