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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  • jbrandonf - Tuesday, April 09, 2013 - link

    I don't think you know how it works but carrier reps receive no additional money for selling a specific platform. -ex carrier rep Reply
  • bnathan - Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - link

    Maybe with your one carrier in your one country but most carriers offer commissions for selling handsets and plans. The carriers I have dealings with they ALL offer commissions as incentives to sell and the Iphone gives the lowest commission to sales people as there is no money in Apple products. Sell and Iphone and the payment (handset subsidy) barely covers the cost of giving the handset away for free with the plan, sell Android or WP8 and the payment covers the handset and you get enough to make a tidy sum of money. The only saving grace to sell an Iphone is that you can just be an order taker there is no selling involved so you can do the contract and move onto the next customer hence higher numbers to make the same commission and the fact there is so many add ons which you can add to an iphone. Walk into any shop and they will have 100+ Iphone accessories and a couple for each Android handset if any. The only people who make money out of Apple products is Apple. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - link

    A ridiculous comment. Apples cost are only a little higher than the rest and they make more from android because they can load up the devices with their garbage software. All the developers of iOS devices, accessory makers. People who produce using would find your comments ignorant and amusing. Compare that to the meager Android aftermarket and developer revenues. Not even close. Reply
  • Thud2 - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    He didn't say "Carrier Rep" Reply
  • Thud2 - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    The OP I mean. Reply
  • darwinosx - Tuesday, April 30, 2013 - link

    Either you weren't really a carrier rep or you are lying. Reply
  • TinaE - Sunday, April 14, 2013 - link

    Me too. I ordered today at the ATT store and received the media link for free. Reply
  • sjain - Sunday, April 07, 2013 - link

    Just pre-ordered on the AT&T website and got my free media link. I am an existing customer so am surprised at your comment. They clearly spell out that you have to add the media link manually and it shows up as $0.00 in your cart. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Sunday, April 07, 2013 - link

    The thing that stops me from jumping off the Win 8 phone ship is that I think MS is just beginning to get serious about smart phones. The idea of a Surface Pro Smart phone, with its VaporMg body and full-blown Win8 OS, isn't all that far-fetched, and until MS proves they are never going to make such a thing, I'll be waiting for it. :) Reply
  • kyuu - Sunday, April 07, 2013 - link

    Full Win8 on a smartphone isn't going to happen, and I'm not sure why you'd *want* it in the first place. Reply

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