HTC One M8 v. HTC One M7 Camera Shootout

Many people will consider upgrading their older HTC One M7 to the new HTC One M8. We’ve already reviewed the phone and did an overall comparison of the older phone with the newer one, but we wanted to focus on the camera.

Smartphone cameras are more important now than ever and they get better with each generation. That’s true of the HTC One M8, but do those improvements justify upgrading a phone that many bought less than a year ago?

What’s New on the HTC One M8 Camera?

htc-one-cameras

Here’s a list of some of the key improvements:

  • Duo Camera Mode – Two back facing cameras which help users get a DLSR-like shallow depth of field which makes either the background or foreground of an image look out of focus to draw attention to the subject of the photo. (Learn more at the Digital Photography School)
  • UtraPixel 4MP Camera – HTC bumped up the light level in low light image capture in the camera app so that indoor shots look brighter. We get less grain, but we also suffer washed out images shot in bright light.
  • Zoe Camera – Zoe shoots video and then picks the best frame as the photo while also saving the video. HTC lengthened video capture from a few seconds to whatever length the user wants to shoot by holding down the shutter button.

Here’s a video of the folks from HTC Great Britain explaining the new HTC One M8 Zoe feature. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFF60nXNaCo

Outdoors: Sunny Day

htc one m8 outdoor

The HTC One M8 outdoor shot gets a little washed out but it’s not bad.

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While the color in these two photos show the M8 camera offering a more vibrant look, the white parts of my wife’s pants look a little washed out.

htc one m7 outdoors

The HTC One M7 did a slightly better job on outside bright light.

The HTC One M8 colors look more vibrant, but also more washed out. Fix this by changing the EV value. Tap the menu button represented by the three dots in the lower left in landscape mode or upper left in portrait. Lower it by one step and test it until the image exposure doesn’t look washed out. When you can see some texture in bright white areas, you’re done. Also, set the ISO value to 400 or below each time you take a picture.

Winner: Tie

Outdoor Low Light

I took the following shots at twilight and they look as bright as any picture taken at midday on an overcast day.

htc one m8 twilight

The lowlight shot on the HTC One M8 looks as if its still daylight out.

Look at the sky behind the trees in the distance. The skies actually looked dark and deep blue, but the camera made them look brighter. The M8 shot above looks sharper and colors are more accurate. Lowlight shots are more susceptible to camera shake on the M7 due to poorer lowlight performance. This is because it must slow down the shutter to let more light hit the sensor.

htc one m7 twilight

The M7 looks blurry since it doesn’t handle lowlight shots as well as the M8.

Winner: HTC One M8

Indoors: Normal Light

htc one m7 indoors

The M7 looks almost as good as the M8 but not as sharp due poor low light performance.

The M7 shot above looks a little warmer than the M8 shot below. Its also not as sharp due to slower shutter speed needed for indoor low light shots. Also the M8 shot looks a little better since the M8 camera smooths skin for a more appealing look.

htc one m8 indoor

The M8 shines indoors under medium to low light and excels.

Winner: HTC One M8

Indoor Low Light

Indoor low light photos often look very grainy. Photographers call this noise and it comes from raising the ISO levels above normal. ISO helps the camera’s see more light even in dark settings.

We turned off all the lights except for some window light. The M7 actually took a better shot.

htc one m8 low light indoors

This shot from the M8 doesn’t look as detailed as the M7 but does offer better color fidelity.

Despite the promise of better low light shots, the HTC One M8  above doesn’t look as detailed as the M7 shot below. The color looks a little better in the image above and both of them suffer from terrible noise. Considering how dark this little scene was, the two cameras did a good job of making this dark situation look  okay.

htc one m7 low light indoors

The HTC One M7 handled this low light indoor shot about as good as the M8 even though the color wasn’t as accurate. It did give more detail in the shot.

Winner: Tie

Indoor Macro

htc one m8 macro

These flowers look beautiful in this close up M8 macro shot.

The M8 clearly outshines the M7 in this round. The above image offers more detail and the color looks better. We struggled to get a focus on the M7 shot below.

htc one m7 macro shot

The color isn’t as vibrant on the M7 macro shot.

If you take a lot of close up macro shots, then the upgrade may be worth your time. Most people don’t, so even though the M8 won this round easily, it’s not that important a category.

Winner: HTC One M8

Outdoor Detail

htc one m8 detail

Neither camera offered very good detail in these handheld shots. This M8 photo is blurry and soft.

Its very difficult to get good detail in a handheld shot like this. We leaned over these flowers and tried to get the steadiest shot we could but the wind was not our friend. Neither camera shined.

htc one m7 detail

The M7 also looks blurry and struggled to get focus on this handheld shot.

Winner: Tie

Depth of Field

HTC One M8 depth of field

Notice that the background gets a little more blurry in the M8 shot thanks to the DuoCamera mode.

The HTC One comes with two cameras on the back of the phone. The second camera scans the area and tells the camera software that the background looks like. Open the shot in the Gallery and select Edit. Tap on Ufocus and then choose the main subject. The camera app will use the detail it received from the second camera and blur the background or foreground giving the user a DSLR-like depth of field.

htc one m7 depth of field

The HTC One M7 doesn’t give us as nice a depth of field as the M8 above.

The M8 gives us a better look with shallow depth of field thanks to the Ufocus feature in the camera app. Without editing the shot, the images looked pretty similar. Because Google now makes their camera available in the Play store, M7 users can get a similar Ufocus effect without upgrading.

Winner: HTC One M8

Panorama

In these panorama photos, we shot from our backyard. The content on the left side is opposite the building in the distance on the right. Click the images to see a bigger picture to get a better view of the difference.

htc one m8 panorama

The panorama mode on the M8 gives us a fuller look of the landscape with much better color.

The HTC One M8 panorama mode lets the user snap a series of photos by rotating their body left and right and panning up or down. The M7 only lets the user move from side to side and doesn’t give us the option to get as much of our surroundings.

htc one m7 panorama

We don’t get as much of our surroundings in this M7 panorama shot.

Aside from the amount of the scene we can get with the much better M8 panorama mode, we also see more vibrant colors.

Winner: HTC One M8

Quick Fix Images

htc one m8 auto enhance

HTC One M8 auto-enhance hides among the custom filters in the Edit mode.

HTC One M8 auto enhancement option hides inside the filters section of the editing feature. The user must choose a custom filter and then they will see Auto Enhance as an option along with other photo editing settings, like brightness and color. Both shots looks pretty good. We prefer the color accuracy in the shot above.

htc one m7 auto fix

The HTC One auto enhance mode will help make the image look better. We prefer to edit it ourselves.

 Winner: HTC One M8

Video Camera

See the two video samples taken with the video feature in each phone’s camera. We prefer the look of the M8, but they’re so close we can’t give it the nod.

Winner: Tie

Camera App and Hardware Design

The updated HTC One M8 camera software adds some great new features and the settings, shooting modes and camera modes are easier to find and navigate.

htc one m7 and htc one m8 live filters

The phones offer live filters, but we prefer the way the new M8 presents them in the camera app.

The HTC One M8 shows the live filters and offers more of them. Resulting shots look better from the M8 filters.

htc one m7 and htc one m8 menu

The old version of the shooting menu makes it harder to find shooting modes and camera settings like ISO settings.

The layout and user-interface give the M8 users a clear advantage.

Winner: HTC One M8

Conclusion

The HTC One M8 either came out ahead or tied with the HTC One M7 in every category, but do the M8 camera improvements warrant an upgrade over the M7? No, because the best new feature comes in the new Google Camera app too and it does as good or better than the M8 DuoCamera.

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The HTC One M8 gives us a better metal body design and faster performance. The camera usually takes better photos, but I don’t recommend that people upgrade for the camera alone. If someone doesn’t like the M7, then look at another Android phone like the Samsung Galaxy S5 or the iPhone 5s. Even dedicated M7 owners who love taking pictures with their phone, should wait for the next round in 2015.

Comments

  1. ozzy says

    Yes, every second M7 phone has that issue. But serie of phones released after September doesn’t have that problem.

  2. jwalker5524 says

    This guy is not qualified to be writing a review about cameras of any kind. He is clueless.

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