HTC One M8 Camera Review
Image Quality and Performance
With its high-end specification and powerful Snapdragon 801 quad-core SoC the HTC One M8 feels very fast and responsive in general use, with apps opening and operating swiftly and screens and images scrolling smoothly on the large screen.
The HTC also performs responsively when using the camera. It takes just over a second for the camera app to open and be ready for your first capture. Shot to shot times are very fast, you can practically shoot as fast as you can move your finger up and down on the shutter button. A long press on the shutter triggers a burst of 20 images within approximately two seconds. Unfortunately continuous shooting cannot be combined with manual mode and it is therefore, like on most smartphones, not possible to set shutter speeds fast enough to freeze motion in lower light.
Focus acquisition is in line with competing devices but, due to the lack of a focus light, slows down a lot in low light. In very dim conditions occasionally the One M8's focus will lock despite the image being out of focus, capturing a blurry image. It's not quite clear why HTC does not use the flash LEDs as a focus assist light, like many other smarpthones on the market.
Daylight, Low ISO
The lowest ISO that can be selected manually is 200 but in Auto mode and in good light the HTC One M8 captures most images at ISO 125. Very occasionally an image is tagged as ISO 100 in the Exif-data but there is no discernible difference in terms of image quality.
Apart from some shadow noise the low ISO images are quite saturated and clean, with only very little visible noise in areas of plain color, such as skies. However, the HTC's 4MP and F2 lens resolve visibly less detail than the competing high-end devices with their higher-resolution sensors. Sharpening is strong but within acceptable limits. Like on most smartphones there is some smearing of low-contrast detail, even at base ISO.
When taking images of sunny scenes we have noticed that the HTC's exposure is often a touch darker than other devices, presumably in an attempt to protect the highlights from clipping. However, it seems HTC is slightly overdoing things. When looking at the histogram of the out-of-camera image below you can see that the exposure is shifted toward the dark tones, with few highlights. After a quick level-adjustment in Photoshop the image's tones are distributed across the entire tonal range and the exposure is more pleasant.
The HTC One M8 is extremely prone to moiré artifacts. If there are fine repeating patterns in your scene there is a good chance you will end up with moiré in your images. The effect ranges from fairly subtle, like in the roof tiles of the building in the left image below, to very extreme, like on the striped T-shirt worn by the person in the image on the right. Unfortunately there is very little you can do to avoid this.
Fringing is another problem. You'll find it on the typical high-contrast edges and often in doses that make it visible even at smaller viewing sizes. Most digital cameras and smartphones use software algorithms to get rid of or at least mitigate the effect but it appears no such system has been implemented on the One M8. In some of the examples we've shot, it's hard to separate moiré from fringing, and it's possible that in some areas (like the ones we're showing below) the obvious false colors result from a combination of issues.
Like on all smartphones the One M8's dynamic range is limited and the camera struggles with highlights in high-contrast scenes. In practice this means that on a bright day smartphones have a tendency to clip highlight in the sky, especially if the landscape portion of the frame is darker.
While this is common to almost all smartphones the One M8 has the additional nasty habit of only clipping one or two color channels and turning the sky cyan before clipping completely. This gives the image a very unnatural look and we would not expect to see this on any digital camera in 2014.
Low Light, High ISO
Thanks to its fast lens and a tendency to use slow shutter speeds the HTC One M8 can keep the ISO at base until the light conditions get quite dim. For the images below, which were shot indoors at fairly low light levels, the camera only had to increase ISO to 250 and 320 respectively. For the second image the camera could have kept the ISO even lower as a shutter speed of 1/100 sec is much faster than what the One M8 usually tends to pick in these conditions.
At those moderate ISO levels the images already start losing some fine detail and there is some chroma noise visible in the shadow areas but overall they still look good at screen viewing size, with good exposure and colors.
Climbing up the ISO ladder the loss of fine detail becomes more obvious. Fine detail, like hair or the feathers in the image on the right, is being blurred by noise reduction. Yet both luminance and chroma noise become more visible in shadow areas and areas of plain color. In these low light conditions the HTC uses shutter speeds of around 1/12 sec which will cause motion blur even on very slow moving subjects.
In this dark church the camera had to increase ISO to 1250 and 1600 respectively and when zooming in to 100% view it's very obvious that such high settings take their toll. There is practically no fine detail left in the images which are also blighted by an ugly mix of noise and artifacts. If your image quality requirements are not too high these images are still usable at smaller viewing sizes but you would not want to use them for making a framed print.
The images below have been taken in very low light and the HTC uses its highest ISO setting of 3200. It's commendable that the One M8 can still achieve a decent exposure in these conditions but very high levels of noise and softness caused by noise reduction limit the use of these images to documentary purposes.
The One M8 generally does a good job when flash is used but in common with previous HTC models we have tested it delivers relatively dark exposures. This helps in keeping the ISO down though and at ISO 250 for the sample below more detail is preserved than on some competitors that use higher ISOs in flash mode.
The dual-LED system helps avoid the typical cool color cast we've seen on flash images taken with previous generation smartphones but the HTC has one important disadvantage: it does not use the flash LED as a focus light in low light which means the focus can be very slow to lock on and occasionally do so when the image is not actually in focus, as can be see in the sample to the right.
With the exception of the latest generation of Nokia Lumia devices and within limits the Sony Xperia Z1 and Z1 using the digital zoom on any smartphone is generally a bad idea. However, due to its low 4MP pixel count the HTC One M8 is particularly bad. As you see below image quality heads south as soon as you touch the zoom control. The maximum 4x setting creates a pixelated mess and in our opinion should not even be offered as on option on this phone.
Mar 25, 2014
Aug 19, 2014
May 24, 2017
May 24, 2017
|Douaumont Ossuary by Eric 54-BNF|
from Armistice Day
|Silhouette at sunset by Jill Hancock|
from Portrait Lens (around 80mm or equivalent - please check the full rules)
Sigma is discounting 13 different high-performance 'Art' series lenses from today until November 30th. The company is calling it an 'unprecedented' sale.
See DJI's 'AeroScope' drone-tracking technology in action. This is the system that DJI says can help law enforcement and airport (among others) track and identify rogue drones.
iPhone X owners can already accessorize their new phone with high-quality smartphone photography lenses courtesy of Moment's new lineup.
Considering buying Sigma's exciting new 16mm F1.4 DC DN Contemporary lens for crop-sensor E-Mount and M43? Check out these official full-res samples first!
Vimeo has just added support for 8K HDR 10-bit content, making it possible to show up to 75% of the colors the human eye can perceive vs the usual 35%. Take THAT YouTube.
The holidays are coming, but your gear isn't cutting it? It's time to treat yourself!
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and sitting pretty at #5 is the Fujifilm X-T20.
See some of the most iconic black-and-white photographs throughout history brought to life by a community of colorization enthusiasts and professional retouchers in the new book Retrographic.
Shopping for a photographer? Whether you are one yourself or not, chances are you could use some ideas. From stocking stuffers on up, we've got some photography gift suggestions for every budget.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. Drum roll please... the #6 spot belongs to none other than the Sigma 85mm F1.4 DH HSM Art.
Read the story behind this gorgeous wedding photo captured at Trolltunga in Norway by husband and wife duo Priscila Valentina Photography. The 14 hour hike in the rain that preceded this shot was TOTALLY worth it.
Go behind the scenes with filmmaker Nick Arcivos, who recently created a beautiful cinematic short film in Paris using only the iPhone X, a couple of gimbals, and a few lights. The results are very impressive.
A Bay Area startup offering a pay-by-the-photo camera service cleverly addresses the pain points photographers experience when they pick up their first DSLR. But can it survive the smartphone?
It's been a big year for software innovations, dual cameras and huge displays. Take a look at our picks for the top smartphone cameras and why we think they stand out.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017. At the #7 spot is the ready-for-any-weather Olympus Tough TG-5.
By combining his skills as a time-lapse filmmaker and an engineer, Julian Tryba created this out-of-this-world creative 'layer-lapse' of New York City that alternates between night and day in time with the music.
Canon Japan's new lineup of novelty camera-themed gifts was just revealed online, including a lens mug and lens thermos, two retro camera-themed USB drives, and a picnic mat.
The Profoto A1 most certainly isn’t for everyone [...] But for those who are used to using the Profoto systems, and want something that pairs seamlessly with the strobes you already have, there is no better companion.
Fujifilm has asked a US district court to clear it of any wrongdoing, after allegedly being threatened with trademark litigation by Polaroid.
While a couple of our reviewers are out testing the Sony a7R III in Arizona, back in Seattle we slapped the camera in front of our studio scene to get a close look at its image quality. See how it stacks up against the competition.
We're counting down our top 10 most popular sample galleries of 2017, and the #8 ranking belongs to the Nikon D7500.
B+W has announced a new aluminum filter holder that offers three slots so users can use multiple filters at the same time. The holder goes with the 2mm thick 100mm square filters it launched earlier this year.
8K video is coming a lot faster than you think, and Blackmagic is ready for it. Meet the DeckLink 8K Pro, a new high performance PCI-E capture and playback card built to handle 'real time high resolution 8K workflows.'
"Glass is everywhere in photography. From Eugène Atget’s reflective vitrines to Lee Friedlander’s sly self-portraiture, photographers have long been in thrall to the visual complications glass can inject into a composition."
Former Apple Aperture lead developer Nik Bhatt has designed an iOS app called RAW Power that lets you edit raw photos from your professional camera using your phone and tablet.... color us intrigued.
Advertising photographer Blair Bunting got his hands on the new Microsoft Surface Book 2, and it blew him away. Bye bye MacBook Pro...
The OnePlus 5T retains many of the 5's features and specs, but comes with an edge-to-edge display and a dual-camera that is optimized for low light.
Sony's recently announced IMX461 backside illuminated medium format sensor will bring 100MP resolution and almost 2x the speed to the next-gen Fuji GFX and Hasselblad X1D.
With the ‘Rent a Hasselblad’ camera equipment renting program, the camera makers is aiming to give enthusiast and professional photographers easier access to its medium-format photography products.
They say seeing is believing, and that's exactly what happened when one DPR staffer took the Google Pixel 2 out for an afternoon shooting under challenging conditions.