10: Conclusion and GalleryNext
BlackBerry's back: Z10 camera review
Peter M Ferenczi | Published: Apr 19, 2013 at 22:41 UTC26
Conclusion - The Good
Conclusion - The Bad
The Z10 is BlackBerry’s first shot in what it hopes will be a glorious comeback campaign. The phone looks and feels the part. Its solid build quality translates into a phone with decent photographic ergonomics, though a two-stage shutter button would seal the deal. The sharp, bright screen remains visible in bright sun and looks very good when composing or reviewing photos.
The Z10’s camera performance is a mixed bag. A responsive and well-designed native camera app manages to feel more like a camera and less like an app than a lot of the competition, despite the fact that the autofocus isn’t particularly snappy. Image quality is quite good, with decent fine detail, in good light thanks to the Z10’s relaxed approach to noise reduction. However, when the lights go down, so does image quality, albeit in an uneven way. At its best, the Z10 turns in a high ISO performance that includes a lot of noise with a tight, filmic grain that certainly obscures detail but can be less offensive than the aggressively smeary noise reduction of some competitors. But at its worst, images can be marred by banding noise that’s visible at screen resolutions and can emerge at relatively low ISOs in shadow areas of the frame.
The Z10 has a few tricks up its sleeve: a decent burst mode, the handy Time Shift, the flexible editor in the gallery app, and the Story Maker montage app. But it’s missing some important features that are becoming standard: no panorama, HDR, or face recognition out of the box, for example. For Android and iOS phones, there are hordes of third-party solutions that could take up the slack. But BlackBerry 10 is a brand new operating system, and despite the company’s efforts to lure developers, photo-centric apps (both for capture and processing) are thin on the ground. It’s not clear that that’ll change anytime soon, especially with Windows Phone trying to establish itself as the fresh platform to challenge iOS and Android in the imaging area.
The Z10’s camera is perfectly capable of pulling its weight on this new flagship device, and is unlikely to disappoint the BlackBerry faithful. But if photographic quality and flexibility are priorities and you’re not particularly invested in the BlackBerry platform, it’s hard to justify buying the Z10 over a number of iOS or Android handsets with similar or better imaging performance and a much richer photographic ecosystems.
The Final Word
The BlackBerry Z10 is a solid phone with a photographic experience that’s impressive in some respects and flawed in others. Mobile photographers committed to the BlackBerry platform will find its camera satisfying, but for others the Z10’s photographic foibles and sparse imaging app ecosystem don’t really add up.
There are 23 images in our Blackberry Z10 samples gallery. Please do not reproduce any of these images on a website or any newsletter / magazine without prior permission (see our copyright page). We make the originals available for private users to download to their own machines for personal examination or printing (in conjunction with this review), we do so in good faith, please don't abuse it.
Unless otherwise noted images taken with no particular settings at full resolution.