I’m on Day 11 of my BlackBerry Passport Challenge and this week, I wanted to focus on Spongebob’s camera. And not just the camera but also the story maker app that allows you to use your photographs to create some sort of a story or video. And it’s actually quite good. But first let’s get into the camera.
As you may have heard from my full review that I published a couple of weeks ago now, the Passport’s camera is massively improved from any other previous version of BlackBerry device. But then again, it wasn’t exactly hard to beat BlackBerry cameras in the past because even when they were launched, they were terrible. But the 13MP sensors have been equipped with optical image stabilization, which means that when you’re taking photos on the move especially when it’s in low light, you get less blur, less blurry noisiness. It also has full 1080p video recording.
To actually use the camera, there are various ways of launching it. But my favorite by far is launching it from the home screen or the lock screen. Press and hold the camera icon on the bottom and while the circle goes all the way around, it will eventually launch the camera. When you open it up it automatically tries to shoot in square but you can change this ratio.
Now if you go through the menu options on the right hand on the bottom edge of the screen, then you can choose various settings and change all sorts of things. The top one enables you to change the scene. It’s set to automatically but you can also change it to white board, you can change it to an action shot, you can change it to a beach or a snow shot and it’ll adapt the settings based on where you are with some sort of preset setting adjustments done. It’s also an ability to switch to HDR in there (HDR is High Dynamic Range). This basically enables you to even out shots when you’re taking it in areas where you’ve got really bright light and really dark shadows. It takes multiple shots and balances out the exposure so it doesn’t look just like white sky, black shadows and nothing else. And it works quite well in BlackBerry.
You can also have a timer shot. You can set this to 3 seconds or 10 seconds. Or you can just switch it off, it depends on what you want to do with camera. Within this menu as well you’ve got the option to go into the settings and here you have lots of toggle switches to switch also on the settings on or off. These include automatic face detection, auto suggestion, which basically suggests you with the best settings or best options to choose for the photography you’re taking so like with the HDR, it will tell you when the best time to use HDR is. I have this switched on for now but you can obviously switch them off. You can switch grid lines on/off, you can switch video stabilization on/off or continuous video autofocus or geotagging.
The big question here is what the actual results are like. And I have to say, they’re not bad. Compared to some of the top camera phones on the market, like the Sony Xperia Z2 or Z3, iPhone 6, all the Galaxies; they’re not the best. But compared to any other BlackBerry, they’re incredible, really good sharpness, focuses well. It seems to take the pictures quite quickly. I didn’t sit there waiting ages for the shutter. It’s not instant, there are much quicker phones but it wasn’t slow and laggy either. With some shots, I even got some decent colors as well, particularly when I added HDR on.
Low light performance is okay but not the best. Now unless I was really close to the subject, I also found that focusing wasn’t a problem either unless it was in low light. Especially when I was taking pictures of my children, often times if they were moving a little bit too much I would get loads of blur. So the shutter, I guess in low light isn’t that fast. It doesn’t take as much light in as quickly and it takes a little bit extra time to try get enough light to make a good picture and ending up with some blur, which isn’t great.
One other cool feature that the BlackBerry has done since BlackBerry 10 came out is the time shift feature. You take a picture of somebody’s face and then you can scroll backwards and forwards within that shot—it takes a couple of seconds shot; and you can change it so that you’ve got the best face. So if you’re taking a selfie, you can pick the perfect crazy doctor from Back to the Future face shot. It also has Burst mode, which enables you to take lots of shots in quick session; and Panorama, which enables you to panorama shots.
Now let’s get on to Story Maker. Using this couldn’t be any simpler. It essentially takes your photos that you want, turns it into sort of a slideshow with music and titles and a credit. So first of all, you launch the app then you pick your photos. Some of course, you have to ensure that you choose an appropriate sound track from the pre-selected ones there or from your music library. You create your title and credits. Once you’ve done all that, you can watch the magic unfold. Of course once you’ve finished, you can share it. It takes a few minutes to do that because you have to save it onto your device. So then you can share it via social media, email, or Dropbox.
So that’s been my experience with the camera. Yes, I’ve used better. After using the BlackBerry device as my daily driver, I haven’t really felt like I’m lacking too much. It’s not as bad as if I switched to a BlackBerry couple of years ago and try to use that camera as my daily one.
For those of you who are asking about BlackBerry Blend and BlackBerry keyboard videos in this challenge, I have already done those. A couple of weeks ago, I did a couple of really in-depth videos and I’ll leave the links to those in the description box down there.
Day 1 - Switching from an iPhone: http://youtu.be/gTc_uf-A6rs
Day 5 - It's all about those apps: http://youtu.be/GlQLXLVpmSc
BlackBerry Blend overview: http://youtu.be/0LRbNqUSjTM
Passport keyboard overview: http://youtu.be/Yn6DRcUFj8Y