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


View All Comments

  • Thud2 - Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - link

    Irony, look it up. Reply
  • Flunk - Monday, April 22, 2013 - link

    A native speaker, probably, but it's a hell of a lot harder for people where English is their second language. Reply
  • MobiusStrip - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    he also has a problem with capital letters you would think that using a shift key wouldnt be too hard since even elementary school children understand capitals but apparently its too easy to get online now Reply
  • leexgx - Saturday, May 04, 2013 - link

    Well i am going to get the HTC ONE (pre Order UK Orange, probably Wednesday 8th) and see how it goes, i really do like the front speakers but i still think battery mite be an issue but i may be more concerned about the GPS shutting down if the phone gets to hot (like the HTC One X does)

    Guess i can always sell the phone and get the Moto razr HD (or S4 maybe) but it is not much of an upgrade from the RAZR MAXX currently own (mostly faster CPU and little better screen +2600 bat) but i would really want the HD MAXX version (not for sale in UK......) just for the little bit more power to last the day if i have used it a lot, as the 2600 on the RAZR HD should be fine as the phone is not going to be pulling much power compared to S3/S4 or other random HTC phones incarnations
  • MobiusStrip - Wednesday, May 22, 2013 - link

    "if the phone gets to hot"

    What? How do you "hot" something? And why would the phone get to do it?
  • efeman - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    The depth of this review is astonishing. Excellent work, Brian. Reply
  • MilwaukeeMike - Saturday, April 06, 2013 - link

    Yes, it is. The word 'review' doesn't cut it. It's a comprehensive analysis. This site teaches you more about a product than like the rest of the internet combined. Reply
  • Sabresiberian - Sunday, April 07, 2013 - link

    This kind of review is why I come to Anandtech. :) Reply
  • PC Perv - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    Too many quality control issues from what I've read around the Web. I would wait out the first batches. Reply
  • Crono - Friday, April 05, 2013 - link

    I have to say that I am really drawn by the build quality and construction detail of the HTC One. Even if the specs of the S4 are marginally higher in certain areas, I prefer a device that feels solid and comfortable to hold. "Ergonomics" doesn't matter for my desktop, but for a cell phone it's almost first priority when all other things (camera quality, screen quality, CPU, etc.) are equal or close to equal on competing phones.

    I'm a Windows Phone user at the moment, but the One is bringing me over to Android. Pre-ordering right now on my carrier's website.

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