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One of my favorite features with owning a Windows Phone is the dedicated camera button that is standard on every handset. Both the Samsung Focus and the HTC Arrive offer a two-step button, allowing for a pre-focus before taking the picture. Both buttons are easy to use and act as you would expect, but I do prefer the Samsung Focus camera button, as it is a little larger, and easier to press. That having been said, the HTC Arrive has better button placement. I have found that when someone tries to take picture with my phone for the first time, they almost always accidentally hit the search or home button with their thumb; something that would be very hard and awkward to do on the Arrive. But once someone masters the controls, the most important question is whether or not the camera takes a good picture. Read on past the break for side by side comparisons.


A Quick Note

Pictures were prepared in a side by side manner and then simultaneously compressed and resized by Photoshop. So while these are no long their original size, and have been compressed, they were done so together and therefore one should have not suffered from the process more than the other. 

Pictures were taken with the standard settings (whatever they are upon first launching the camera), except for the macro shot. Interestingly, the Focus has a menu option just for enabling and disabling macro, while the Arrive lumps it in with the scene modes.

Harsh Back-lighting

In this photo I put the subject (guitar) in front of the bright light of the windows behind. This is a nightmare for any camera, and represents some of the hardest conditions to get a good picture. It would appear, as you will see is a common theme throughout the pictures, that the HTC is employing some heavy sharpening, as the guitar has much crisper lines compared to a somewhat blurry picture on the left. It also appears that the Arrive is over-saturating the picture. If you look at the couch, it is obvious that some form of heavy post processing is going on. While the Focus is not as sharp as I would prefer, the colors are pretty natural and overall good for such a hard situation.
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Natural Side Light

For this picture I opened the nearby door to make the natural light the dominant lighting in the picture. This time the Focus managed to get a better focus on the guitar, while the Arrive is slightly out of Focus. If you look at the strap you will see that the Arrive offers a more vibrant color, but to my eyes appears over saturated. Also if you look at the couch cushions, you will see less noise in the Focus shot. Overall, pretty comparable results. Both good top notch for a camera phone.
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Macro With Florescent Lighting

Here we moved to the kitchen where there is large florescent lighting overhead. I actually can't decide which one looks better to me. The Focus has slightly more natural light (accurate light - notice the white wall in the background), but feels a little too cold, while the Arrive a little too warm (yellow tinted white wall). I would probably take the Arrive shot for direct upload to Facebook, and I would probably prefer the Focus for post processing in Photoshop. Both are good macro shots with lots of detail, even in the shadows.
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Outdoors

Up here at 5000 feet in elevation, everything is still dead. So sorry, no macro shots of beautiful colorful stuff. In this one, the Arrive takes the cake. I was careful to focus on the dead bush, with half the focus point on the rust colored rail. Notice how blurry the bush is, and also the railing is a little out of focus. Notice how the Arrive offers very crisp detail in the tree trunk, all the wy tot he foreground with the railing. Both cameras handled lighting perfectly.
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Video

At this time I can not offer a side by side comparison. The Focus seems to be shooting video at 23.976 fps (standard frame rate), while the Arrive is shooting at exactly 24 fps (not standard). When put into the same timeline, they did not play well with each other. I will have to look more into this.

As another note of interest. The Arrive records at just under 9mbs (no control over detail), while the Focus records at about 6.5mbs (detail set to finest). The Focus offers more control over the lighting in video, while the Focus offers more control over focusing and metering. I would like to see the options that both offer all on one phone, as they are all very useful functions to have control over.

Conclusion

I still need to test how both handle night shots. Both cameras are very good. I believe the Focus has the better camera, as I prefer more natural shots that I can then go post process. It seems like the HTC is trying to target a more mass consumer who might not want to do their own post processing. Both handsets come free with photo effects software. The HTC software is superior in almost every way - which is to be expected as HTC has a pretty big in house software development studio. The Samsung however has a cool "HDR" effect that the HTC does not, and it works really well for a fake HDR effect. Both handsets offer a very solid picture taking experience. You can't go wrong with either of them.

Check back through the weekend for more comparisons.

 


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