HTC One M8 Camera Review
The HTC One had arguably the best imaging feature set of any smartphone when it was announced in 2013 and with its Duo Cam and related features the new M8 has even more to offer. The M8 comes with an abundance of features and pre-installed apps and you could literally spend days exploring and experimenting with the phone's imaging features alone.
In this section we are concentrating on the M8's new Duo Cam and other imaging features that are most useful and often used by mobile photographers. Many of the original One's imaging features have not changed on the One M8 and are still available on the new model. This includes the Zoe Camera and its Object Removal, Always Smile and Sequence Shot modes. The Highlight Movies, Night Mode, Backlight Mode, effect filters and image adjustments all were available on the predecessor as well. We have covered all of those features comprehensively in the features section of our HTC One review.
Duo Cam Features
The HTC One M8 is loaded with HTC-specific apps but the most talked about feature at its launch was the Duo Camera. The M8 comes with the original One's 4MP "Ultrapixel" sensor but in addition has a lower-resolution secondary camera that is not capturing image but depth information. This means the camera has some idea of the distance of objects from the lens. There are a number of new features that then use this information, for example to apply blur or a filter effect to the background.
None of the Duo Cam features are applied at capture. As long as you don't cover the secondary cam with your finger depth information is saved in the image file and the Ufocus, Foregrounder, Seasons and Dimension Plus effects can be applied in the gallery app. It's worth mentioning that the Duo Cam Features are not available when shooting in Macro Mode.
Ufocus lets you set the focus point by tapping on the screen, and then blurs those parts of the frame that are not in the focus plane. The idea is to isolate the subject of an image in the same way as you would do when shooting a portrait with a large-sensor camera and a large aperture.
Unfortunately this only works in a limited way. In the samples below we can see that Ufocus is indeed isolating the subject by blurring the background but can't do so in a way that makes the end result look like the real thing. Zooming in you'll see that the mode can't mimic the smooth blur fall-off you'd get from a DSLR and fast lens. Things are either sharp or totally blurred, there is no middle ground. In the first sample below the front of the subjects face is in focus but the sides of the head, ears and neck are already blurred to the same degree as the background.
The second sample was taken at the same time and place, with the same lens to subject distance, yet the result is noticeably better. The background is less blurred and the entire head of the subject is in focus, making the image look more realistic. That said, there still is no sharpness fall-off and looking at the edges of the foreground subject it's obvious that foreground/background separation is far from perfect.
Similar problems can be observed in sample number three below. The blur factor goes from 0 to 100 percent without any intermediate steps. In this image this is most noticeable on the leaf-covered ground. Again Ufocus is struggling to isolate the subject in a precise way in this image. Small background areas around the subject are still in focus. The same effect is visible on the plant in the foreground to the left.
When taking pictures of a more complex shaped object Ufocus finds it even harder to separate foreground and background. This can be clearly seen in the background areas that are enclosed by the bicycle frame and wheels in sample number 4. The app gets confused and doesn't seem to have any idea of which part of the bike belongs to the foreground and which to the background of the image.
In its current state the performance of the Ufocus feature is a little disappointing and nowhere near the smooth sharpness transition you would get from shooting with a DSLR and fast lens. The center focus functions in apps like Snapseed or Pixlr are not any more realistic than Ufocus but achieve more pleasant results. The Lens Blur effect in Google's new camera app appears to do a better job, too, without the need for a secondary camera. We'll have to wait and see if HTC can improve the system's performance with a software update.
Foregrounder is another function that uses the secondary camera's depth information but instead of blurring the background (or foreground) it applies one of four filter effects. Whether you like those effects is a matter of taste but Foregrounder suffers from the same problem as Ufocus: the foreground/background separation is not very precise and you end up with filter effects on areas of your image where you don't necessarily want them.
The first sample is the same portrait as above. We've applied the Sketch filter to both fore- and background and as you can see there is some "filter bleed" going on as the app has not been able to precisely isolate the foreground.
For the second sample we focused on the monument on the market square and then applied Zoom Blur to the background which works pretty well in this case. the Foregrounder effects are fun to play and experiment with but the novelty factor wears off pretty quickly.
Seasons adds a zooming/panning effect and a season themed animation to your images and modifies color and tones which, to a degree, lets you turn a summer scene into a winter wonderland or simply add an extra element to an otherwise not very interesting scene. You can save either a still image or a 5-second 720p video. The latter is definitely the better option if you want to show off what Seasons can do.
At approximately 13MB per video you probably should go easy on your Season captures but if you're running out of memory you can always switch to still images. The effect is kind of entertaining when you try it the first time but we suspect it'll be sparsely used after a few initial sessions. As with some of the other Duo Cam features the novelty factor rubs off pretty quickly. The video below shows the Maple Leaf effect.
In Dimensions Plus mode you can slightly change the angle of view on an image by tilting the phone left, right, up or down. You can save a still frame or a Dimensions Plus file. Unfortunately the latter can only be viewed on your device.
As you can see in the samples below the effect slightly crops the original image and is overall fairly subtle. Objects that are close to the lens can also end up distorted. Admittedly Dimensions Plus is more impressive when viewed on the phone screen but still, it's arguably a feature that most users can easily live without.
Dials and sliders and buttons, oh my! This modular set of editing controls hopes to improve your photo editing workflow – for a price.
The UK's recent heatwave has provided a glimpse into Britain's history, revealing the outlines of ancient structures and buried features in the grounds of historical buildings.
The iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS), was founded in 2007, making it the longest running iPhone photo competition in the world. Now in its 11th year, the winners of the IPPAWARDS have just been announced.
Our technical evaluation of the Panasonic GX9 has included a trip to the studio, where we put its 20MP Four Thirds sensor in front of our standard test scene.
The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 VI earned high marks in our recent review, and we've revisited our collection of buying guides to reflect our final conclusions. Click through for links to our updated guides covering the best pocketable and long zoom compacts as well as the best choices for travel, which has a new winner (hint, hint).
Fujifilm has announced the XF 200mm F2 R LM OIS WR telephoto lens along with a matching 1.4x teleconverter. This weather-sealed lens - 'matte silver' in color with a bold green hood - has a total of 19 elements, a nine-blade aperture and five stops of shake reduction according to Fujifilm. The lens and teleconverter kit will be available in late October for $6000.
Fujifilm has updated its X-mount lens roadmap with three intriguing new models, which include 33mm F1.0 and 16mm F2.8 primes and a 16-80 F4 zoom.
Fujifilm's widest X-series zoom lens to-date, the XF 8-16mm F2.8 R LM WR, will hit the market in late November for $2000. The weather-sealed lens features ED, Super ED and aspherical elements along with a Nano GI coating.
We've seen different flavors of 360° cameras over the past couple of years, but the Vuze XR may be the first one that's designed to shoot both 360° spherical and 180° stereoscopic video in a single unit.
Huawei has launched the world's first photography contest with both AI and human judges. The contest began on July 12 and will run for 8 weeks. During this time, photographers can submit their images via a Facebook Messenger chatbot.
Fujifilm has announced the XF10, a premium compact camera with a fast 28mm equivalent F2.8 lens and 24MP APS-C sensor. This replacement for the X70 will ship in August for $500.
It won't come as a surprise to anyone that there are some unpleasant, predatory men within the photography industry. However, a long-form, extensively researched special report in the Columbia Journalism Review about sexual harassment is still a depressing, eye-opening read.
Is this the end? Nikon's UK and Japanese websites now list some of its KeyMission action cameras as discontinued.
Leica Camera AG is now an investor in Light, the makers of the innovative L16 camera. According to the company, the funding will allow Light to 'expand the reach of its imaging platform beyond consumer photography'
YouTuber ZY Productions has a video wherein he provides a succinct summary of how phase detection autofocus systems work, their benefits and their shortcomings.
The X-U is Leica's first ruggedized compact camera and is still the only waterproof camera on the market with a large APS-C sensor. That sensor sits behind a 35mm-equivalent, F1.7 lens, and we've taken it to the mountains and back to see just what it's capable of.
Gitzo and Sony have teamed up to launch a new tripod and L-bracket designed specifically for Sony α-series cameras.
There have now been seven variants of the Sony RX100 series, and at least six of them are still current models. Confused? Here's an updated look at their differences, and our recommendations among them now that we've tested the Mark VI.
The Kodak-branded 'Kashminer' Bitcoin mining scheme announced at CES has apparently collapsed, with Eastman Kodak distancing itself from the company behind it.
The software uses computational imaging techniques to boost detail and dynamic range in your images, and reduce noise levels.
As part of a promotional giveaway, Fujifilm Korea has released kimchi-flavored instant noodles wrapped in branding inspired by Fujifilm Provia 100 color reversal film.
The Leica Noctilux-M 75mm F1.25 ASPH is a fast, high-quality and decidedly heavyweight short telephoto prime lens, designed for use with Leica's digital M-series rangefinders. We've been grappling with it for a little while - take a look at our sample images.
70-200mm F4 zoom lenses may not get as much attention as their faster F2.8 siblings, but for many photographers these lenses hit the perfect sweet spot of price, performance, and weight. This week, we shoot the new Tamron 70-210mm F4 alongside the equivalent Canon and Nikon models to see how they stack up.
Blackmagic recently worked with Apple to develop Blackmagic eGPU, an external GPU that brings "desktop-class graphics performance" to the new MacBook Pro laptops with Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Lightroom alternative Luminar has received numerous updates across both its Mac and Windows versions, primarily improvements to existing features, as well as support for additional cameras from Fujifilm, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, and Pentax.
Sony has quietly updated its RX100 V, bringing a couple of the goodies from the RX100 VI travel zoom. The updated RX100 VA gains a new processor and various firmware tweaks but misses out on the VI's other hardware improvements.
Apple has updated its MacBook Pro series of notebooks with 15in and 13in models that are claimed to be better for intense image and video editing. The company says the new models are the most advanced ever, and that they feature 8th generation Intel Core processors for faster performance.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Adobe will announce a full-fledged Photoshop version for the iPad at its annual conference in October.
The last day to place an order for Apple photo prints and related products is September 30th.
Manfrotto has launched its new Noreg camera bag series with the Backpack-30 and Messenger-30 models. Both bags are designed for premium mirrorless camera systems, each featuring internal camera units that can be removed and used independently of the larger bags.