HTC Desire Camera Review Spec and Sample Photos

This page demonstrates the quality of the new HTC Desire Android phone's camera. This is a fantastic new phone from HTC, but I harp on about that here, just the picture quality from the phone's camera. I'll include some sample photos to highlight various aspects of the camera's performance, and some screenshots to show the various menus.

HTC Desire Camera Spec

HTC Desire Camera Spec
MakeHTC
ModelDesire
O/S version reviewedAndroid 2.1
Screen
Size3.7 inch
Screen Resolution800 x 480 WVGA AMOLED
Storage
CardMicro SD >32Gb
Camera Spec
Camera Resolution0.3Mp, 1Mp, 3Mp, 5Mp
AspectWide 2592 x 1552
Normal 2592 x 1952
Face DetectionYes
FlashSingle LED Flash
FocusTouch to auto-focus
OrientationAutomatic by accelerometer
GeotaggingYes
ISOManual/Auto. 100, 200, 400, 800 ISO

HTC Desire Sample Photos

Here are some sample photos taken with the HTC Desire. Overall, the picture quality is pretty good. HTC Android phones have generally been pretty poor as cameras in the past, but the Desire is a step forward. Geo-tagging is a nice feature, which stores the phone's geographical location within each photo's EXIF data. The EXIF data is a little sparse though, omitting exposure time, white balance, and most other useful EXIF tags, but most people won't care about that. Best quality pictures usually come out at around 1 to 1.5Mb.

HTC Desire Sample Photo

Photo Sample

Nicely exposed, sharp, and accurate colours. Taken in default widescreen mode, maximum quality and resolution.
Full Size Photo [1.66Mb]
HTC Desire Close-up Sample Photo

Close-Up

The HTC Desire doesn't have a Macro Mode, but closeups are quite good. The phone will focus at up to about 10cm, as in this shot. Also show here is the Time-stamp feature.
Full Size Photo [1.15Mb]
HTC Desire Close-up Sample Photo

Another Sample Photo

The Desire's camera sharpens images a LOT, even with default settings. You can see a lot of sharpening especially around the cat's whiskers.
Full Size Photo [0.95Mb]

HTC Desire Quality Setting

The Desire's camera settings include a setting for Quality, allowing High, Fine and Normal quality. I've done a bit of experimentation with this to see what the difference is, and whether the higher quality settings are worth the trade-off in file size. The Normal quality setting seems to be encoded as 85% jpeg compression, whereas the Fine and High quality settings are 95% compression. You have to look pretty closely to notice any difference in the three quality settings, and file size difference between worst and best quality setting is around say, 700k and 1400k. We're not exactly short of memory, so I'll be leaving mine on high quality.

HTC Desire ISO and Flash Quality

Here are some sample images taken to show the varying quality from good quality 100 ISO to very noisy useless 800 ISO. Unfortunately the Desire doesn't show the shutter speed in the EXIF data so we can't see how this affects things, but you have to hold the camera very steady in dim light conditions with the better quality 100 or 200 ISO settings. These pictures were taken with fairly bright indoor lighting.

Desire 100 ISO sample
100 ISO
Desire 200 ISO sample
200 ISO
Desire 400 ISO sample
400 ISO
Desire 800 ISO sample
800 ISO
HTC Desire Photo Sample With Flash

Flash

The flash is a single, pretty puny LED flash. This shot gives you an idea of the effectiveness in an almost pitch dark room.

HTC Desire Camera Menu Screenshots

Here are a series of screenshots showing the various menus of the HTC Desire's camera.

HTC Desire Camera Screenshot

Screenshot of the camera app on the HTC Desire. Touch the icon in the top right to toggle the flash between On, Auto and Off. The icon below that displays the zoom wheel (see Camera Zoom Wheel below). At the bottom right is a thumbnail displaying the previously taken pictures. Press it to bring up the camera gallery.

HTC Desire Camera Zoom Function

After pressing the Zoom button, swipe the zoom wheel up and down to zoom in and out. Not by much though!

HTC Desire Camera Mode Menu

Switch between camcorder and camera apps.

HTC Desire Camera Brightness Menu

Exposure compensation wheel setting.

HTC Desire Camera Image Properties

Image properties. Changing the contrast, saturation and sharpness here change the image in realtime.

HTC Desire Camera Effects Menu

The usual image effects including greyscale and sepia that you'll probably only ever play with once.

Desire Settings Menu

The settings menu has loads of lovely settings to play with. White balance is probably the most useful that is notable in its absence from some lower end phones. ISO can be set to 100, 200, 400, 800 or left on automatic. Higher ISO settings allow bright pictures to be taken in low light conditions, but they become very grainy and noisy on the Desire's small lens. Resolution can be set to 5Mp, 3Mp, 1Mp or 0.3Mp. All these screenshots are with the widescreen setting ON. Switching it OFF reverts back to the traditional 4:3 aspect and creates black bars on the left and right sides of the display. Quality can be set between High, Fine or Normal. See the picture quality section above for more info on this.

Desire Settings Menu

Self-timer simply displays a countdown on the screen for either 2 or 10 seconds. Geo-tagging is a great feature of newer GPS enabled phones such as the HTC Desire, which embeds the photo's EXIF data with the GPS coordinates of the location the shot was taken. Then, when you load the photos into software such as Picasa/Google Photos, you can display a map with a point showing where the picture was taken. Metering Mode determines how the Desire automatically determine the exposure time to use. You might want to change this if you were taking a photo of a dark object with a bright sky behind, otherwise you would find the object becomes black. Read more about Metering Mode. Review Duration determines how long the image is displayed on screen after you take a photo before being ready to take the next photo. Flicker Adjustment can be set to 50Hz, 60Hz or left on automatic, and I think reduces flicker when you have a light flickering at a similar frequency, such as a CRT monitor or a fluorescent tube light.

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Desire Settings Menu

Auto-Focus, when switched on, will decide which part of the frame to focus on, which no doubt will not be the point you want to focus on. Much better is to switch auto-focus OFF, and instead press on the area of the screen you want to focus on, which will then auto-focus on your chosen point. Very clever. Even more clever is Face Detection which you can use if you leave auto-focus on. It will draw a box round each face in the frame, and will follow faces around the frame and try to use those as the auto-focus point. It works brilliantly! Shutter Sound lets you switch off the pointless, annoying camera click sound and Time-Stamp imprints the date and time onto the bottom right of your photos, like your old compact camera used to do. Grid simple draws some points on the screen allowing you to see exactly where the centre is and straighten the frame up.

Comments

26 comments so far (post your own)

I don't agree with your findings regarding the quality of the camera. For a 5mp camera, the quality should be better. I found that a large amount of fine detail in pictures was simply not there - look at the grass in the classic cars picture for an example.

This lack of detail with the camera was one of the main reasons I sent my Desire back for a refund. My Nokia 3.2mp camera actually takes better quality pics.

Posted by Brian Buckley on Tuesday, 18/05/10 @ 23:16pm | #257

ADMIN REPLY

I will admit that it's not the best camera, but it isn't bad, especially for an HTC phone. I agree, the top-end Nokia (and Sony Ericsson) phones have better cameras too. I did put the examples here so you could make your own mind up though. Shame you sent the HTC back, it's a superb phone! Out of interest, which Nokia are you comparing it to?

Posted by Jack Frost on Tuesday, 18/05/10 @ 23:48pm | #258

Actually it's not a particularly high-end Nokia - it's a 6303 Classic which cost me about 100 sim-free last year. It's camera is by no means perfect, but even with a lower pixel count the quality's much better than the Desire's.

Don't get me wrong - the HTC Desire is a nice phone and in the week or so that I had it it seemed to do everything very well, but the camera's a let-down. Maybe they'll improve it with a firmware update as a lot of people also think it's poor.

Posted by Brian Buckley on Wednesday, 19/05/10 @ 00:02am | #259

ADMIN REPLY

I have tested a Nokia 6303 and I've found the opposite to be true. The camera quality was way behind that of the HTC Desire. The difference in 3 to 5 megapixels is not much but I found a very strange mottled or stippled noise effect close-up on the 6303's pictures.

I can see how people might criticise the Desire's camera though as it's a top of the range phone, but perhaps a mid-range camera.

Posted by Jack Frost on Wednesday, 19/05/10 @ 10:42am | #261

I agree with Jack. juz got my new htc desire and i think the camera is as good as, if not better than, my old n97. what i like about the htc desire is that it offers touch to focus which is not available on n97 as i sometimes found the photos out of focus. not to mention the speed of the desire's camera is a lot faster and it offers way more features than the nokia phones.
ps. i have always wanted an android phone but the quality of the htc camera had put me off.. waited for so long until the desire came along and it definitely didn't disappoint me=)

Posted by Steven on Friday, 4/06/10 @ 01:44am | #303

I think the camera is the biggest let down. I fail to believe it is 5 MP. I had a sony ericsson w810i, with a 2MP camera (and its walkman phone not a camera phone K series) which takes WAY better photos than Desire

I am utterly disappointed. It is not just the resolution, it is high end optics and digital work that probably makes the cut and sony has extraordinarily high end technology and volumes of research to back it up. HTC Desire is a shame

I still keep the phone but I'm disappointed.

Posted by Dhruv on Wednesday, 9/06/10 @ 11:41am | #311

I agree with admin. I was / is a big SE fan. Had about 4 cybershot phones adjust say their pictures are supurb.

The Desire camera gets a 8 out of 10. It's usable.

Gentleman, choose your weapons.

or...

Horses for courses...

The desire is a great bit of kit.

Posted by will on Saturday, 7/08/10 @ 01:33am | #407

Hey,

Great review for the camera. Solved a few issues for me. Disappointed with the ISO 800, but, thing to remember, it isn't for the photographer. Still, I'll see what I can do with 100 - 200 ISO. That CLEVER manual focal point feature is something I found here. Amazing.

Cheers.

Posted by Pete on Wednesday, 18/08/10 @ 02:03am | #432

I'm so proud to contact,because i have a pocket pc mobile HTC.I need some help to configured my camera picture and video,you can send me a instruction through my email to setting my mobile and anyone can read my request if he have the solution can contact at soon as possible.I hope get back a good answer.

Posted by michael on Sunday, 22/08/10 @ 20:49pm | #442

I really enjoy my HTC Desire on 2.2 but the camera is poor. My Nokia N73 picures with 3.2MP is twice as good. When you zoom in on a 5MP picure the detail isn't there, I thought that I had the wrong settings but no. If you take a picture and touch a spot to focus the rest is out of focus all of my other cameras don't do this. I only use it for close ups.

Posted by Grant on Monday, 23/08/10 @ 15:06pm | #444

I've found that removing the small plastic lens cover from the back case of the desire gives a tremendous boost to the quality of pictures taken with this phone. The camera is actually pretty average for a 5Mp but the optical properties of the material that HTC used in the case aren't up to par.

Posted by ExeGeoff on Tuesday, 7/09/10 @ 23:47pm | #469

TBH, its a phone. Not a camera. you want a decent camera than go buy one. Remember this is just a phone....gees, didnt have cameras on phones 6 years ago

Posted by Andy on Thursday, 9/09/10 @ 18:28pm | #471

Thanks all, your reviews were very helpful. I want a top notch cameraphone with Android so I think i'll go for a SE X10 when the price drops a bit.

Posted by Armitage Shanks on Saturday, 18/09/10 @ 14:24pm | #480

My HTC DESIRE is tbe business. I am on my allotment a lot of the time and the capability to take excellent pictures with changing light levels and moving subjects (wind on flower heads, insects etc) is so readily convenient for me that my picture gallery of changing seasons on my plot is creative to the sublime. However, the lack of a Macro Mode is a real pain. I did not realise it did not have the capability. Such a shame on such a class gadget. Well done to the creater.

Posted by rodbod on Tuesday, 28/09/10 @ 18:18pm | #507

No need to say the HTC desire is great phone. I believe that buying any phone and using it for a while you will find something not to like.
Talking about the picture quality I am disappointed too. Once photo is taken it look very good on the phone screen but when downloaded to my computer or looking on my TV both are full HD 1080, I can see that quality is not as good as expected from such a phone. Hope there can be some update to fix that.
I had Nokia 82 and I have plenty of pictures taken with it and many people never believed I have use a phone to make such a great photos.
If there is anything I can do to use in better way the settings I will be grateful to anyone one to give me any tips.

Posted by Stoyan on Sunday, 17/10/10 @ 17:49pm | #537

I love my desire but the camera is really bad. My very old Sony Ericsson K800i dumbphone with 3.2 Megapixels took much better pictures.

Posted by War10ck on Tuesday, 26/10/10 @ 17:50pm | #587

Fail to see how a 5 mph camera only produces a picture of 1.6mb max!
Tried printing some pics yesterday at supermarket, machine informed me that photos were not of sufficient quality to produce a decent print!!

Posted by andy on Wednesday, 3/11/10 @ 15:31pm | #614

hi!

am planning to buy this smartphone and I want to know if the quality of the picture & video has changed after the OS upgrade from 2.1 to 2.2?

thanks

Posted by Kaloy on Wednesday, 26/01/11 @ 04:14am | #896

ADMIN REPLY

Can't help you there because I've been using custom ROMs on my Desire for ages. (Gingerbread now). I will say the quality of the camera can be improved by using a third party camera app like Vignette. That gives you settings controlling things like quality and jpeg compression level amongst other things...

Posted by Jack Frost on Wednesday, 26/01/11 @ 08:14am | #897

I've been considering the idea of getting a HTC desire for some time now but I was worried about the camera part of it since I usually have my phone instead of my camera with me at the best of times. This has convinced me. I have a nokia X2 and although the camera isnt bad, it lacks the features and quality photos you put on this review of HTC desire even though they have the same 5MP. And obviously I love apps, widgets, android and all of that. Thanks for this detailed review, I really appreciate someone actually writing a review thats useful with examples.

P.S I would like to know what's the best settings to go for on the HTC Desire in general for taking photos?

Thanks again, awesome review :)

Posted by Genevieve on Wednesday, 23/02/11 @ 07:14am | #1006

I'm with Stoyan. The camera in the Desire is by far the weakest part of this excellent phone. The camera in the Nokia N82 is in a different league. I would constantly pull out the N82 to take snapshots but with the Desire I simply don't bother. Every picture taken with it so far has been a disappointment.

Thanks ExeGeoff. Removing the plastic lens in the back cover does indeed make a big difference. I doubt it will bring the phone into N82 territory, but it is too soon to tell.

Posted by Gisli on Thursday, 21/04/11 @ 17:02pm | #1218

I've had my desire for nearly a year now, my brother has a N95 and when i bought my Desire we actually sat down and compared both cameras. The Desire is way better than the nokia in any condition, the only thing is that you have to "cut" the picture to be able to print on the usual 6x4 size.

@ Brian Buckley:
Only haters or people that had an 8MP camera before can say that the camera in the Desire is useless... C'mon man... How can you say the camera in that 6303 is better than the Desire? Even my old K800, (the one my 6 year old daughter uses to play with her mates)is way, way better than that nokia!!

Posted by Miguel on Tuesday, 26/04/11 @ 17:26pm | #1234

I love my HTC desire phone, my sister and cousin have one also, and my husband has a HTC HD2, and truth be told the camera is the worst feature. After only a couple of months my sister and cousin lost the flash, does not work at all. And just recently my sister and I lost the camera on our phone's within days of each other. Dissappointed, to say the least... as I am a fan of the HTC. Can you tell me how, or if I can get this fixed at all..

Posted by belle on Sunday, 12/06/11 @ 13:28pm | #1340

I have htc dezire. I use the camera for family pics and videos.the problem is when i go to the camera to review them, some have disappeared...?????why and where. Also sometimes just a rectangle with an ! Inside of it. Is my card too small to desplay them? Many thanks if someone can help me.

Posted by PM on Sunday, 11/12/11 @ 02:36am | #2230

ADMIN REPLY

I would say your micro sd card is dying. Get a new one!

Posted by Jack Frost on Sunday, 11/12/11 @ 10:33am | #2233

I have a HTC Desire Z. I am deeply disappointed with the camera. It seems to be the same camera as in the Desire, except there is no option for choosing quality (High, Fine, Normal). Close-up photos in good lighting are mostly OK, but things like lanscape picture are just horrible; no sharpness, just grain. All jpg files produced by the HTC Desire Z are maximum 85% compression, and I cannot understand why they shose this horrible quality as standard.

Posted by Mikael Sjodin on Thursday, 23/02/12 @ 19:03pm | #3374

Comments offline. Sorry, too many spams.