Fingers on shutters for our HTC Desire HD camera test

The HTC Desire HD tops off its huge screen and powerful Android OS with an 8-megapixel camera. Compare the mega-phone's shots to a compact camera and an iPhone 4.

Flora Graham
4 min read

The HTC Desire HD is a megalithic smart phone that packs in a 4.3-inch screen and the latest 2.2 Froyo version of the Android operating system. But it's not just a fantastic uber-phone -- it also sports an 8-megapixel camera and dual LED photo lights. 

But forget about the specs race -- we're here to let the pixels do the talking. We've pitted the camera on the Desire HD against a decent compact camera, the Fujifilm FinePix J150w. This is a 10-megapixel snapper that can beat a camera phone with one f-stop tied behind its back, and it's the kind of cheap compact that many people would carry in their pocket. 

We've also snuck in a few comparisons with the smart phone of the moment, the iPhone 4. The iPhone has a 5-megapixel sensor and one LED light.

We've slapped the images together so you can compare them more easily. Click the pictures to see them larger, or if you want to see the original, full-sized pics, there are links below the images. All photos were taken with fully automatic, default settings.

First, let's check out some pumpkins, in celebration of autumn.

This image does a good job showing off the Desire HD's love of saturation, with the orange pumpkins showing brighter and stronger than in the photo from the compact camera. Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photo, and here for the full-sized camera photo.

Colour in the theme again in these photos of cleaning bottles.

The Desire HD doesn't capture the reflections and semi-transparent bottles as sharply as the camera, but it makes a good attempt. This photo also shows how the Desire HD's 3,264x1,952-pixel default picture size doesn't have as wide an angle as the camera. The photos were taken from the same spot, but the Desire HD doesn't capture as much of this thrilling scene.

Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photo, and here for the full-sized camera photo. Now it's tree time.

Not only does the camera capture more of the scene in this photo, the detail of the bark is more visible in shadow. The Desire HD tends to lose detail to contrast. We think the Desire HD's saturated colours better suit the autumn foliage, though. Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photo, and here for the full-sized camera photo.

Indoors, the Desire HD continued to impress us, and our tiny Mountie bobblehead. 

The Desire HD does a good job of snagging the detail on the top of the hamburger phone, although there's more noise than in the camera photo. The table has also acquired a blueish reflection. Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photo, and here for the full-sized camera photo.

Now it's time to bring in some competition that's more the Desire HD's own size. The iPhone 4 isn't the greatest camera phone out there, but it is a very popular way to take shots and it's also the best competition for the Desire HD's smart phone features.

The iPhone 4 struggles to focus on this scene compared to the Desire HD, and its colours are even more excessively punchy. Compare to the iPhone, the red table looks much more in tune with the camera's version. Close-up, neither phone comes close to the camera at capturing the texture of the felt, but the Desire HD trumps the iPhone handily. Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photo, here for the full-sized iPhone shot and here for the full-sized camera photo.

Mountie bobbleheads and trees are happy to stand still for shots, but what about people? After all, they're what most of our photos feature. It's time to check out some flesh tones.

Both phones' love of over-saturated colours play havoc with our model's fair complexion, although we can't blame it for her maniacal thumbs-upping. The Desire HD's unusual photo size and limited size of field make a significant difference to the final photo, and it may be one that regular photographers will have to get used to.

Click here for the full-sized Desire HD photohere for the full-sized iPhone shot and here for the full-sized camera photo.

Overall, we were impressed with the Desire HD's shots. It's also easy to use, and it takes photos quickly, with barely any shutter lag. Because of its vast screen, it's no smaller than a compact camera, but it will save you from hauling around another gadget when you're on the go. 

We wouldn't choose the Desire HD for capturing our best shots of a lifetime, but no camera phone can do that. We'd be happy to depend on the Desire HD to capture spontaneous moments, bobbleheads, piles of pumpkins and other daily  thrills. 

Update: You rightly pointed out in the comments that if a camera can't capture us throwing some shapes in a dark club, what's the point. Since Flora believes one should never be photographed dancing, Luke provides the model magic.

Although two LED flashes sounds great, they are a detail-obliterating overkill when the room is very dark. Without the flash, the compact camera really shows its superiority. In the dark, the Desire HD's photos are grainy and noisy.

Here are the full-size photos from the Desire HD with flash, the camera with flash, the Desire HD without flash, and the camera without flash