The camera is one of the most important features of the Lenovo NBD new glass. The ability to take POV (point of view) video and snapshots on a whim sets it apart from any other Android device to date. So, it is any good? Well, let’s explore that a little more.
The Lenovo NBD new glass comes equipped with an 8MP camera capable of taking 2592*1944 resolution images with a file size of around 1 to 2MB each. It is also able to record 1080P videos. Lenovo hasn’t mentioned the aperture size of the camera, and even with the help of some PC software, I still haven’t figured out information regarding the aperture and focus length.
Taking the shot
First of all, it should be pointed out that the new glass is all about capturing the moment — not archiving your life. The 16GB of internal storage can get you pretty far, but the headset is more of a tool for sharing life as it happens then quickly moving on. This is how the device has been designed and how it should be treated.
With the new glass, you can either press the hardware button located on top to instantly snap a photo, or you can use the touch panel to start the camera app. There is little to no shutter lag in the new glass. Clicking the shutter button almost instantly focuses and takes a shot.
The new glass rests securely on your head, which is the most stable part of your body, which ensures that you can always get stabilized shots. The fact that the camera is always facing the same direction your eyes are looking at means you’ll always be ready for whatever life throws at you, never missing any precious moment, the only thing you need to do it to press the camera button. There’s no digging into your pocket, unlocking your phone, opening up the camera app, holding your hand steady, then pressing the onscreen shutter button.
The biggest difference users will have to get used to when taking pictures with the new glass is simply framing the shot. There is absolutely no live preview, meaning the new glass users go into every shot blindly. Simply press the camera button and hope for the best. After spending two weeks and taking more than 1000 photos with the new glass, I’ve gotten used to it.
Most of us have been somewhat spoiled with the camera hardware of modern smartphones. Settings, HDR, Panorama, time lapse photos — all these features already turn our smartphones into incredibly versatile little shooters. However, with the new glass, there’s no LED flash, no digital zoom, no settings of any kind. This is raw, uncensored, shoot from the hip head digital photography at its finest. Of course, shooting in the dark is all but useless with the new glass, and not being able to tweak saturation, exposure, contrast, white balance, etc. may also be disappointing for some.
I will say, the new glass does deliver decent performance in its default auto mode. Let’s talk more about camera quality.
Camera quality with the glass is good, although not exceptional. It was actually capable of some pretty decent camera shots. Sure they can be a bit grainy, under or over-exposed at times, and turn to absolute rubbish in low-light, but so will most smartphone cameras. In decent lighting, color reproduction and sharpness are true-to-life and while it’s not a wide-angle lens, you’ll be surprised at how much the new glass can fit into a shot.
But when it comes to taking shots under direct mid-day sunlight in summer, the new glass fails to live up to our expectations. More than half of the shots are over-exposed, some even end up being totally washed out. It often takes several attempts to get a shot that’s usable.
After the shot
Once you enable the “back up” function in your settings, all your photos and videos will be backed up to Baidu Cloud as soon as you’re connected to WiFi. The new glass doesn’t provide a gallery app, instead all your photos and videos are simply displayed in a timeline. Whenever a photo is taken, you will have 3 options: sharing it on social media, backing it up, or deleting it.
Alright, I know this is what you have been waiting for, now we get into camera comparisons. We use the cameras on the mighty LG G3, the HTC Desire + (2014 Edition) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 to compare with the 8 mega-pixel snapper on the new glass. Although we don’t really expect the new glass to win against cameras of high-end smartphones like the LG G3, we felt like it would make for a good comparison shootout. Let’s get started.
The new glass camera performs as well as the camera on the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 in terms of photo quality, and it is a compliment as the 8 mega-pixel snapper on the Tab Pro is the best camera I have seen on any tablet. With that said, the touch-focus, HDR, digital zooming and settings in the camera app allows you to get a much higher percentage of usable shots with the Tab Pro 8.4.
When compared with budget to middle-end smartphones such as the HTC Desire + (2014 Edition), the new glass easily blows the opponent out of the water. The 13MP camera on the HTC Desire + is no match for the new glass camera in almost every aspect. While the color reproduction and sharpness of the new glass shots are true to life, the photos taken by the HTC Desire + appeared flat and unnatural.
Even when we compared it with flagship smartphones such as the LG G3, the Lenovo NBD new glass held its ground. The LG G3’s camera let in a lot more light and with that, a few extra colors as well. However, both appear somewhat evenly matched in terms of detail from far away.
Only when you zoom in that you can see the G3 captures slightly more details than the new glass.
The Lenovo NBD new glass is capable of recording videos at Full HD 1080p and 30 frames per second. This is one of the areas where it handily beats the Google Glass, which is only capable of taking 720P videos. Videos taken both outdoor and indoor are pretty high-quality on the visual side, everything is sharp and clear, with nice color contrast and balance, but the sound side is less satisfying as the audio recorded is mono only (not stereo), it sounds uncomfortably piercing, and not so clear, either. This is normally not too much of an issue, but I found it pretty annoying while recording some live performances at the audition of “The Voice”.
All-in-all, I would say that the new glass fared quite well in the head-to-head, taking nice shots and producing almost film-like quality photos and videos in normal lighting. When it came to photo-shooting in bright, mid-summer daylight, the new glass camera didn’t deliver, as there were simply too many washed-out, unusable shots.
Right now the new glass is adequate and should fulfill the needs of those who merely want to take some quick snapshots to share on social networks, but the over-exposed issue is something Lenovo NBD should consider improving when they release future firmware upgrades.
Below are some other photos taken by the Lenovo NBD new glass: