Taking a closer look at the camera of the HTC One M8

HTC's latest smartphone stands out from the crowd with a unique "duo camera" setup. These are the new features you need to know about.

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These days most people barely use their phones to actually make phone calls. We're busy tweeting, texting, and, most importantly, snapping pictures. Image quality and photo features have become main selling points for a lot of smartphone buyers. Unlike Samsung, Nokia, and Sony, who continue to push megapixel counts higher and higher, HTC is banking on its new "duo camera" to win customers over.

The company's latest flagship device, the HTC One M8, is equipped with a 5-inch 1080p full HD display, a speedy 2.3GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, and 2GB of RAM. Staying in line with its predecessor, the HTC One M8 includes an "Ultrapixel" rear camera, which in reality is a 4-megapixel camera with better low-light performance.

A second depth-of-field sensor sits above the main camera, though, which gives users the ability to refocus their photos after they take them. The sensor can also be used for a number of other new features. Here's what you need to know about the camera on the HTC One M8:

UFocus

The UFocus tool utilizes the depth-of-field sensor to deliver a Lytro-like refocusing feature. Images taken in auto mode can be refocused with a simple tap of the finger. The tool can be found in the phone's gallery app. Simply select the image you would like to alter, click the Edit option at the lower-right side of the screen, choose Effects, and then UFocus.

m8-refocus.png
Screenshot by Dan Graziano/CNET

Foreground and Seasons

The Foreground and Seasons tools use the depth-of-field sensor to identify the different layers in your photo and apply special effects to them. The Foreground tool has four options: Sketch, Zoom Blur, Cartoon, and Colorize. The Sketch option will apply a graphite sketch to the background of your image, the Zoom Blur will dramatically blur everything around the focused object, Cartoon will make the background more cartoonish, and Colorize will change the background to black and white.

m8-cartoon.jpg
Dan Graziano/CNET

The Seasons feature can be used to add life to your photos, literally. Four options -- Sakura, Dandelion, Maple Leaf, and Snow -- will add a seasonal flair to your images. Flowers, leaves, and snow will fall from the top of the photo, which can then be saved as a video or a static image.

m8-seasonal.jpg
Dan Graziano/CNET

Both the Foreground and Seasons features can be accessed in the Effects menu in the phone's gallery app.

Dimension Plus

The Dimension Plus tool uses the depth of field sensor to give you a sort of 3D view of your images. Tilting your phone will change your perspective of the image and give you a sense of depth that is similar to Apple's parallax wallpaper. These images can then be saved at a new angle, or as a Dimension Plus file for later viewing.

The Dimension Plus feature is found next to the Foreground and Seasons tools in the Effects menu of the gallery. It should be noted, however, that these features are not available for burst photos, while using the Zoe Camera, or in a mode like HDR, portrait, or landscape. In fact, the UFocus, Foreground, Seasons, and Dimension Plus features are available only for photos taken in auto-mode.

Touch-up

There is also a basic, Photoshop-esque Touch-up feature for editing photos of people. The tool can be used to smooth a person's skin, contour their face, remove red eye, alter the shape of their eyes, and to get rid of any extra shine. Other features include a number of Instagram-like filters and frames, as well as tools for cropping, rotating, and flipping images.

 

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