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BlackBerry Passport Review - Camera Review

On paper the camera specs for the Passport sound pretty decent. There’s a 13-megapixel camera with optical image stabilization to aid low-light shooting, an LED flash and a 5-element f2.0 lens. You can also shoot a maximum 1080p HD video. Up front there’s a 2-megapixel camera sensor that supports 720p HD video recording.
 
In practice, you can take some good pictures but there are elements, like the slow autofocus and a disappointing HDR mode, that leave it falling short. Having to press and hold on the camera shortcut to launch means you can’t quickly jump into camera mode as quick as we’d like as well.
 
Shooting photos is set up in a 4:3 ratio although you can change to shoot in 16:9 or 1:1 in the camera app. It’s a pretty simple app to use, except you can’t comfortably use it in one hand. It’s simply too much of a stretch to reach over to the settings where you can adjust flash, turn on HDR mode and set-up a timer. There’s also additional time shift, burst and panorama shooting modes plus the ability to add face detection, display grid lines, add video stabilization and continuous video focus.

Close up shots really struggle and that’s down to the sluggish autofocus and shutter speeds. We rarely managed to capture any really good examples. It took us several attempts before getting something as sharp as the image below as we often found the subject was soft and out of focus.

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Move further back and with bright enough conditions, things get better. There’s a good amount of detail and sharpness in the image below, and there’s not a great deal of noise to contend with here.

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Here’s another good example where with the good light you can get some decent photos

It’s not great for night-time shooting, however. There’s still a considerable amount of noise and it really struggles to resolve the dark sky against the bright street lighting.

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HDR mode is normally the saviour for bad-performing cameras, although with the Passport it doesn’t really work out like that. As the photos below show, the pick up in light is good but not fantastic when HDR is turned on. Additionally, it takes a few more seconds to capture in HDR and you need to keep that phone steady.
 
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HDR mode off

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HDR mode on

For video recording, it’s set to 720p quality as default, so you’ll need to adjust in the settings to shoot in Full HD. There’s video stabilization to prevent footage from looking a juddery mess and a torch mode to aid low-light shooting. Images are nice and sharp and there’s good audio capture plus the video stabilization comes in handy when you are quickly swinging the phone from one place to the next.

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