Camera - Stills and Video

I sound like a broken record here with how many similarities there are between the Bionic and the Droid 3, but camera is another of them. The Bionic has a rear facing 8 MP camera with single LED flash and autofocus, and captures stills at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448.

The rear sensor is based on an Omnivision OV8820 CMOS sensor which is backside illuminated, 1/3.2" in size, and has 1.4µm square pixels. This is a very modern sensor behind an optical system with F/2.8 optics and a 4.6mm focal length. If that sounds familiar, it’s because this is exactly what’s inside the Motorola Droid 3 as well.

The front facing camera is home to a rather less interesting VGA (0.3 MP) fixed focus CMOS sensor. In this case, it’s an Omnivision OV7739 with 3.0µm square pixels which is 1/7.5" in size. I’ve found all of these drivers and configuration files again lurking deep inside /system on the Bionic.

The Bionic also has the same exact camera application, though subjectively it seems a lot more finicky on the Droid Bionic. In still image shooting mode, one can toggle between widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio 6 MP or the sensor’s native aspect ratio 8 MP, there aren’t any other options for lower resolutions. The other options are for toggling storage location, shutter noise, and video capture resolution. There are the usual assortment of other toggles on a ribbon down at the bottom - effects, scenes, modes, brightness, and flash settings.

The Droid Bionic shoots pretty decent photos, the problem that I have with this is the software. It takes a while to get into the camera application, and there’s a lot of shot to shot variance in speed. The other problem is that the Bionic seems to miss focus a lot more than I remember the Droid 3 doing - occasionally it’ll just blow off the long press on capture button and take the picture before AF finishes. This is maddening at times and downright frustrating at others since you’ll need to capture two or three to get one where AF has settled down, you can see this behavior below for yourself.

We’ve taken photos with the Bionic at the usual test location, and in the lightbox, with the lights on and off. Just like the Droid 3, the Bionic doesn’t illuminate the scene when running AF in the dark, so often it’ll expose perfectly but capture a blurry image. I’ll let you be the judge of image quality, it’s just like I saw on the Droid 3.

In video mode, you get the same layout, however instead the new options are audio scenes, video shooting duration, and an on/off toggle for LED lighting. Options for video shooting are pretty simple - 1080p30 at 15 Mbps, 720p30 at 10 Mbps, and a few others. For both of these, high profile features are used like we talked about in the Droid 3 review. You can actually see all of these configured from build.prop on the Bionic:

ro.media.camcorder.1080p=mp4,h264,30,15000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.720p=mp4,h264,30,10000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.d1NTSC=mp4,h264,30,6000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.vga=mp4,h264,30,4000000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.cif=mp4,h264,30,1500000,aac,128000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.qvga=mp4,h264,15,500000,aac,64000,44100,2 ro.media.camcorder.mms=3gp,h264,15,128000,amrnb,12200,8000,1

Resolution, extension, video compression standard, framerate, video bitrate, audio codec, sampling rate, and number of channels. It’s all right there in that order presented nicely in build.prop just like so many other Android devices.

 

I’ve also captured sample video at the usual place from the front and rear facing cameras. Video quality is very good, though the Bionic does run that AF routine a lot on the rear facing camera while shooting 1080p video. Again OMAP4’s encoder implements some nice high profile feature, but still only uses 1 reference frame where 2–4 would ensure better encoder efficiency. I’ve also uploaded native samples from the Bionic to our server for you to watch without YouTube’s transcoding.

Display - Same as the Droid X2 Performance - OMAP 4430
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  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Still going through the full review now...obviously quite a bit to get to. But I did want to say that Anand's first video review with the Apple Cinema Display was intriguing, and I enjoyed watching it. But this one, Brian...it just lacks the humanity. Seeing someone on the screen actually made me interested in watching, even with a complete lack of movement. Not sure if anyone else agrees, but if you guys are going to do video, I'd like to see faces talking intelligently, like you most certainly can. Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I've been doing videos in this format for a while now to show off the phone and keep it cropped nicely, but going forwards we're trying to find a way to merge the two styles.

    Doing something like what Anand usually does will require telepresence of some kind, however, but it's indeed a format we are working on.

    -Brian
    Reply
  • jackka - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Being able to see a talking face shouldn't matter much for phone reviews. People want to see the actual phone up close and in detail.

    It's not like we're watching the news or a talk show. The current format is simple and effective at its job. While I wouldn't mind more personality in the video, I definitely wouldn't trade it for any bit of the view or the detail of the actual phone that is being reviewed.

    Much thanks for the video and the review, by the way.
    Reply
  • Johnnn3433 - Saturday, November 05, 2011 - link

    Is 4G LTE Speed Faster Than 4G or Even Faster Than 3G?
    www.fourgltephones.com
    Reply
  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    No worries, I totally get what you mean. I've stayed away from the camera for years...and every time I think of picking it up and putting myself on the screen, I stop myself for way too many reasons. I just think that you guys are clearly articulate enough to express exactly what need be said in a video, perhaps without even showing much of the product itself.

    Then again, it may depend on the product in question. I guess that still needs to be tested.
    Reply
  • vol7ron - Wednesday, October 12, 2011 - link

    Bad idea. Sure it's nice to see a face, maybe you want to use PIP by lockergnome does, but the review is about the device. You want to see how the device looks, how it interacts, it's something visual. You can get away with doing that for something like an SSD, CPU, or RAM, but if you're doing a video about a device that takes visual input or gives visual output, you better include it in the video. Reply
  • Jamezrp - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I've had the Bionic myself for a bit now, testing it...the biggest problem I've had (besides battery life) are the occasional software hiccups, which I didn't see you didn't seem to have Brian, or at least didn't mention. The worst is when I lose my cell data connection, the Bionic won't start up that connection again, period. I need to put it in sleep mode and wake it up, or reboot it entirely. Not even airplane mode switching fixes that.

    Other quirks include the awful shortcut-adding method, no settings in the drop-down menu, and a few more which escape me because it's late. On my model it even reads only 8GB of onboard memory, plus the 16GB card. The more I investigate, the more I think my model may be slightly defective...

    Have you experienced any of these software problems?

    I'll also add that I've had nearly identical benchmark scores. But I don't have the laptop dock...any plans on adding a section for that?
    Reply
  • Brian Klug - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    I honestly haven't experienced any of those issues at all - I've lost cellular data and had it come back no problems many times. Handover remains a problem for many of the LTE handsets however, where you'll either get stuck on EVDO until you reboot.

    Does airplane mode fix it at all? Sometimes these things really only can be remedied by a hardware swap, unfortunately.

    No plans to add a section related to the laptop dock since Motorola didn't sample us one. However I'm told this is exactly the same as the Atrix, you can check out Anand's experience with that in his review though: http://www.anandtech.com/show/4165/the-motorola-at...

    -Brian
    Reply
  • bplewis24 - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    You may have a lemon, because I don't have any of those issues. Reply
  • Hubb1e - Tuesday, October 11, 2011 - link

    Mine has been flawless as well. Sounds like a lemon. The extended battery turns this into a great phone for power users and doesn't add that much bulk. I'm very happy with mine. Reply

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