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Features

The HTC One had arguably the best imaging feature set of any smartphone when it was announced in 2013 and with its Duo Cam and related features the new M8 has even more to offer. The M8 comes with an abundance of features and pre-installed apps and you could literally spend days exploring and experimenting with the phone's imaging features alone.

In this section we are concentrating on the M8's new Duo Cam and other imaging features that are most useful and often used by mobile photographers. Many of the original One's imaging features have not changed on the One M8 and are still available on the new model. This includes the Zoe Camera and its Object Removal, Always Smile and Sequence Shot modes. The Highlight Movies, Night Mode, Backlight Mode, effect filters and image adjustments all were available on the predecessor as well. We have covered all of those features comprehensively in the features section of our HTC One review.

Duo Cam Features

The HTC One M8 is loaded with HTC-specific apps but the most talked about feature at its launch was the Duo Camera. The M8 comes with the original One's 4MP "Ultrapixel" sensor but in addition has a lower-resolution secondary camera that is not capturing image but depth information. This means the camera has some idea of the distance of objects from the lens. There are a number of new features that then use this information, for example to apply blur or a filter effect to the background.

None of the Duo Cam features are applied at capture. As long as you don't cover the secondary cam with your finger depth information is saved in the image file and the Ufocus, Foregrounder, Seasons and Dimension Plus effects can be applied in the gallery app. It's worth mentioning that the Duo Cam Features are not available when shooting in Macro Mode.

Ufocus

Ufocus lets you set the focus point by tapping on the screen, and then blurs those parts of the frame that are not in the focus plane. The idea is to isolate the subject of an image in the same way as you would do when shooting a portrait with a large-sensor camera and a large aperture.

Unfortunately this only works in a limited way. In the samples below we can see that Ufocus is indeed isolating the subject by blurring the background but can't do so in a way that makes the end result look like the real thing. Zooming in you'll see that the mode can't mimic the smooth blur fall-off you'd get from a DSLR and fast lens. Things are either sharp or totally blurred, there is no middle ground. In the first sample below the front of the subjects face is in focus but the sides of the head, ears and neck are already blurred to the same degree as the background. 

The second sample was taken at the same time and place, with the same lens to subject distance, yet the result is noticeably better. The background is less blurred and the entire head of the subject is in focus, making the image look more realistic. That said, there still is no sharpness fall-off and looking at the edges of the foreground subject it's obvious that foreground/background separation is far from perfect. 

Ufocus sample 1: No blur
Ufocus sample 1: Focus on person
Ufocus sample 2: No blur
Ufocus sample 2: Focus on person

Similar problems can be observed in sample number three below. The blur factor goes from 0 to 100 percent without any intermediate steps. In this image this is most noticeable on the leaf-covered ground. Again Ufocus is struggling to isolate the subject in a precise way in this image. Small background areas around the subject are still in focus. The same effect is visible on the plant in the foreground to the left.

Ufocus sample 3: No blur
Focus on person
Ufocus sample 4: Focus on bicycle
Focus on background

When taking pictures of a more complex shaped object Ufocus finds it even harder to separate foreground and background. This can be clearly seen in the background areas that are enclosed by the bicycle frame and wheels in sample number 4. The app gets confused and doesn't seem to have any idea of which part of the bike belongs to the foreground and which to the background of the image.

In its current state the performance of the Ufocus feature is a little disappointing and nowhere near the smooth sharpness transition you would get from shooting with a DSLR and fast lens. The center focus functions in apps like Snapseed or Pixlr are not any more realistic than Ufocus but achieve more pleasant results. The Lens Blur effect in Google's new camera app appears to do a better job, too, without the need for a secondary camera. We'll have to wait and see if HTC can improve the system's performance with a software update.

Foregrounder

Foregrounder is another function that uses the secondary camera's depth information but instead of blurring the background (or foreground) it applies one of four filter effects. Whether you like those effects is a matter of taste but Foregrounder suffers from the same problem as Ufocus: the foreground/background separation is not very precise and you end up with filter effects on areas of your image where you don't necessarily want them.

Foregrounder lets you apply one of four filter effects to the fore- or background of a photo.

The first sample is the same portrait as above. We've applied the Sketch filter to both fore- and background and as you can see there is some "filter bleed" going on as the app has not been able to precisely isolate the foreground.

For the second sample we focused on the monument on the market square and then applied Zoom Blur to the background which works pretty well in this case. the Foregrounder effects are fun to play and experiment with but the novelty factor wears off pretty quickly.  

Sketch filter on background
Sketch filter on foreground
No filter
Zoom Blur filter on background

Seasons

Seasons adds a zooming/panning effect and a season themed animation to your images and modifies color and tones which, to a degree, lets you turn a summer scene into a winter wonderland or simply add an extra element to an otherwise not very interesting scene. You can save either a still image or a 5-second 720p video. The latter is definitely the better option if you want to show off what Seasons can do. 

Adequately the Seasons offers four effects, one for each season.  

At approximately 13MB per video you probably should go easy on your Season captures but if you're running out of memory you can always switch to still images. The effect is kind of entertaining when you try it the first time but we suspect it'll be sparsely used after a few initial sessions. As with some of the other Duo Cam features the novelty factor rubs off pretty quickly. The video below shows the Maple Leaf effect.

Dimension Plus

In Dimensions Plus mode you can slightly change the angle of view on an image by tilting the phone left, right, up or down. You can save a still frame or a Dimensions Plus file. Unfortunately the latter can only be viewed on your device.

As you can see in the samples below the effect slightly crops the original image and is overall fairly subtle. Objects that are close to the lens can also end up distorted. Admittedly Dimensions Plus is more impressive when viewed on the phone screen but still, it's arguably a feature that most users can easily live without.

Original Image
Left tilt
Right tilt

Comments

Total comments: 53
Bilgy_no1
By Bilgy_no1 (2 months ago)

The 'UltraPixel' marketing would have had some credibility if the sensor was bigger than the usual 1/3" size. Theoretically, it's better to use more pixels and downsample in low light. At least in good light, you'd have more detail. Nokia's approach (now copied by Sony) is the way to go.

In general, exposure and colour is pretty good, so in good light you're left with some nice looking shots, on screen. But when you zoom in just a bit, the detail falls apart quickly.

Apart from IQ, my biggest gripe is with the operational speed of the One M8. When viewing a photo full screen, you tap the screen to display the options: they slowly slide into view from the bottom. It almost takes a second before the second row (Back, Home, App Switcher) buttons are available. The Back button is needed to get back to shooting mode, so it's a pain to wait for it to show up. The processor is fast enough to display this immediately, so the animation is useless and annoying.

0 upvotes
hrhken
By hrhken (4 months ago)

I have the HTC ONE M8 after owning th M7. Two weeks of use, indoors and out. As a point and shoot, the M8 took a small step backwards, HOWEVER< Using THE FULL FEATURE SET, I can get better results than the M7 if not in auto mode. I am starting to like the M8 camera, a bit more.

0 upvotes
Lukemynick
By Lukemynick (4 months ago)

Thank you for the great review.
So the score has actually gone down from 7.5 IIRC to 7.1. What gives? I was hoping for improvement, not regression, so... no-go.

Btw HTC opt for conventional 13MP sensor for their One Mini 2, Desire 816, and even One Ace. As such I beg Connect to review any one of those.

Please do, and thank you again.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (4 months ago)

Just like with our cameras reviews we'd expect slightly better performance form a new model to get the same score as an older one.

0 upvotes
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (4 months ago)

Remind me why these phone reviews appear on the front page of DPReview. Were the readers of that site interested, they would be watching this one.

1 upvote
tkbslc
By tkbslc (4 months ago)

Got you to click, didn't it? That's why.

2 upvotes
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (4 months ago)

Clicked to complain, not to read.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (4 months ago)

Well, it wasn't written for you then but the people who are interested in phone camera reviews. There quite a few of those.

3 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (4 months ago)

Angry clicks and happy clicks get the same number of ad views....

2 upvotes
Denis of Whidbey Island
By Denis of Whidbey Island (3 months ago)

This is not entirely dissimilar to saying that it's fine to put links to TV reviews on the DPReview home page because some people who read DPReview are also interested in televisions. Really, what percentage of DPReview readers go to that site to find phone camera reviews?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (3 months ago)

Nobody is interested in everything. Some people look at DSLR reviews, some at compact reviews, some at lens reviews and, believe me, an increasing number is looking at smartphone camera reviews. There would not be much point in doing them otherwise.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (3 months ago)

Can you take pictures with TVs? What kind of a dumb analogy is that? Phones have ever improving cameras in them which allows you to use them as a photographic tool. A Camera review of a TV would be 0 pages.

1 upvote
Daniel L
By Daniel L (4 months ago)

Had the last HTC one, which died while charging after one year of use. I would not touch any electronic devices that carries HTC brand. That phone was nothing but trouble from software to hardware, I have never experienced so much disappointment in an electronic device before.

Just replaced the dead fish last week with Galaxy s5 because The big iPhone is no yet next available!

....and DON'T BUY INTO 4MP image resolution crap. It's stupid. Who cares about better image quality on cell phone if you can't zoom enlough? I want to be able to zoom in images, read prints i can't tell from naked eyes, or similar purposes where cell phones picture are good for. I don't plan to do studio works with them. 4MP camera is as good as crap.

0 upvotes
LauP
By LauP (4 months ago)

>I have never experienced so much disappointment in an electronic device before.

While I agree with you on a relatively poor camera, I think you'd find very few people who agree with the rest of your assessment.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (4 months ago)

Well, I liked both the original One and the M8 very much for their phone/mobile computing capability. the're also both very nicely made. the camera is really the only point of criticism. Unfortunately, if you like taking pictures with your phone it is a very major one.

0 upvotes
Interceptorv12
By Interceptorv12 (4 months ago)

My work colleague had Galaxy S3 started smoking while on charge and eventually expired, so by your logic people should stay away from Samsung as well.

0 upvotes
Daniel L
By Daniel L (3 months ago)

@interceptorv12
No, why stay away from Samcrap? You should avoid Androids junk at all cost!

0 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (4 months ago)

I was showing interest in this phone, and then the camera results came rolling in from the web.

0 upvotes
joe6pack
By joe6pack (4 months ago)

If there is one thing that HTC has helped the photography community, it is that HTC debunked the myth of using less pixels but keeping sensor size unchanged results in better picture.

I have to admit that I was a believer. I have converted after seeing HTC One's samples.

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

They didn't really debunk anything, it's always been a balance, go too far in either direction without increasing efficiency (too many pixels for the sensor size OR too few) and you end up with something that suffers by comparison, not a shocker.

0 upvotes
MistyFog
By MistyFog (4 months ago)

Many people have already known this to be a fallacy. I've been trying (unsuccessfully) to warn people not to fall for this scam but to no avail. There are many, who in reality are totally clueless about photography, yet think themselves as smart and sophisticated when they parrot HTC's marketing talk.

The only thing this sad episode really proved, is how totally clueless HTC's imaging team really is. Like I've always said, they're a bunch of salespeople wearing lab coats.

0 upvotes
Becksvart
By Becksvart (4 months ago)

Thones phones and their lattes.

0 upvotes
Tonkotsu Ramen
By Tonkotsu Ramen (4 months ago)

cell phone cameras have come a long way, but HTC seems to want to stay in the past. They'll be rewarded with low sales. Hope they take the next gen more serious.

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (4 months ago)

I guess "low sales" based on camera quality will depend on how many people buy phones with that as the primary criterion.

0 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (4 months ago)

Pretty weak camera quality for a flagship phone. Looks like they went to a new camera module for the newest HTC One Mini 2, so maybe they are wising up.

1 upvote
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (4 months ago)

Having a separate depth sensor means there are alignment issues, which are not helped by lower resolution. It would be interesting to see if the depth sensor could be used to stitch actual 3D models more accurately, but the simulated DoF effect looks too crude to be of much use -- at least for now. Obviously, shallow DoF "like professional cameras give" is what every tiny camera wants to fake this year....

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

They already released a phone with dual cameras for 3D, and a 3D display, and it actually worked... But nobody really cares about recording 3D content or watching it on such a small screen, at least that concept flopped quicker.

0 upvotes
ProfHankD
By ProfHankD (4 months ago)

No, I'm not talking stereo pairs or single-view depth maps -- I'm talking about stitching true 3D solid models, like we use to drive 3D printers. There's a lot of tech for this, but I suspect there would be a healthy niche market for a phone directly spitting-out a printable model.

0 upvotes
Jogger
By Jogger (4 months ago)

The depth sensor is a stupid gimmick and doesnt work well. They should just put a 2/3 or larger sensor in there with a decent lens.

0 upvotes
BradJudy
By BradJudy (4 months ago)

I think the issue that you've demonstrated with Ufocus is because the depth measurement is so much lower resolution than the actual photograph, not capturing small objects like the bicycle parts or doing a good job detecting exact edges. Because the Google app uses motion/parallax with the main camera sensor to identify depth, it's at the same resolution as the image and can (in theory) do a better job in these aspects.

0 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

In practice both produce poor results by overdoing the effect, introducing artifacts, errors in edge stitching etc. I wasn't very impressed with it on my N5 anyway, haven't tried it again since initial testing. LG's more subtle effect seemed to work better during a comparison I saw but it wasn't very comprehensive.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (4 months ago)

Another no-go. My Nokia 808 won't be beaten in IQ for another year for sure.

Unless Samsung or Sony comes out with a large-sensor, thick cameraphone with a prime, wideangle, bright lens. Samsung have released three small-sensor zoom/"Kamera" models (pretty good ones for a zoom camera but, at the same FoV, can't rival IQ-wise the large-sensor prime-lens 808); hopefully they also release a large-sensor fixed-FoV lens one as well.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

I don't see Samsung releasing a fixed FL anything outside of phones, zooms appeal to the masses and Samsung's all about mass appeal. I'd really like to see Sony take the QX concept to it's logical evolution and release a couple of prime editions, or at least one at 35mm with the 1" sensor...

It would HAVE to be significantly smaller than the two existing models, maybe even as small as something as a Panasonic 20/1.7... That'd be eminently pocketable and a MUCH better alternative than a smaller sensor P&S or phone. It makes sooo much sense, just gotta market it right. It's not like the concept of selling zoom to smartphone users really caught fire (existing QX).

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (4 months ago)

"I don't see Samsung releasing a fixed FL anything outside of phones, zooms appeal to the masses and Samsung's all about mass appeal."

Well, when done right (significantly better IQ than the 808, OIS, 4K video, brighter lens etc.), such a model would make almost all existing Nokia 808 / 1020 users not happy with the ecosystem / the OS / the phone's allowed-for capabilities (e.g., phone call recording) switch. (I'd say there are millions of them.) I'd too switch to a high-end Android if and only if the camera would be comparable to that of my Nokia 808.

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

Wow, you really think there are a million 808 users out there? Like actively using it as their daily driver? Seems far fetched, but even if there are, that's a very niche market. Samsung probably sells a million SGS5 just during launch week, pretty sure I remember seeing something about the SGS4 selling a million in under two weeks anyway.

Point is, few OEM (not even HTC) would build a phone hoping for a million sales at most. Frankly I don't see why you'd suffer thru the 808 just for the camera, I'd much rather just carry two devices but that's just me. Is Nokia's current Lumia THAT far behind the 808 that you'd give up the app ecosystem and everything else on a modern phone just for the better camera?

I think the modular approach is reasonable for people that want a truly great camera on their phone (rather than two devices), somebody just needs to chase the concept further. Phones aren't gonna go back to 12-15 mm form factors anytime soon.

0 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (4 months ago)

"Wow, you really think there are a million 808 users out there? "

Nope, it was the cumulative number of the 808 and the 1020. (See my OP.) I'm certainly aware of the 808's only selling some hundreds of thousands - after all, it wasn't advertised at all and was only really targeted at camera and Symbian enthusiasts, not the Average Joes.

1 upvote
webrunner5
By webrunner5 (4 months ago)

Thanks for the review. Yep, this phone looks pretty terrible camera wise. Not sure how you can beta test it and say yeah, lets release it the way it is??

As to the people on here that complain about every cellphone review. If you don't like them why are you even reading the review, or even commenting?

You guys NEED to wise up. This is not 1995, it's 2014. Cameras as we knew them are a dying breed. Hardly any young person prints anything anymore.

I have taken some pretty darn good pictures with my phones. Can I make a 20x30 print with them, no. Do I need to or want to no. My children and grandchildren see them just fine in emails I send them, and in return I get shots of them from their cellphones. What else you want, a picture from a 80mp MF back you are going to look at on your computer screen at 100??

I am not suggesting you throw away your cameras. I still own a LOT of them. But the average young person probably does not even OWN a real camera anymore.

Comment edited 9 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Philip Goh
By Philip Goh (4 months ago)

I would be interested in seeing how the HTC One M8's camera stacked up against the Moto G. We'd be comparing a phone from the top end of the market with a phone from the bottom end.

The Moto G gets a lot of flak for its poor camera, but looking at the samples above I don't think it's much worse than the HTC One M8. A review comparing these phones side by side will be very interesting.

0 upvotes
Robemo
By Robemo (4 months ago)

Never understood these 'camera-phone' reviews. I don't know anyone who is serious about photography that uses a phone. I do know a lot of people using their phone for taking 'social events' pictures and then sending them to friends. They don't give a hoot about 'ultimate' quality images. It's about sharing a very basic image. Most of the time the images stay in the phone until memory runs out (and then they come to me ...'Help, my camera is not working anymore !'). If they ever print such an image, which they seldom do, it will be postcard size. The images in this review of the M8 look good enough for that for sure. Make these reviews more realistic by aiming at how almost everyone uses their phone and not by reviewing it for the rare geek that uses their camera phone like a Hasselblad.

Ron

4 upvotes
majicmoments
By majicmoments (4 months ago)

I totally agree.. DPR is churning out these darn things like a production line.. Good people at DPR, this site is viewed by photographers of all abilities.. please do more interesting things with cameras..as well as your decent reviews. If you are going to show us the latest phone or gizmo, then take a hint at what Ron suggests.. to give it meaning in our photography.. Azmi

1 upvote
Impulses
By Impulses (4 months ago)

So they shouldn't compare IQ at all? Even if the majority of users will not do anything with the shots but post them to FB that doesn't mean they don't give a hoot about IQ... You do realize displays are getting better and better all the time on tablets, laptops and even TVs no? 1080p (2MP) is like the minimum people will accept across those devices now and they WILL pinch and zoom and often look at pictures in more detail than any "serious photographer" would while printing.

Frankly I don't much care about the camera on my phone because I won't use it for anything critical or memorable, I have other cameras, but for PLENTY of people now their phone is their SOLE camera and it'll be called to capture everything from first born sons to weddings. Your snobbish attitude is wholly unnecessary, if you don't care for a technical review of a smartphone camera and just want a subjective by the seat of your pants comment then read any of the dozens of tech blogs.

1 upvote
Danny
By Danny (4 months ago)

People who are 'serious' about photography often take the worst boring images. Pixel peeping my @ss, it's not the camera, it's the person behind it.

4 upvotes
Menneisyys
By Menneisyys (4 months ago)

"I don't know anyone who is serious about photography that uses a phone."

Well, actually, the Nokia 808 can easily rival even DSLR's with decent ($1000+) lens used in their "sweet spot" (FoV and aperture combo) under small-sensor-friendly circumstances (low DR, plenty of light).

The 808 has an exceptionally good lens, corner-to-corner, and the sensor-lens combo is capable of some VERY serious detail retention. I just love mine.

2 upvotes
hydrospanner
By hydrospanner (4 months ago)

"I don't know anyone who is serious about photography that uses a phone."

Then go crawl back in your third world hole and quit posting here. Every one I know that knows a viewfinder from a lens mount carries a smart phone, and every one of those smart phones has a camera. For a photo enthusiast, the quality/capabilities of their camera's phone, while not everything, are a greater factor in their purchasing decisions than an average person, so reviews like this can help them get a phone that best balances their need for features and a (relative) quality camera.

Only an idiot would complain that a smart phone doesn't stack up against a dedicated camera. That's not at all the point. By that rationale, dpr should only review "full-frame" and larger sensors, because anything smaller is pointless.

2 upvotes
tkbslc
By tkbslc (4 months ago)

I used to say the same thing until I got a good camera phone. Now my phone is my most used camera and I only take my DSLR for planned portrait sessions or special destination landscape shots, etc.

1 upvote
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (4 months ago)

I am sorry this review is not of interest to you but there are a lot of people who do take pictures with their phones and who do care about the image quality of the cameras on those phones. Those are the people we target with these reviews.

2 upvotes
DrGonzoIsHere
By DrGonzoIsHere (4 months ago)

I don't understand people complaining about these reviews, I much prefer DPR do a camera phone review than any of the other tech sites. I often use my phone when my camera isn't at reach, so a camera phone I have with me all of the time is invaluable.

Anyhow, great review and a big dissapointment with the M8, I just hope HTC can stay afloat for another year, with a new look on their camera technology, as the current 'less is more' philosophy isn't working.

2 upvotes
Robemo
By Robemo (3 months ago)

As was to be expected lots of juvenile reactions and name calling.
But the facts are undeniable. Yes, the 808 is a wonderful machine (I have one), but no, it still does not come close to a camera (I have one too). If people are happy with their phone, good for them. Who cares, certainly not me.
But still these reviews are not completely fair and actually a bit misleading. Many if not most of the users of cameraphones will be completely happy with the results of the models that are reviewed here. While the reviews suggest huge differences, they are irrelevant to most. That is the reality I see all around me. Sorry Lars.

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (3 months ago)

Sorry to disagree. I would not recommend the One M8's camera to anyone, it's clearly worse than its direct competitors in most respects. If you are at all interested in the image quality that comes out of your smartphone you'll want to get something else which is why this review is very relevant. If you don't care about the IQ of your phone then of course it's not relevant to you and there's not much point in reading it.

1 upvote
Robemo
By Robemo (3 months ago)

You are entitled to your opinion as am I. A pitty that you, like some of the name callers here, try to make it a personal thing by trying to put words into my mouth. My remarks had nothing to do with whether I care for IQ of phones or not. It had to do with the fact that the reviews could be more helpful for more people. Positive criticism. Not a personal attack. But feel free to ignore it and cary on the way you do. No harm done and looking at some reactions you have a nice group of civilized followers ...

0 upvotes
hydrospanner
By hydrospanner (3 months ago)

Yeah, all except the fact that "your remarks" are based on your lack of perspective.

If you care so little about the subject, why keep commenting? Nobody here wants to know what you have to say after you've proven how ridiculous you are.

0 upvotes
Robemo
By Robemo (3 months ago)

Aahhh, I see. And you represent the average intellect in this forum I guess?

0 upvotes
Lars Rehm
By Lars Rehm (3 months ago)

Easy on the insults please or I will have to delete a few comments here. Where do you think is my review attacking anybody or anything on a personal level?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 53
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