HTC have released two handsets this year that benefit from their Duo camera set up; the HTC One (M8) and HTC Butterfly 2. These handsets are as similar as they are different: the M8 use a metal chassis and case and (in most markets) comes with a quad core 2.3 GHz Snapdragon 801 processor (for some Asian markets the processor clock speed is boosted to 2.5 GHz). Around the back, you’ll find a 4 MP UltraPixel camera sitting together with a depth-of-focus camera. The Butterfly 2 uses a plastic chassis, a quad core 2.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 processor, a 13 MP camera and the depth-of-focus duo camera set up too. Both handsets feature BoomSound, a 5.0-inch, 1080p resolution screen, 2 GB of RAM, 16 or 32 GB of storage plus a MicroSD card and 4G LTE connectivity. We’ve seen rumors that HTC are to release an upgraded version of the M8 with a 13 MP main rear camera, but let’s leave this vaporware (as I write!) handset to one side for the time being and concentrate on the two devices we know have the duo camera setup.
Anyway; back to the duo camera set up. HTC use the duo camera in conjunction with the Snapdragon 801’s built-in dual ISP (image signal processor) in order to create some clever effects. You see, when Qualcomm designed the Snapdragon 801, they gave it a number of subtle improvements over the Snapdragon 800 including a 45% hike in image signal processing performance. It’s the ISP that communicates with the camera sensors in order to control the white balance, autofocus, HDR, exposure time and color filters. The ISP is clocked at 465 MHz in the Snapdragon 801 compared with 320 MHz in the Snapdragon 800 and as it’s a dual design, it can better multitask. The additional dedicated camera processing power means that the HTC One M8 and Butterfly 2 are better able to use their dual camera set up and take faster and better quality pictures, especially in low light conditions, with more information behind the image. It’s the additional information that’s used by the specialist HTC software after you’ve taken the shot and this is where the HTC Gallery comes into play.
HTC have wisely decided to release the Gallery application in the Google Play Store, which means that improvements to the application don’t have to wait for a software update on the device but may instead be rolled out using Google’s existing Play Store infrastructure. This heavyweight application contains a number of special effects that you can apply to photographs you’ve taken with the HTC. You can use Ufocus, Foregrounder, Seasons and Dimension Plus. Each of these effects take advantage of the additional depth information that the One captures. Ufocus is perhaps the easiest one to explain as it allows you to change the focus point of the image after it’s been taken. I personally use this effect to ensure that the main point of the camera remains in focus by blurring out the background. The Foregrounder effect is similar to Ufocus but instead of blurring the background, it applies a special effect such as the Sketch mode. Seasons is similar; HTC Gallery applies an animated effect over your chosen image, which scrolls past on the screen. Dimension Plus uses the additional depth information to produce a pseudo-3D image. Today’s update includes additional effects for the HTC Gallery. We have four new Seasons to play with; Bubbles, Light Points, Confetti and Roses (shown below). There are also six new Foregrounder effects, these being Wwatercolor Ink, Draft, Retro, Pastel and Color Beads. If you have either of these devices, you might want to hit up the Play Store and grab the update. And check out some of the effects I’ve been creating with a picture of my very own test subject, Zeus. As you can see, some effects are better than others!