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DxOMark Mobile Report: Blackberry Z10

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DxOMark Mobile Report: Blackberry Z10

Blackberry, once the undisputed market leader in the smartphone world, has continuously been losing market share since the launch of the iPhone in 2007 and many were probably expecting the brand to totally disappear in a not too distant future.

However, with its new Blackberry 10 operating system the Canadian manufacturer is making an attempt to become relevant again in the mobile space.  Blackberry debuted the OS with two new devices. While the Q10, with its physical keyboard, follows in the footsteps of earlier Blackberry models, the Z10, which we cover here, features a touchscreen, placing it in direct competition to Apple's iPhone and high-end Android models from Samsung, LG, HTC and the like.

The DxOMark Mobile Report includes DxO Lab's usual industrial-quality scientific measurements. Its imaging experts have analyzed 14 aspects of mobile imaging including detailed image quality assessment, flash performance, autofocus reliability and more to calculate a final score. This report will be integrated into ur full review once it is finsihed but for now scroll down to find out how the Blackberry Z10's camera performed in the DxO lab tests.

Blackberry Z10 headline features:

  • 8-megapixel camera, backside-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • F2.2 lens, 5 elements
  • 2MP front-facing camera
  • 4.2-inch touchscreen (1280 x 786 pixels, 356ppi)
  • 1.5GHz dual-core CPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • MicroSD card slot
  • NFC

Summary

With a DxOMark Mobile score of 67 the Blackberry Z10 is ranked toward the lower end  of the DxO smartphone ranking. Its score is one point above the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920 Windows phones, but it cannot keep up with the best in class such as the Nokia 808, Apple iPhone 5 or Samsung Galaxy S3. 

The DxOMark team report that the Blackberry Z10 captures images with "Nice detail preservation including in low light conditions," "good white balance," overall good auto exposure" and "accurate autofocus in most situations." 

On the downside: Images show "very strong luminance noise in low light," "clearly visible color shading with tungsten light source in low light or D50 lighting" and "slight color fringing. When using the flash, white balance can be inaccurate." Color shading occurs when flash is mixed with a tungsten light source.

In video mode, DxOMark's engineers reported that the Blackberry Z10 offers "reactive autofocus with some tracking abilities," but on the downside video footage shows "visible color non-uniformities," "perfectible texture reproduction" and provides "inefficient video stabilization."

Still Photography

Color, Exposure and Contrast

The DxOMark team found that the Blackberry Z10's images show "overall good auto exposure," "nice and pleasant colors outdoors" and "good white balance." However, the Blackberry tends to underexpose in low light and shows "slight color shading with tungsten light source in low light or D50 lightings." Because of this DxOMark scored the Blackberry Z10 at 81/100 for color in bright light and 65/100 in low light.   

Overall DxOMark awarded the Blackberry Z10 scores of:

  • 4.2 out of 5 for Exposure
  • 4.0 out of 5 for White Balance accuracy
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color shading in low light*
  • 3.5 out of 5 for Color shading in bright light*
  • 3.0 out of 5 for Color Rendering in low light
  • 4.5 out of 5 for Color Rendering in bright light

*Color Shading is the nasty habit cellphone cameras have of rendering different areas of the frame with different color shifts, resulting in pictures with, for example, pinkish centers and greenish corners.

Noise and Details

DxOMark's engineers reported that the Blackberry Z10 image output shows "nice detail preservation including in low light conditions." On the other hand luminance noise is "very strong in low light conditions."

Texture Acutance

Texture Acutance is a way of measuring the ability of a camera to capture images that preserve fine details, particularly the kind of low contrast detail (textures such as fine foliage, hair, fur) that can be blurred away by noise reduction or obliterated by excessive sharpening.

Sharpness is an important part of the quality of an image, but while it is easy to look at an image and decide visually whether it's sharp or not, the objective measurement of sharpness is less straightforward.

An image can be defined as "sharp" if its edges are sharp and if fine details are visible, but in-camera processing means it's possible to have one of these (sharp edges) but not the other (fine details). Conventional MTF measurements tell us how sharp an edge is, but have drawbacks when it comes to measuring fine detail preservation. Image processing algorithms can detect edges and enhance their sharpness, but they can also find homogeneous areas and smooth them out to reduce noise.

Texture Acutance, on the other hand, can qualify sharpness in terms of preservation of fine details, without being fooled by edge enhancement algorithms.

A detail of  target made of a dead leaves pattern, designed to measure Texture Acutance. It is obtained by drawing random shapes that occlude each other in the plane, like dead leaves falling from a tree. The statistics of this model follow the distribution of the same statistics in natural images.

In this example from a DSLR without edge enhancement, sharpness seems equal on edge and on texture. Many details are visible in the texture.

In this second example edges have been digitally enhanced, and the edge looks over-sharp, with visible processing halos ("ringing"). On the texture part, many details have disappeared.

At first sight, the images from these two cameras may appear equally sharp. A sharpness measurement on edges will indeed confirm this impression, and will even show that the second camera is sharper. But a closer examination of low contrasted textures shows that the first camera has a better preservation of fine details than the second. The purpose of the Texture Acutance measurement is to qualify this difference.

Note: Acutance is a single value metric calculated from a MTF result. Acutance is used to assess the sharpness of an image as viewed by the human visual system, and is dependent on the viewing conditions (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). Only the values of texture acutance are given here. The measurements are expressed as a percentage of the theoretical maximum for the chosen viewing condition. The higher the score, the more details can be seen in an image. 

For all DxOMark Mobile data presented on connect.dpreview.com we're showing only the 8MP equivalent values, which gives us a level playing field for comparison between phone cameras with different megapixel values by normalizing all to 8MP, suitable for fairly large prints. DxOMark also offer this data for lower resolution use-cases (web and on-screen). For more information on DxOMark's testing methodology and Acutance measurements please visit the website at www.dxomark.com.
 Texture acutance is good and pretty much identical for daylight and tungsten light sources.
In terms of texture acutance the Blackberry Z10 compares well to the competition. In low light it is only beaten by Nokia's 808 with PureView technology, in bright light it is on the level with Apple's iPhone 5. The Nokia leads this competition at all light levels but the Blackberry is the best among the devices with conventional imaging technology.

Edge Acutance

Edge acutance is a measure of the sharpness of the edges in images captured by the phone's camera, and again we're only looking at the most demanding of the three viewing conditions that DxOMark reports on, "8MP equivalent."
The Blackberry Z10's ability to retain fine texture in images improves only slightly from very low light (20 Lux, for example, a floodlit building at night ) to 100 Lux (very dark overcast day) and then pretty much stays on the same level for 700 Lux (outdoors on an overcast day). Results under artificial light are very similar.
In terms of edge acutance the Blackberry Z10 does a decent job and is up with the best in class at all light levels. 

Visual Noise

Visual Noise is a value designed to assess the noise in an image as perceived by the human visual system, depending on the viewing condition (size of image, size of screen or print, viewing distance). The measurements have no units and can be simply viewed as a weighted average of noise standard deviation for each channel in the CIE L*a*b* color space. The lower the measurement, the less noise in the image.

 Visual noise is high in low light levels and decreases to much lower levels in brighter light. Most of the measured noise is luminance grain as chroma noise is being eliminated by noise reduction.
 The results under tungsten light are very similar to the daylight measurements.
The Blackberry Z10's noise levels are singificantly above the competiton in low and medium light levels. The Nokia 808 is the clear winner here at low light levels. The Samsung Galaxy S3 and iPhone 5 are noisier than the Nokia in low light but on similar levels in good light.

Noise and Detail Perceptual scoring

DxOMark engineers don't just point camera phones at charts, they also take and analyse scores of real-world shots and score them accordingly. Their findings for the Blackberry Z10 were:

Natural scene

  • Texture (bright light): 4.5 out of 5
  • Texture (low light): 3.0 out of 5
  • Noise (bright light): 3.5 out of 5
  • Noise (low light) 2.0 out of 5
Bright light sample shot
 100% crop shows a lot of fine detail
 Low light (20 Lux) studio shot
Good detail preservation but a lot of luminance noise.
In low tungsten light crops show good detail but are blighted by high luminance noise levels.

Artifacts

Phone cameras, like entry-level compact cameras, tend to suffer from artifacts such as sharpening halos, color fringing, vignetting (shading) and distortion, which can impact on the visual appeal of the end result. DxOMark engineers measure and analyse a range of artifacts. Their findings after testing the Blackberry Z10 are shown below:

Pros:

  • n/a

Cons 

  • Slight loss of sharpness in image corners
  • Strong color fringing
  • Slight ringing

Perceptual scores

  • Sharpness 4.0 out of 5
  • Color fringing 4.0 out of 5

Measured findings

  • Ringing center: 14.1%
  • Ringing corner 6.1%
  • Max geometric distortion -0.29%
  • Luminance shading 26%

Distortion and Chromatic Aberrations

The graph shows the magnification from center to edge (with the center normalized to 1). The Blackberry Z10 shows a slight complex distortion which you are not going to notice this in normal photography.
Lateral chromatic abberations minimal; chromatic abberation this small are not seen by most observers.

Autofocus

DxOMark also tests autofocus accuracy and reliability by measuring how much the accutance -- sharpness -- varies with each shot over a series of 30 exposures (defocusing then using the autofocus for each one). As with other tests these results are dependant on the viewing conditions (a little bit out of focus matters a lot less with a small web image than a full 8MP shot viewed at 100%). Using the 8MP equivalent condition the Blackberry Z10 results are decent but not quite up there with the very best. The overall score is 75/100 in bright light and 64/100 in low light.

Pros: 

  • Autofocus is accurate and repeatable in bright light conditions
  • Good sharpness levels even in low light

Cons: 

  • Autofocus is slow
 Autofocus repeatability - average acutance difference with best focus: low light 5.0%, bright light 6.5%

Flash

DxOMark scored the Blackberry Z10 62/100 overall for its flash performance, deducting points for occasional white balance issues in mixed light.

Pros: 

  • Good detail preservation, exposure and color rendering
  • Stable autofocus with flash

Cons: 

  • Strong noise
  • White balance is slightly blue with no light and turns red when flash is mixed with tungsten lighting
  • Color shading when mixed with tungsten light source

Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Photo: 67 / 100


Video Capture

DxOMark engineers put phone cameras through a similarly grueling set of video tests, and you can read their full findings on the DxOMark website here. We'll simply summarize for you. DxOMark found the Blackberry Z10's exposure and color reproduction to be good. However, the white balance is unreliable in tungsten light and image stabilization performance is under par.

Pros: 

  • Reactive autofocus with some tracking abilities

Cons: 

  • Visible color non uniformities
  • Perfectible texture reproduction
  • Perfectible video stabilization

Overall DxOMark Mobile score for Video: 66 / 100


Comments

Total comments: 16
Sergey Borachev

How about a review of a phone that is a lot more interesting and more powerful - Samsung Note 2?

Comment edited 57 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Lars Rehm

Funny you mention this...I recommend you keep an eye on the site tomorrow (or maybe on Friday as well, depending on how things go..) :-)

2 upvotes
MistyFog

Z10 has higher score than the Lumia 920? Seriously? I've seen many comparisons with the total opposite outcome. Rather than simply quoting from other sources, does DPReview actually support the conclusion that the Z10 has the better camera?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm

We haven't tested the phone yet but will do. This report is purely based on DxO's test results.

1 upvote
Timmbits

Who wants a camera, and then goes out and buys a phone instead?

The purchasing process goes like this: need a new phone; how much does it cost (for the majority), what does it do (OS, apps), what's the screen like and the battery life, and is the camera OK - but if it's not, it won't be a deal-breaker (I have a camera for that - the phone is just for emergencies when I don't have a camera handy, goes the logic).

It's funny how we're getting all scientific and stuff about what is pretty much a toy-quality camera feature that is crappy compared to a larger camera.

5 upvotes
JadedGamer

Photography is composition and exposure, everything else is a bonus.

Except being an elitist bunghole.

3 upvotes
Stu 5

No the quality is not as good as a DSLR but the difference is the phones camera is with you all the time. There are also photo agencies that will pay good money for photos taken on 5 plus mega pixel phone cameras hence why professional photographers are earning money with them when they are about and about. You can take a mobile phone camera into places where it would be too dangerous to go in with a standard camera, ie a riot and come out with photos you can sell.

There are plenty of photographers out there who own DSLR's but also want to make sure their mobile phone has a good camera built in. They find these reviews and write ups useful.

3 upvotes
Arsen

As Z10 Owner, I can tell you that the photos are just above average.. But as a phone is trully impessive and powerful mobile device. The speed, multi-tasking, the Hub the browser is what makes this phone stand out. When you first pick it up, you think its an Iphone, but after 3 days of use and figure out all the advanced features, you appreaciate what a great OS they have created. Many blackberry users don't buy it for the photo capabilites, they buy it because its a business phone. Nothing can replace an SLR camera.. nice little point and shoot for sharing on the Social media is perfectly fine.

2 upvotes
Hobbit13

I'm actually pretty impressed by the results of the camera of the Z10. BB never stated that the camera in this phone would be very special, never the less, it can keep up with for example the Lumia 920. Nokia filled hours of presentations on how fantastic the pictures of the 920 would be.

Used the Z10 for a while, on a fair a few days back, and it reminded me of the Nokia N9 in terms of interface. Which is a good thing!!

1 upvote
Cartagena Photo

Blackberry have never been a leader in the smartphone segment here in Europe. They are virtually non existent here in Denmark.

0 upvotes
Peiasdf

While the market share says otherwise, I think BB is a distance 4th behind Apple, Android and Windows.

0 upvotes
wy2lam

I think Windows phones still, rightfully, holds the distant last place.

0 upvotes
MikeFairbanks

Cool phone. Looks like something Apple invented.

0 upvotes
raimaster

have seen some great photos taken with BB Z10 http://jtinseoul.wordpress.com/ - anyway its the test before or after software updated? some said after the update the low light performance is better.

1 upvote
johneds

Agree. My iPhone friends thought my Z10 pictures were from a DSLR.

0 upvotes
CameraLabTester

Tst Tsk Tsk...

Phones now being rated as camera gear and not as... phones!

Blackblurry has to come up with some really over and above features just to try to grab attention... right now, people still remember their ugly keyboard riddled contraptions...

.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 16
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