Blackberry has not won and awards or praise for quality and innovation on the photo stills and video capabilities on their smart phones. The Z10 may not set any new standards but it does improve Blackberry standards by a big way and ensures its not multimedia that is taking away the buyer from Blackberry.
The Z10 features a 8MP sensor coupled to a F2.2 lens in the rear, while the front camera features a 2MP sensor coupled to a F2.2 lens as well.
The field of view (FOV) of the camera compared to my HTC Butterfly is not great, but HTC is known for there very wide angle lenses compared to the competition. The FOV i would say is more in line with the Samsung S3 though possibly a bit better (Samsung has one of the worst wide angle implementations, specially in video mode).
The 10.0.9.x update which i tried while providing decent stills and videos, i felt were lacking in sharpness and detail. However once i got the 10.1.x update, the story changed. The quality of still photos improved greatly, so much so that level of details was far better than the photos taken off from my HTC Butterfly under both good and low light conditions. In good light it seems to offer better pictures than most phone cameras i have ever owned.
While the F2.0 lens of the Butterfly gave it an edge in low light, the Z10 did fairly well but more importantly when i analyzed the photos taken (in auto mode so that i can also consider the camera app IQ) the details were fastly better on the Z10. A few reviews i read also showed comparison with the illustrious Galaxy S3, and here the Z10 does better than the S3 which is a good indication but came second to the Apple IPhone 5.
However the low light performance is no match for something like the Nokia 920 which has amazing low light pictures mainly due to its ability to slow down the shutter to absurdly low figures thanks to its hardware stabilization implementation.
The camera app for still photos compared to the Android, Apple and Microsoft (thanks to the Nokia Camera app and lenses modules) is very plain, with only the aspect ratio, mode, and flash settings being controllable. In order to select the slow motion video, panorama, picture effects you will need to select the “Hopefully coming in the future” menu!
One feature that Blackberry has implemented is Timeshift, a capability currently already offered in the Nokia Lumia phones. This is available as a complete different shooting mode, and is a very cool implementation. It takes photos in burst mode, and then for any detected faces it allows you to go through a dial to decide which photo of that person you want to include in the final version. Very very cool, but the only miss is that it disables the flash on Timeshift mode, so its usefulness is strictly in under good light.
The auto focus of the camera is sufficiently fast, but compared to the speed of AF i have been exposed to this is more in line with the Sony Xperia range than the HTC and Samsung phones for auto focus speed.
The camera touch focus is implemented in a quirky manner that can take some time getting used to. In the Android phones if you have enabled touch focus you just touch the location you want it to focus and boom it takes the photo, or it simply focuses on that point and takes the photo on the click of the capture button. In the Z10, you have a focus point, you must be careful not to tap on it, and move the focus point to the specific area you want to focus and then tap to take the photo. This approach means taking macro focus shots can be challenging specially in low light condition.
The focus accuracy is fairly good once you get used to this method, as you can see from the sample photos where i have moved the focus point.
The flash of the camera is decent and more than enough to do the job. Its a standard single LED unit which provides adequate coverage.
Blackberry like Nokia is well aware that getting good developers to start launching apps for their platforms are going to take of only if the platforms can show they are able to start taking on the two big boys in the form of Apple and Android. So until then Blackberry like Nokia has implemented a very feature rich image editor that ensures the image editing options are fully covered. So if someone tells you a Blackberry user, hey your phone does not have this, app, give the response, why do i need it when my in-built editor can do much much better for free 🙂
The z10 is capable of recording 1080p at 30fps from its main (rear) camera, and 720p @ 30fps from its front camera. The Z10 really shines here, as the video footage under good and semi-decent light is amazing. There is very good detail and smoothness on the video, and the audio quality is also very good. The continuous auto focus does tend to hunt a bit when the subject is moving, and takes around 1-2 seconds to get the focus back. Under low light conditions the footage becomes grainy and looses the color vibrancy. However the video footage is very impressive and any Blackberry owner can be happy that the video is in par with the competition.
The video also features an digital video stabilization implementation. When enabled the feature does well in ensuring the video remains stable even if your hands are not steady while recording.
However the video application is plain vanilla and you won’t find any features such as the ability to take a photo while video capture is going on, or changing the exposure, etc.
Speaker performance and headset
The in-built speaker is of the mono variant, and cannot compare with the new stereo implementations now becoming the benchmark as offered with the latest HTC one. The speaker blares out a decent amount of volumes, and while the audio clarity is good the bass is lacking.
At max volume the speaker still holds strong rather than getting distorted which is a good, but the audio is best listened through an headset or external speaker.
One annoying problem i noticed is that the headset is not industry standard, in a time where even Sony has moved away to accept the industry standard headset.
Video Player and editor
The camera comes with built-in player which according to external sites has a good support for codec’s. The phone hardware is more than capable of handling 1080p videos with ease.
The Z10 also features app called StoryMaker, an app similar to the genre of the Microsoft Movie Maker, which provides cool features for you to trim, merge and downscale videos and also directly upload to youtube. The app has been well implemented and should be more than sufficient for most video editing needs, which in android and the iOS world you will have to achieve by buying one or many apps.
The music app is implemented cleanly and provides a simple and quick interface for playlist creation, and music playback.
A good source on the use of new OS in addition to the great articles from crackberry was, http://us.blackberry.com/content/dam/bbCompany/Desktop/Global/PDF/Media-Gallery/blackberry-10-pressroom/BB10%20Reviewers%20Guide.pdf