By Rich W Woods
Way back on October 17 at HTC’s Double Exposure event, HTC announced a “remarkable little camera that we call Re”. The idea was that while a Go Pro is great for people doing extreme sports or jumping into a volcano, the HTC Re would be better for everyday folks doing everyday things.
I have always been a fan of HTC’s photography tools. They are an industry leader in front facing cameras and the ultrapixel method that they use for their rear cameras saturates the images for more vibrant colors. The HTC Desire Eye has this effect without the restrictions that come with the 4 MP rear camera on the HTC One M8.
HTC Re: How it Works
The HTC Re is one of the simplest cameras in the world to operate. There is no power switch, just a proximity sensor that can tell when the user is holding it to turn it on. Press the shutter button to take a photo or hold it to take a video. Hold the button on the front while holding the shutter button to take slow motion video. Sounds pretty great, right? Read on.
When I say it’s poorly executed, I’m going to explain the main reason right here. The HTC Re has a companion app that is available for iOS and Android. In order to connect the app to the HTC Re, it must first recognize the HTC Re through low energy Bluetooth and then connect through Wi-Fi Direct, requiring the user to go to the Settings on his phone and actually switch from his home Wi-Fi network to the HTC Re’s Wi-Fi network.
Of course, all photos and videos taken with the HTC Re are saved to the 8 GB SD card that comes with it (it’s expandable to 128 GB). If you have an SD card reader, you can obviously pop the SD card in there but the app does some other stuff as well.
The app can serve as a viewfinder as well as for downloading firmware updates to the HTC Re. It seems like a firmware update would have to come through a cellular connection as the phone’s Wi-Fi is linked to the HTC Re. The app is also used for changing camera settings. For example, changing the resolution of photos or the aspect ratio as well as changing the resolution of video. There is also a toggle for using an ultra wide angle and one for video stabilization.
HTC Re: Specs
The first camera comparison that I did with the HTC Re was with the HTC One M8. I was very disappointed with the results. Then, I compared it to the HTC Desire Eye and after looking at the specs, I realized that I had the use case all wrong.
|Connectivity||BLE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n|
|Audio||HD Microphone, Speaker|
|Storage||8 GB SD Card included, expandable to 128 GB|
|Video||1080p – 30 fps, 4X slow motion|
|Battery||820 mAh (1,200 photos; 1 hour 40 minutes FHD recording|
Typically, I like to compare the cameras on smart phones. Just take a look at the menu there and browse through all of the phones I’ve done camera comparisons with. I’ve done well over 100 camera comparisons. That’s why I was initially disappointed.
The HTC Re has no autofocus. Even when using the viewfinder in the app, there is no tap to focus. it does, however, have a very small aperture of F/2.8. Aperture relates to depth of field. A smaller aperture means a larger depth of field, meaning that the background is more focused. The HTC Re is not meant to take photos up close. Try to take a photo up close and it will be very blurry. Take a photo of a landscape and it comes out beautiful. I’m going to show examples of both.
Please note that in order to enlarge the photos, simply click or tap them. To view the full size image, there is a link in the gallery.
You’ll notice that the photos taken close to the subject are very out of focus. The farther the subject is from the camera the better it looks. The photos that don’t have a particular subject are actually very stunning.
Now, move on to the nighttime photos. These nighttime photos are more focused than almost any smart phone camera I’ve seen. This is because there is no autofocus. It’s not trying to focus on something that it can’t see and the end result is extraordinary. In fact, the final two photos were taken as I was driving by that spot, slowly of course but it really shows a use case for the HTC Re.
When I first saw the announcement for the HTC Re, my first question was the obvious one. Why would the HTC Re replace my smart phone camera? After all, as far and point and shoot goes, smart phones have it covered.
The HTC Re clearly isn’t meant to replace your smart phone camera. It’s meant for the times that you need a quick photo. It could be your son’s baseball game, your child’s first steps, or just a beautiful landscape that you want to snap a photo of. While trying to connect the HTC Re to a smart phone isn’t the most pleasant experience, the HTC Re is a fine camera.