On the HTC One’s camera, and comparisons to the Galaxy S4.

I’ve received a lot of comments on the One review claiming the S4 has a superior camera, and that I am flat wrong about the One’s camera. I’ve been looking at many photo comparisons between the two, and in some respects, I am inclined to agree that the S4’s camera is superior.

The S4 without a shadow of a doubt will produce superior detail at full crop – it’s not even a contest. Most of that is because of the One’s lower resolution, though, and is to be expected. If you’re concerned about full-crop detail, the S4 will have the better camera, hands down. So will the Xperia Z / ZL, and likely so will many other phones this year. Heck, the Galaxy S III has way better full-crop detail than the One.

I am far less convinced of any outlet claiming the S4 has superior low light performance. Maybe it has superior “low-ish” light performance, but for photos actually taken at night? I would be seriously surprised to see the One lose out, and the one real night shot comparison I’ve seen has the One easily besting the S4 / Xperia Z even when night mode is turned off.

I also have yet to see any motion shot comparisons, which I am quite confident is a comparison the One would win because of it’s ultra-wide aperture (f2.0 vs f2.2 on the S4) that allows extremely fast shutter speeds, along with OIS to keep the camera steady. This is doubly important when taking shots of actual human beings at night – they move!

Finally, I’m seeing a lot of daylight photo samples that look to have been taken with a dirty lens on the One, something that it is unusually sensitive to. I had to scrap about 1/3 of my review photos because I neglected to wipe the lens before shooting – it causes major washout / overexposure. Without a doubt, this is an issue. I wipe the One’s lens off every time I go to take a photo just in case.

But to say the S4’s camera is definitively better? I think some people are getting a little ahead of themselves.

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