Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The New HTC One - A Photographers Best Friend?

Well, exciting news yesterday with the announcement of the all new HTC One and truth is I'm pretty excited!

As this is a photography blog, let me move past the other specs of the phone and concentrate on the photography side of things, there will be plenty of other reviews covering all the other phone functions.

Photographers know the importance of always having their camera with them.  It's not always possible to be carrying a DSLR around with you all the time, though most of us are rarely more than a a few feet away from our phones.  It seems to make sense that any keen photographer should ensure they have invested in a phone with a quality camera onboard!  Well, get ready for the new HTC One.

So what sets this phone apart from the usual?  Well for starters it's only 4 megapixels! Any photographers reading this are aware of the phoney 'mega pixels war' that has raged since the early days of digital photography where the number of megapixels is used as a sales metric and to show advancement of technology.  Of course photographers and tech-savy people are aware that quality optics, a decent sensor and good image processing will mean a better photo is produced than the number of pixels of a camera.  HTC are taking a bold step towards putting an end to the megapixel wars.  

At the launch event in the US HTC's design director Jonah Becker said, "For years, people have been misled about what is important in a camera, what matters is not pixel count, but pixel size. We're talking about real image quality, not just megapixels for the sake of megapixels. The era of the megapixel is over!"

So if the new HTC One is 4 megapixels, what about the sensor, optics and image processing?

The HTC One uses a single 4.3-megapixel sensor (1/3-inch BSI CMOS), the interesting part of this is that the pixels are nearly twice the usual size, about the same size as a high-end compact like the popular FujiFilm X20, this allows in much more light, around 300% more according to HTC.  More light in means that the camera will perform better in low-light situations meaning much less grainy, underexposed images, focusing will also be improved.

As for optics, the HTC One uses an f/2.0 lens which is better than the iPhone 5’s f/2.4 lens, and matches the Nokia Lumia 920.  It also offers 2-axis optical image stabilisation.

With 4 megapixels the image processing is likely to be faster meaning a maximum shooting rate of 8 fps, this will be great for action shots.

Check out HTC Zoe to learn more about the technology as it shows some pretty cool graphics. 

So, in a nutshell, don't let the number of pixels put you off, the camera on the HTC One is simply outstanding.

Here's the geek speak...

HTC Zoe™ Camera with UltraPixels
Lens with F2.0 apertureLens with F2.8 aperture1.96x more light entry than F2.8
2.0 mm pixel size~1.4 mm pixel size (on typical 8MP sensors)
~1.1 mm pixel size (on typical 13MP sensors)
2.04x more sensitivity than 1.4 mm
3.31x more sensitivity than 1.1 mm
2-axis optical image stabilizer2-axis optical image stabilizerAllowing longer exposure with more stability, resulting in higher quality photos with lower noise and better lowlight sensitivity
Real-time hardware
HDR for video (~84db)
No video HDR (~54db)~1.5x more dynamic range with 84db compared to 54db in competitions

Sensor TypeCMOS BSI
Sensor Size1/3'
Sensor Pixel Size2 mm X 2 mm
Camera Full Size Resolution2688 x 1520 16:9 ratio
Shutter speed up to 48fps with reduced motion blur
Video Resolutions1080P up to 30fps
720P up to 60fps
1080P with HDR up to 28fps
768x432 up to 96fps
H.264 high profile, up to 20mbps
Focal Length of System3.82 mm
Optical F/# ApertureF/2.0
Number of Lens Elements5P
Optical Image Stabilizer2-axis, +/- 1 degree (average), 2000 cycles per second
ImageChip / ISP EnhancementsHTC continuous autofocus algorithm (~200ms), De-noise algorithm, color shading for lens compensation
Maximum frames per secondUp to 8fps continuous shooting