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DxOMark Mobile Report: Blackberry Z10

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: 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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