Google has just released its native app, Google Camera, on Google App Store. One of its features is Lens Blur. As the name implies, it blurs up part of the picture simulating a shallow depth of field (DOF). If you look at HTC One (M8) camera, it already has this feature, UFOCUS. So, which is better?
I did a series of simple tests with 2 objects (one in foreground, one in background). All the pictures here are resized to fit into this blog space.
Using the native HTC One (M8) camera and the Google Camera App to take a picture.
HTC One (M8) Standard Camera
Google Camera App in Standard Mode
Capturing image with HTC One (M8) camera and edit with UFOCUS and capturing image with Google Camera App with Lens Blur feature turned on.
HTC One (M8) and edit with UFOCUS
Google Camera App with Lens Blur feature
Capturing image with HTC One (M8) camera and edit with UFOCUS to focus on background and capturing image with Google Camera App with Lens Blur feature turned on and edited to focus on background.
HTC One (M8) and edit with UFOCUS on Background
Google Camera App with Lens Blur feature (Background)
- Both UFOCUS (I will now address HTC One (M8) UFOCUS as UFOCUS) and Lens Blur can create DOF images that are common on DSLR or on camera with large sensors.
- Both can refocus anywhere on the image.
- Both are using algorithm to simulate the image.
- UFOCUS is “shoot first, edit later” feature while Lens Blur is a “set first, shoot later” feature.
- UFOCUS is “Shoot as it is” while Lens Blur is “Shoot and Shift the lens” – You will need to shift the camera while using Lens Blur (to get data for simulating DOF). UFOCUS shoot as it is as it has 2 hardware lenses to do the job of gathering information.
- UFOCUS cannot adjust DOF while Lens Blur has this feature.
- Here is an image with Google Lens Blur set at Maximum
- UFOCUS do not change the image resolution (means always at 4 MPX) when utilizing the UFOCUS feature. Lens Blur will reduce the image resolution in this feature mode.
Overall, it is great that Google open up the app to everyone (with KitKat Android 4.4) as it now transforms everyone Android camera to be able to shoot professional looking pictures. However, in terms of practicality, it is not so convenient. Taking a picture with this feature has to be pre-planned. You will need to set the camera to Lens Blur mode, shift the camera lens while shooting the picture, and the object/subject must be stationary.
Compare to HTC One (M8) UFOCUS, every images can use the UFOCUS (as long as it is not digitally zoom, not in macro mode, and in good lighting condition). This is due to the hardware advantages (2 rear lenses). Images can be taken quickly and even when object/subject is moving.
So, which is better? If you are not holding on to the HTC One (M8), the Google Camera app is the next best thing to have. BTW, it is free to download.
If you have different opinion, just let me know 🙂