Real World Camera Comparison, Performance in Well Lit Scenes

I took a bunch of photos with the HTC One alongside a number of other cameras in either a bracket or some other form of mount, and I think they tell an interesting story. If you click on the buttons the thumbnail will change, and the image link will also change for viewing the full res original image. I’d recommend opening the full res images in new tabs and then switching back and forth at 1:1 zoom. The phones I had with me for most of these were the HTC One (obviously), iPhone 5, Lumia 920, HTC Butterfly, and LG Optimus G Pro. I took many many photos with each camera at each location and selected the best ones.

What sticks out at me is how much the subtleties of the HTC One match the HTC Butterfly, it’s obvious how much of the regional tastes of their camera tuners makes its way into the images. Both have a bit too much sharpening for my tastes, and virtually all the smartphones lose a lot of detail to noise reduction but still manage to have surprisingly noisy sky texture. I still can’t shake the impression that HTC has some JPEG artifacts which accentuate the noise in these relatively homogenous regions as well. Apple seems to reflect the kind of tuning I would find myself wanting the most – minimal noise reduction in-camera, encode the noise out, and don’t risk losing any detail. HTC and LG seem to go for more aggressive noise reduction which occasionally leaves that oil painting look, and Nokia surprisingly is somewhere in-between.

HTC One: 1/9600s, ISO 100

In the first Sentinel Peak image, the Lumia 920 is oddly soft at the bottom, the HTC One has a bit of softness at bottom right. Because of the way that OIS works in both these cameras there’s that chance that the extreme field angles will have some softness if the camera is shifted during capture while OIS is compensating.

HTC One: 1/3800s, ISO 109

In the second Sentinel Peak image with the saguaro cactus, it’s interesting to pay attention to the detail in the foliage of the palo verde tree. The Optimus G and Butterfly turn most of the tree into a blurry homogenous mess, the Lumia 920 has a bit of an oil painting look as well, and the HTC One does pretty well given its lower resolution, though still looks a bit too sharpened for me.

In this next shot I exposed for the shadowed Virgin Mary figurine using tap to focus / capture on all the cameras. I find that the One excels in situations like this which are a challenge because of very bright and very dark regions next to each other. There’s no HDR used here.

HTC One: 1/320s, ISO 100

What sticks out about the HTC One to me is what I get from looking EXIF, which is why I pulled that data out for each image in its comparison. Because there’s no way to manually set exposure on any smartphone right now (because nobody is willing to treat smartphone users like adults, apparently), I wind up using auto mode and looking back at what each camera selected in each setting. In the daytime images, what sticks out is that the exposure time is incredibly short, or fast. The result is that the One is incredible at stopping motion outdoors, and this seems to have been HTC’s big priority with tuning the One, rather than pushing noise down even further by going perhaps to ISO 50 like we see the iPhone and LG Optimus G Pro do, if the ST CMOS in the One even supports it.

Still Camera Analysis The Real Test: Low Light Performance of the HTC One
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  • Death666Angel - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    I haven't had build quality issues with my 2 Samsung phones so far (SGS2 and GN). You may be confusing build quality with material choices. I personally don't give a damn about my phone being metal. It gets a case around it anyway and then I want to get the weight saving from plastic. :) All else being equal, I'll probably always choose the plastic phone. :D Reply
  • theduckofdeath - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    I agree, the SGS2 is a solid phone. I remember mine getting squeaky after I dropped it pretty hard on a pavement once, so hard that the back popped off and the battery flew out. For a while I thought that I had bent the whole phone, but after looking it all over I realized that it was just the battery that was bent. I flattened it as good as I could, and after that the phone was nice and solid again. :) Reply
  • vvk - Monday, April 08, 2013 - link

    Agree. Plastic survives falls much better than metal and frankly who has not dropped their phone at least ones? And if you use case with the phone the argument for metal becomes even murkier. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - link

    No it doesn't. Go over the the Squaretrade site and see what they have to say about it. Metal does better Mostar the time. Samsung is just being cheap. Reply
  • Crono - Monday, April 08, 2013 - link

    I'm not "confusing build quality with material choices", though I see what you are getting at.
    While materials aren't everything, they are at least half the equation when looking at build quality. If you have a flimsy plastic housing, but great internals, the result is cheap feeling phone. My current and previous phones have all been plastic, but they've all taken a beating in regular use and look worse for it. I prefer to not need or use a case.

    In any case (pardon the pun), HTC phones have better in-hand feel in my experience even when using plastic.
    Reply
  • AZsoul - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    If you are an existing att customer, no pre-order and no free media link. Another example of their superior customer service. Reply
  • horay - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    That's because AT&T wants you to buy the iphone. Reply
  • darwinosx - Sunday, April 07, 2013 - link

    No carrier wants you to buy the iPhone. They sell it because they have to due to customer demand. they ay more for iPhones and can't load them up with logos and bloatware like Android phones. Reply
  • IsthatyouBevis - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    That is not true. I went to the AT&T store and preordered and recieved the media link. Please don't spread dis-information Reply
  • erikiksaz - Monday, April 08, 2013 - link

    The fact that carriers don't want you to purchase an iphone is absolutely true. The margins are so low that the CSRs very little bonus when they sell an iphone relative to any android product. Reply

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