HTC One (M8) – Duo Camera

You’re either going to love it, or you’re going to hate it. There is no middle ground…

So… I’m a huge digital photography nut.   I have two Nikon DX series DSLR’s and about 8 different lenses. I love taking pictures with them. My kids and my granddaughter are some of my favorite subjects to shoot.   That is, if you can get them to sit still long enough for me to get the camera out and the right lens attached.   While it is a bit harder with my granddaughter – at 18 months, getting her to sit still for ANYTHING is a challenge – this is the reason why God invented cameras in smartphones.   It’s much easier to whip out your phone and take a number of shots than it is to take them on a real camera, especially if you weren’t planning on taking photos.

htc-one-m8-duo-camera-smartphone-unveiled-03-570x712So, enter the HTC One (M8) and its Duo Camera.   The HTC One (M8) is the first camera that I have seen with a dual rear-facing camera with dual LCD flash.   The camera is supposed to pair its main UltraPixel module with a depth sensor that concentrates on depth of field information in the secondary lens. What you get is (supposed to be) a sharp foreground as the camera knows EXACTLY where everything is and what you’re really trying to focus on.   The camera has different tools related to both foreground and background (Foregrounder and UFocus, respectively) that provide specialized effects that can be applied to the pictures you take…and it’s all possible due to the extra depth of field information you get from the secondary lens.

The camera also has one of the fastest shutters I’ve ever seen in any kind of digital camera, either DSLR or point and shoot.   The HTC One (M8) can take 9-12 continuous shots with an autofocus speed of 300 milliseconds.   The camera begins snapping shots as soon as you press the shutter button.   The shutter is so fast, you’ll barely even notice that its capturing shots, which is one of the reasons why I ended up taking over 600 photos this past weekend (literally…) in under 30 minutes. I’ve never seen any camera so fast on the draw in my life.   There are a lot of features here that the average user won’t ever get to or even think about using.   The camera is pretty advanced.

So, how did it perform in actual use…?

Eh…

I was very disappointed.   As I said, I take some pictures, and I’m used to taking several hundred in a single shoot. There are a few things that are a bit concerning about the HTC One (M8)’s camera that HTC hasn’t hidden, per say, but they haven’t advertised them very well, either.

First and foremost, the rear facing camera has a 4MP sensor.   No.   That’s not a typo. I meant to use just the number “4” by itself. It’s not 14MP, or 24MP or even 40MP. Just 4MP.   That’s it…   The front facing camera intended for Skype and for selfies has a larger sensor at 5MP. While the secondary lens is supposed to compensate for the reduced sensor size and provide extra background information to allow for a sharper picture, that’s not what I experienced.

Many of the photos that I took, in varying lighting conditions, were “cloudy” (and yes, I checked the lens and cleaned any dirt or finger prints off…).   Many of the photos were blurry, even in direct sunlight and when the subject (and the phone/ camera) were relatively still.   I tried some of the special picture features and was equally unimpressed. Many of those things are novelties anyway, and unless you find something you really feel is cool or interesting, they’re not something you’re going to use on a regular basis.   Most people are just going to want to take pictures. Period.

IMAG0104_BURST005 IMAG0009

For example, the rapid shutter setting can either be used to take a bundle of pictures or to take rapid, single, shots.   If you take a bundle of photos, you can have the phone pick the best shot in the bundle and then delete the others.   If you’d rather do it yourself, you wind up with, like I said earlier, between 9-12 shots that are pretty much the same, unless you’re taking pictures at a sporting event or of your children traveling faster than light.   You have to watch, as you can accumulate quite a bit of photos, very quickly.   That’s how I shot over 600 photos over the weekend.

Getting them off the device and on to my Mac, I think was the biggest train wreck I’ve experienced. EVER.

With most other smartphones, once you connect the device to the computer, the smartphone shows up as a disk drive, and you can copy or move files off the device; OR in some cases, its recognized as a digital camera and whatever tool you have on your computer that senses cameras starts up and offers to transfer files for you.   That’s what I expected to happen on my Mac.   I was severely disappointed.

On the Mac, you have to install the HTC Transfer Manager.   The app assumes you’re using iPhoto to manage pictures and not any other app. Unfortunately, I don’t use iPhoto.   I had to jump through a number of different confusing screens to finally get to a point where I was looking at the device itself; and where I could browse files.   The photos aren’t in the “camera” folder on the device.   They’re in the DCIM folder.

It’s nice that HTC Transfer Manager supports iPhoto on the Mac, but the app should allow me to configure the device to use any transfer method and/or to show up as a drive automatically. It was confusing to have to wade through all the screens I had to wade through only to have to hunt for the files after I finally located the DCIM folder on the HTC One (M8).

After I imported them into Adobe Lightroom the amount of retouching I had to do to get them to look right was extensive.   You’re also going to see that at just 4MP, you aren’t going to get a photo suitable for anything bigger than a 4″x6″ or 5″x7″ print out. 4MP shots just don’t have enough data to support a decent 8″x10″.   You’re also not going to do a lot of cropping here, either. There just simply isn’t enough detail in the photo (read: enough pixels/ resolution) to support any decent cropping or detailing of the shots you take.

This was HUGELY disappointing to me; as it will be to many potential HTC One (M8) customers as well.   Digital photography is something that nearly everyone does now-a-days, as its every easy with many smartphones now sporting better digital camera sensors and equipment than many point and shoot cameras you can buy at Wal-Mart or BestBuy.   I also do a great deal of post processing to my images as well. There are a lot of tools out there that make retouching and adding post process effects easy.   The lack of resolution at a time when digital photography is something that nearly everyone makes use of on their smartphones is nearly inexcusable.

Is there anything you want me to look at on the HTC One (M8)?   Are you as disappointed as I was with the camera’s performance?   Why not join me in the comments section below and give me your thoughts on the matter?   As I said in the beginning… you’re either gonna love this device as a camera or you’re going to hate it…

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Samsung Electronics Becomes the World’s First in Mass Production of Transparent LCD Panel

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. announces that it began mass production of a 22-inch transparent LCD panel in March this year. The panels come in two types, the black-and-white type and the color type, and they have a contrast ratio of 500:1 with WSXGA+ (1680×1050) resolution.

Compared with the conventional LCD panels that use back light unit (BLU) and have 5% transparency, Samsung’s transparent LCD panel boasts the world’s best transparency rate of over 20% for the black-and-white type and over 15% for the color type. The transparent LCD panel has a high transparency rate, which enables a person to look right through the panel like glass, and it consumes 90% less electricity compared with a conventional LCD panel using back light unit. It’s because a transparent LCD panel utilizes ambient light such as sun light, which consequently reduces the dependency on electricity for generating power.

Also, Samsung’s transparent LCD panel maximizes convenience for not only manufacturers but also consumers by incorporating the High Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) and the Universal Serial Bus (USB) interface.

Transparent display panels have endless possibilities as an advertising tool, which can be applied to show windows and outdoor billboards or used in showcase events. Corporations and schools can also adopt the panel as an interactive communication device, which enables information to be displayed more effectively.

Younghwan Park, a senior vice president of Samsung Electronics LCD Business, said, “Transparent displays will have a wide range of use in all industry areas as an efficient tool for delivering information and communication. With the world’s first mass production of the transparent LCD panel, Samsung Electronics plans to lead the global transparent LCD market by developing various applications.”

Image source – geek.com

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Sony Unveils The PSP2

Sony is back with the new PSP with codename “Next Generation Portable”. Presented at an event in Tokyo the new portable system will be as powerful as the PS3.

The new device will come with the following features:

  • 5-inch OLED touchscreen with 960×544 resolution (the current PSP has a 4.3-inch LCD with 480 × 272 resolution)
  • ARM Cortex A9 core CPU (4 core)
  • SGX543MP4 GPU
  • storage: “new type of mini flash memory cards” (definitely no UMDs anymore)
  • new form factor (Sony speaks of a “super oval” shape)
  • touch pad on the rear that allows users to “touch” or “push” objects in games from the back
  • 3G and Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11b/g/n connectivity (3G for a gaming system is a first)
  • front and rear cameras
  • dual analog sticks
  • tilt-sensitive SIXAXIS controls
  • GPS
  • built-in stereo speakers, mic
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
  • size: 182.0 x 18.6 x 83.5mm

More info and a list of games featured by this handheld at CrunchGear.

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Test and Calibrate Your Monitor Online

Online tools to test and calibrate your monitor:
– Photo Friday – http://www.photofriday.com/calibrate.php
– Screencheck – http://photographerusa.com/screencheck/

– Online Monitor Test – http://tft.vanity.dk/monitorTest_scale.html
– The Lagom LCD Monitor Test Pages – http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

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What To Do If You Drop Your Mobile Phone In Water

Here is what to do if you drop your mobile phone in water:

– remove the battery as soon as you can;
– use toilet paper to soak the outside water;
– remove the SIM and uncover the phone as much as you can;
– dry the phone with a hair dryer (first the battery panel, LCD screen, keypad area);
– put your phone in a bag of rice for 3-4 days (make sure it’s completely covered);
– attach the battery and try turning it on.

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