Last Updated: Jul 20,2013
I wasn't referring to me seeing that I haven't had a one on one with it.
I know, but because we shared a healthy skepticism on it, I thought I'd chime that in for your consideration.
Honestly, I am surprised by the performance of it so far.
What I would love to see, that no review really seems to post either, are pics at night, with adequate to not so adequate lighting. Maybe a city skyline at night, or a lamp post. Something to that nature. Would anyone like to have a go at it?
I'd have to drive a piece to get those.
I just took a lackluster picture of the moon over the clouds and a vase outside lit by the porch light.
I don't think they're helpful, but here you go.
Problem with this is that with this little light, hand-shake will frequently be an issue that cannot be overcome without some kind of tripod or other way of immobilizing the phone for how long the exposure needs to be taken for--something that is the case with cameraphones all the way up to dSLRs.
If I do manage to shoot something like this, I'll post 'er up though.
Also, to really get good night time shots, you need to be able to control the shutter speed. Even on good dSLRs, metering is quite bad for nighttime shots.
Laws of physics still apply even with a good camera phone. If it's hard to get a non-grainy photo in low light on a dSLR, the same will apply to the camera on this phone. There's nothing magical about it.
Well in general the EVO is suppose to handle low light better, that's why I said those pictures would the best to see. From what I have seen, nothing has struck as amazing, except the panorama of the lake. Maybe it's because I currently have the GS2, which takes great shots as well, so the comparisons for me are pretty close.
The kind of testing scenario you want for this then is not a scene devoid of all light, but something with light but not tremendous amounts -- a challenging scenario would be something like a flashless shot in a restaurant.
In theory, you'd want something on the fringe of where any less with a smaller aperture than f2.0 would struggle and result in some camera shake and increased noise (from the higher ISO).
That's what I said,"Maybe a city skyline at night, or a lamp post." A restaurant would probably be good. or a club maybe. I'm thinking of over places...a neon sign, and street sign. A sidewalk with lamp posts, a candle-lit vigil. hahaha
Taken at night, handheld, HDR setting with all other settings normal.
Ah, figured it out while shooting with the camera.
The half shutter press, while having been confirmed to not do focus lock, actually still has a function: exposure lock.
Exposure lock is locking in the exposure metering (shutter speed, ISO, and aperture) for a particular scene.
To best see this, go to a window with sunlight coming in and half shutter press and hold the shot of outside. Then bring the camera back indoors with it held -- you should see the exposure not change (the screen will not get brighter or darker). Then if you let go, the exposure will quickly adjust to the indoor light again.
Edit: Wait I'm wrong... a half shutter press locks in focus in addition to exposure.... what were the reviews complaining about then?
The only complaint I heard about was that reviews stated/showed that pressing the camera button would open up the camera, but it isn't doing that.
It won't wake the phone from standby, but if the screen is on and unlocked, you can press and hold the shutter button to enter the camera app directly.
As for night shots, every night shot i've seen posted so far is underexposed. While they still look better than the earlier Evo cameras, I'll say it again: to get eye-popping night shots, you must be able to manually control shutter speed.
So I finally decided to do some extreme low-light testing. And since the camera has no option to manually set the shutter speed, I decided to see how it could do mounted on a tripod and set to the HDR mode, where at least the shutter speed will be much slower for one of the frames.
This first shot is of a neighbor's house, camera on full auto and flash turned off (flash is useless here because the subject is way too far away). Clearly underexposed, as you cannot see anything:
Next shot is of the exact same scene (phone is on tripod, so it's not moving), except this time, I set the camera to HDR mode. Came out better, but still way underexposed:
As is typical with nighttime photography, the on-screen display is useless because it's just showing black, but from the previous picture, I could see that I was pointing the camera way too low. Most of the pic is of the lawn. So I angled the view up until the sodium lamp came into view. Somehow with this information, the HDR software did a much better job with the exposures, but the result was super grainy:
Finally, I decided to do some motion blur and waited for a car to drive by. Same settings as before: no flash, HDR, everything else default. The car's headlights provided decent light to surrounding objects, so this photo came out better than the rest:
If I had manual control of the shutter speed, I could have dragged the car lights out for a longer distance. Note that all of the above photos are also very desaturated.
Tripods are a must for low-light shooting, and even then, image quality is not good. But I never had expectation that this camera would be able to handle such extreme conditions. It's still a great camera for more common use cases.
BTW, here's a picture of the setup. I have a binocular mount connected to a quick-release plate that's loaded onto the head of my tripod. The phone is wedged in place with a folded up napkin. Ghetto, yes, but it did the job holding the camera still.
Maybe I should have forced a lower ISO. That may improve the grainyness and desaturation problem. I suspect though that the shutter speed would not get correspondingly slower though, which means even darker images.
Perhaps my standards are too high. I dunno. Here's a shot of Vegas I took back in 2003 with an entry-level dSLR. 30-second exposure and small aperture to get everything in focus:
Novox -- very excellent work testing out the camera.
1) It will be interesting to see what impact manually selecting a lower ISO will yield. But yes I agree with your suspicion that the result will be darker images -- non manual Point and Shoots that I've used usually have some shutter speed cap and will just refuse to take any shot longer than the limit, even if the exposure/ISO dictate otherwise. It's probably the same here.
2) There's actually a low-light option in the settings (all the way at the bottom of the A button). You might try giving that a shot. In some point and shoots I've used, even though there's no manual function, the low light setting can increase the ceiling for the shutter speed, opening up a few more seconds of exposure over the normal shooting modes. See if that helps.
Thanks for the tips. I'll try to get some shots tonight if I remember. ISO 100 + low light + HDR + tripod stability might provide something halfway decent I'll try higher ISOs too if the low ones screw things up.
Just for clarification -- Low light is an alternative shooting mode to HDR, you won't be able to enable both.
At the risk of sounding stupid, I'm just going to ask.... what's HDR?
It stands for High Dynamic Range, and that refers to the amount of contrast captured in the final image. With a regular photo, the dynamic range captured is much less than what our eyes can perceive. Therefore, shadows look darker, and bright areas get washed out much more easily on paper than it does with our eyes.
HDR requires that you take several photos in quick succession at different exposure levels, taking care to capture the details of the shadows, the midtones, and the bright areas. No one photo can capture it all, but through a post-processing technique called tone mapping, you can merge the best contrast ranges from each photo into one. The resulting image is what people refer to as the HDR shot. It allows us to capture light that more closely matches what we can see with our eyes. Extreme tone mapping can also capture more of a dynamic range of contrast than what we perceive, and when this happens, the HDR image has a surreal feeling, like things are glowing.
When we take an HDR shot with our phone, the phone is taking three shots in rapid succession, one underexposed to capture bright contrast; one normally exposed to capture midtones, and one overexposed to capture shadow details. Then the images are tonemapped and saved as one image.
HDR worked better for me at night because one of the shots was an overexposure, and I'd imagine most of the data from the final shot came from that one. The other two would be near solid black.
Do we know that HDR on the phone is a real HDR process (combining multiple exposures) or is it just a post-processing effect? I thought it was just the latter? (I only hear one "snap" although it's just the speaker and not actual shutter).
In other news, I was playing around with the options and saw that the "low-light" mode on the Evo actually locks out the ISO, so instead of extending the exposure, it might just be locking in the higher ISO, I'm not quite sure (are we able to see the exposure data -- shutter and aperture -- in the EXIF? So far I've only seen focal length and ISO). It also seems to be doing something weird with the white balance in the limited time I've messed around with it last night.
I'm no professional, but I'm going to say the former. It seems that I need a much steadier hand when I take HDR shots as I almost always blur the image as the camera takes longer exposure shots.
I believe there is a pretty straightforward way of testing this -- go somewhere that is very bright (outdoors on a sunny day) where the shutter speed will be very fast and so motion blur will not be an issue, and then shoot with HDR while moving the phone extremely fast (whip your arm around or something).
In theory, this will eliminate motion blur as a confounding issue, but you should still see "ghosting" or the presence of 2 or 3 other shots overlaid on each other.
In my informal testing (without the benefit of full brightness), I'm seeing only motion blur and not the ghosting I've seen in HDR shots on my digital camera, so I'm inclined to believe it's not true HDR, but admittedly at the moment, the motion blur may be confounding things more than I can see.
According to HTC ImageSense - HTC Sense features
If true, then three shall be the number of the counting and the number of the counting shall be three.
i inadvertently proved it was multiple shots when i tried a handheld HDR shots in low lighting (restaurant). My subject (son) was moving quite a bit too, and the end result was very strange... floating limbs and such.
You can do tonemapping from a single image, but the end result can easily be replicated with some levels and contrast adjustment in photoshop.
I think it was already proven somewhere else that the sound effect of the shutter has no correlation to the actual shutter, which IMO is very unfortunate.
I played with it a little more at my desk and I stand corrected -- I see the characteristic HDR mismatch ghosting.
Interesting -- thanks for the insight.
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