HTC Desire Review – Part 6 – Camera

HTC Desire Review - Camera

HTC Desire exceeds the camera power from it’s previous models. A 5MP snapper on HTC Desire turns any mobile photographer into a pinch happy snappy person in no time. Having said that, you should not expect the camera to compete with models like Sony Xperia X10, Sony Satio or LG Viewty Smart. But the 5MP is definitely a good choice when you need a mobile camera. With the advantage of Android 2.1, HTC Desire brings a camera interface that is quite competitive outside the Google OS world.

There are a number of customizable settings available such as ISO speed, aspect ratio, auto focus, face detection, geo-tagging, flicker adjustment, white balance and metering mode. Smile detection like Sony Xperia X10 is not yet there but surely the gap is getting closer. A secondary camera is definitely one of the most wanted missing feature for this line of Smartphones.

Let me show you some of the features of the camera and some critics in this article.

Camera Interface

HTC Desire Camera Body

HTC Desire Camera Settings 1 HTC Desire Camera Settings 2

HTC Desire Camera Settings 3 HTC Desire Camcorder Settings 1

HTC Desire Camcorder Settings 2


Camera Features

  • 5 megapixel sensor for a maximum image resolution of 2592 x 1936 pixels, and a LED flash.
  • Touch focus gives you a flexibility. You can tap any part of the screen and the auto focus will focus in that area. A long-press will auto focus in the designated area and when you lift your finger, it will take the shot.
  • The optical trackball acts also as a shutter key. One click on the trackball, the camera will do the focus and take the snap.
  • Generally, image quality of the HTC Desire camera is nice and definitely better than the Legend but not yet at the par with Sony Xperia series phones. There is a decent amount of resolved detail and the contrast is now much better.
  • There are three main operational shortcut on the camera screen. One setting the flash, another for exposure compensation right in the viewfinder and third one is the shortcut to photo albums.
  • Face detection works pretty well with a decent amount of light. Example below (notice the small green square at Starbucks emblem).
    HTC Desire Camera Face Detection
  • ISO settings can be switched to manual and configurable between ISO 100, 200, 400 and 800.
  • Geo-tagging can be enabled and disabled from the settings. This geo-tagging data can be used by Flickr, Picasa and similar web applications.
  • 3 types of metering mode available at the settings – Partial, Spot and Average metering. Which are pretty helpful in many conditions.
  • Widescreen shooting at 5MP is definitely a nice feature for shooting wide landscape.
  • The HTC Desire camcorder comes with a plenty of options too. You can take video in QVGA (320 x 240), CIF (352 x 288), VGA (DVD quality, 640 x 480) or WVGA (800 x 480), and all four can be recorded to MP4 or H.263 formats, with the file container as .3GP.
  • HTC Desire shoots WVGA (800 x 480) videos in 15fps. But sometimes it will dynamically increase the frame rate to 20fps if enough light available.
  • Both Camera and Camcorder has both automatic and manual flicker adjustment options. Which helps you to take photo in a condition like a computer screen and fluorescent lights without having a flicker. Manual flicker rates are 50hz and 60hz.
  • The camera also comes with a preset of effects such as black and white and sepia photos.
  • You can tweak and adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and sharpness of the photo or video before snapping it.
  • Even though HTC Desire doesn’t have a macro mode, it can still focus on a close object (as close as 10cm) and the results are pretty impressive. (See the sample photos below)
  • The LED flash helps the camera to focus in total dark and the light is distributed pretty much evenly.
  • The camera automatically keeps refocusing on the scene in front of it, which removes the need for a half-press on the shutter key to bring the picture into sharpness.
  • Simply pressing on separate sections of the screen to take a snap makes a big difference to the brightness of a photo.
  • The options saturation, sharpness and contrast of the camera aren’t just gimmicks. They make real differences in the snaps.
  • Auto focus is also there for the camcorder too. But the Desire only focuses before the recording starts and acts as a fixed focus camera after that.
  • Camcorder have the similar options as the still camera and addition to all that it also allows you to setup some options like video resolution, encoding type and recording limit.

Camera critics

  • Unfortunately, the usability is still pretty bad with most of the options sitting on a retractable tray at the left side of the viewfinder which can either be dragged out by a finger sweep or by pressing the menu key
  • Detail in brighter light can sometimes be a little wa
    shed out on the HTC Desire. See example below.
    Washed out details
  • A dual camera definitely can bring this device to the next level.
  • Many people said that HTC Desire doesn’t have a HD recording option like Sony Ericsson Vivaz. In my honest opinion that HD feature isn’t entirely necessary.
  • Video quality is below average at the optimum settings. The amount of resolved detail is not enough, the colors are a bit washed-out, the there are some low contrast issues visible too. But in my opinion these can be ignored and hardly noticeable.
  • One of the critical thing that is missing from this device is a dedicated shutter key at the right side. Using the whole touchscreen to capture isn’t the most comfortable thing. Personally I think it’s really helpful in many diverse situations. Not to mention that it also helps taking self portraits.
  • In light colored objects with a detail, HTC Desire produces a soft pinkish spot at the centre of the frame.
  • Noise levels of high ISO mode remained relatively high (somewhat tolerable though).
  • Scene modes like digital cameras in HTC Desire would be great but not essential.

Camera Samples

Here are some sample photos for you to understand the camera quality by yourself. The photos below are un-edited but converted to smaller size so the JPEG compression may change the experience.

Sky View Sample
Sample Sky shot in Auto mode (16:9 wide)

A Landscape in a Shopping Mall
A sample Landscape in Auto mode (16:9 wide)

Close Macro Shot
Sample Macro shot 1 in Auto mode (16:9 wide)

Sample Macro Shot 2
Sample Macro shot 2 in Auto mode (16:9 wide)

Macro at ISO 800

Sample Macro shot at ISO 800 Auto mode (16:9 wide, notice the grainy image)

Note: More sample photos will be added soon. So check back often.


Camcorder Video Sample

Here is a video taken by HTC Desire (uploaded straight from the phone to YouTube, quality may differ)

This is a sample video taken on bright light WVGA (800×480) Dynamic 25fps (Desire adjusted the fps to 25) [Direct Link to YouTube – You can select and watch in 480p option]


This is another sample video taken in Low-Light condition WVGA (800×480) Dynamic 12fps (Desire adjusted the fps to 12) [Direct Link to YouTube – You can select and watch in 480p option]



HTC Desire may not be the supplement of your point and shoot digital camera but It is definitely a great mobile photography and camcorder device.

In my thoughts, there are some parts of HTC Desire camera should be improved to compete the other Smartphones in the same range.

So what is next? Yes, it’s about HTC Desire connectivity and applications. That would be the last topic before the the final verdict about this phone. So just hang on there for just a little bit.

In Category: Gadgets, Malaysia
No comments yet. Be the first.