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Conclusion - The Good

  • Captures good detail in all light situations
  • Well-designed, responsive camera app
  • Very sharp, bright screen
  • Accurate autofocus
  • Comprehensive editing options
  • Decent ergonomics
  • Interesting Time-Shift and Story maker features

Conclusion - The Bad

  • Noise banding in some light situations
  • Low maximum ISO can cause underexposure
  • Lacks integration of HDR, panorama, or face recognition
  • No exposure compensation (but exposure linked to focus point)
  • No manual ISO or White Balance
  • No filter or effect options in camera app
  • No optical image stabilization
  • Poor imaging app selection
  • Very few customization options
  • Occasional lock-up of the camera app

Overall Conclusion

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.

DXOMark Mobile Score
67

DXOMark Image Quality Assessment

The Blackberry Z10 achieves a DxO Mark score of 67 which means it is very slightly ahead of the HTC 8X and Nokia Lumia 920 but trailing  behind the iPhones 4s and 5 and the Samsung devices Galaxy S3 and Note II in DxO's list of the best smartphone cameras.

Image results show good detail in all light conditions, with good color in natural light. Auto exposure, autofocus and white balance work generally well. In low light the BlackBerry output suffers from strong luminance noise and color casts in tungsten lighting. White balance is struggling when using the flash.

In video mode, the Z10's autofocus performs well but the footage shows "visible color non-uniformities" and "perfectible texture reproduction". DxO also found the video image stabilization to be inefficient. For a more detailed analysis, visit www.dxomark.com.

Photo Mobile Score 67   Video Mobile Score 66
Exposure and Contrast 81   Exposure and Contrast 87
Color 73   Color 76
Autofocus 70   Autofocus 64
Texture 72   Texture 64
Noise 39   Noise 67
Photo Artifacts 77   Video Artifacts 85
Flash 62   Stabilization 18
6.9

Summary

The BlackBerry Z10 imaging engine chooses detail over noise reduction, which serves it well in bright light and dimmer conditions alike but banding artifacts can also crash the party. The camera UI design is a model others should follow, though it could offer a bit more manual control. A lack of features (no HDR, panorama, or face detection) is aggravated by a thin app ecosystem with few alternatives to the native offerings. Committed BlackBerry users can overlook the Z10’s imaging limitations, but OS-agnostic mobile photographers are likely better served by the best handsets on other platforms.

Sample Gallery

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. 

BlackBerry Z10 Sample Gallery
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Comments

Total comments: 26
write2alan
By write2alan (1 month ago)

I just picked up a new Z10 for $200 CAD with no strings attached and very impressed with the phone and its features. The camera is decent. The newest updated OS (Blackberry is Linux based) can run most Android apps. LOL....
Mr. Chen did listen and he should have done this years ago! Maybe Google didn't let them make their phones Android compatible at the time.

0 upvotes
eveningaccessories
By eveningaccessories (Apr 25, 2013)

I definitely like the camera shortcut. Who wants to fumble around when you're anxious to take a picture. My current camera delays until the focus is correct so I think that is good in a phone also. Limited options are good for me. Too many and I can't remember what's what.

0 upvotes
eveningaccessories
By eveningaccessories (Apr 25, 2013)

You've given a good description of the Blackberry. It looks very sleek, comfortable and functional. I would certainly consider buying one.

0 upvotes
eveningaccessories
By eveningaccessories (Apr 25, 2013)

Thank you for this review. Blackberry has always been through of as a serious phone but I guess lately has become less popular. Its good to see them get back in the running. A good camera should help.

0 upvotes
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (Apr 22, 2013)

I'd like to amend the now famous maxim that "the best camera you own is the one you have with you" to read "the best camera...except those built into cellphones."

3 upvotes
T3
By T3 (Apr 22, 2013)

Plenty of people are taking great pictures with phone cameras these days. The maxim still holds true. Just take a look at the various Flickr iPhone photo galleries:

http://www.flickr.com/groups/throughthelensofaniphone/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lumixm43/8655228068/

I've seen far worse photography done with much more advanced DSLRs.

1 upvote
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (Apr 22, 2013)

Not convinced.

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (Apr 22, 2013)

@Tom Goodman, you're not convinced because you're probably one of those crazy pixel peepers who can't enjoy a photo unless you're scrutinizing it at 100% magnification in Photoshop! Hahaha. Well, hate to break it to you, but out in the REAL world, people don't look at photos that way. Ultimately, today more than ever, the actual image is far more important than the device you used to capture the image. That's what photography is really about-- the photo, not the device. But alas, there are people like you who just don't get it, and think photography is more about the equipment than the actual photo.

2 upvotes
Tom Goodman
By Tom Goodman (Apr 22, 2013)

You are wrong on every count. Indeed, cellphone camera zealots like yourself are the ones who believe equipment is all. Throwing around phrases like "pixel peeper" reveals your true orientation. I have never used it myself. Throwing around assertions about what "photography is really about" only reveals your own insecurities...or hubris!

1 upvote
Eric Hensel
By Eric Hensel (Apr 23, 2013)

The problem is, Tom, whether or not your original post is correct --it's irrelevant

1 upvote
T3
By T3 (Apr 23, 2013)

Tom, I'll say it again: it's about the photos. I could care less about what someone uses to create a photo. I use Canon FF and APS-C DSLR bodies, an Oly m4/3, various compact P&S cameras, and yes, a smartphone camera, too. Doesn't matter, I've gotten wonderful, memorable, cherished photos from all of them. Like I said, it's about the photos, not the device. Open up your mind. Sadly, narrow minds have narrow ideas, hence your comment that I am a cellphone camera "zealot"! Haha. Yes, someone who says that it's about the photos, not the device, is a cellphone camera "zealot". Hahaha! Absurd.

I stand by my assertion that "the best camera is the one you have with you" still holds truer than ever. But only a device "zealot" would say something like "...except those built into cellphones"...especially in the face of evidence to the contrary:

http://www.mobilephotoawards.com/slideshow.php

The pictures say it all.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Anepo
By Anepo (May 31, 2013)

If you plan on repeating chase jarvis's famous line, then please at least get it f*****g right!

0 upvotes
tompabes2
By tompabes2 (Apr 22, 2013)

Daylight images are very good for a smartphone! More or less same quality as the best smartphones (iPhone 5 and GS3/4).
In low light, that's another story... at the moment only smartphones with optical stabilizer (the 920 and the HTC One) can deliver decent results (but the 920 has serious problems in daylight...).

0 upvotes
mr_landscape
By mr_landscape (Apr 22, 2013)

I do not understand dpreview team! For what sake they review mobile phones with crippled camera abilities? There are MANY dedicated cameras and lenses that completely out of the coverage.

2 upvotes
nima66999
By nima66999 (Apr 22, 2013)

tnx

0 upvotes
andreas2
By andreas2 (Apr 22, 2013)

I bought a camera and all I got is this phone.

0 upvotes
captura
By captura (Apr 21, 2013)

BB has indicated that the OS from the 10 will be going into their Playbook tablet, eventually. Those of us who have a Playbook would like to know when.

0 upvotes
knize10
By knize10 (Apr 21, 2013)

Tomorrow's junk.

5 upvotes
andreas2
By andreas2 (Apr 22, 2013)

Include every piece of electronic equipment you have ever bought.

2 upvotes
raimaster
By raimaster (Apr 21, 2013)

Ouch do you use Z10 from Verizon for this test?? its bad, really bad because it has the oldest OS. Try the newer ones from AT&T or Canada carrier or event download the latest OS. There is many improvement, Yes, Z10 has HDR mode, it has also stabilization shooting mode (my fave mode), - check it out nice shot by Z10:
http://jtinseoul.wordpress.com/

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Apr 21, 2013)

It's got a stabilization mode but not optical stabilization which is a big difference. Once an update is available we will have a look at that HDR mode.

4 upvotes
raimaster
By raimaster (Apr 21, 2013)

Firstly i really want to know which OS version dpr team use for this test? Second, its bit too early to make a test because new OS 10.1 just leaked yesterday (you can download it) add. new feature such as HDR and camera improvement even better. Do you want to re-shots again after upgrading the OS? I have Z10 and i think its not below the other smartphone on market today. Few camera application is really good.
BB z10 + app UberIris http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51247925

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (Apr 22, 2013)

If we'd always wait for firmware updates we'd never get anything tested. The device is available in the shops, people need to make buying decisions with the current firmware and that's what we are testing with, not something that "got leaked" today.

3 upvotes
dpLarry
By dpLarry (Apr 22, 2013)

True. That's why the camera reviews are alot faster now.

2 upvotes
raimaster
By raimaster (Apr 22, 2013)

Oh no way, once you buy from another carriers today (except Verizon) the newer OS is already there to download. Published since last month i guess. Why it is important? because you will have Z10 with overall much better performance and slightly better in low light shooting.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
RC
By RC (Apr 22, 2013)

You are talking beta firmware (or is it even alpha?) and I am pretty sure that DPR used the latest standard firmware for their test, which would be a V 10.0.xx firmware. I have the Z10 and I also own the iPhone 5, Galaxy Note II and the latest HTC One and the Z10 has by far the worst camera. It isn't bad for snapshots, not at all but comparing it to the mentioned other phones I own, it lacks a lot of quality. DPR is right and you cannot expect DPR to test an alpha/beta build or even wait for the "next big" firmware update. This is ridiculous. Btw: My Z10 has the latest 10.0.10.99 (Vodafone) firmware.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 26
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