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BlackBerry Motion Camera Review: Secure shooter for private pics

We test out the BlackBerry Motion’s 12-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front-facing camera, complete with photo and video samples for you to check out.

While many mobile manufacturers these days are slapping dual lens cameras on their smartphones, BlackBerry has stuck with a traditional single lens snapper on the back of the Motion. That 12-megapixel ‘large pixel’ camera offers an f/2.0 aperture lens with Phase Detection Autofocus. You also get an 8-megapixel f/2.2 aperture selfie camera, for those mug shots.

We’ve taken the BlackBerry Motion for a test drive, to see how good that camera tech really is for shooting photos and video in a range of conditions.

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BlackBerry Motion camera review: App and features

If you want to jump straight into the Motion’s camera app for an impromptu shot, you can simply double-tap the power button whenever you like. This immediately opens the camera, ready for shooting. There’s only a second or so delay as standard and this method even works when the phone is sleeping.

Alternatively, you can quick-load the camera app using the BlackBerry Motion’s convenience key, housed beneath the power button on the right edge of the phone. This also has you ready to shoot in just a second, although it doesn’t work from hibernation.

If you’ve used another recent Blackberry handset, the interface will immediately be familiar. There’s quite a lot of functionality right there on screen, including some fast-access filters, toggles for the likes of HDR and the dual LED flash, and the modes option to switch to the various camera features.

These features include the video mode, a slow motion video option, panorama photos and a scanner mode. Scanner can be used to capture the likes of business cards and documents, although the mode only appears to actually read the text and copy the information for cards. This info can then be converted into a new contact entry. It’s definitely a hit-and-miss affair and more complex or uniquely designed cards often flummox it. Even with basic card layouts, you’ll need to do some tweaking before you save.

One unique privacy feature which sets the Motion’s camera apart from rivals is the locker mode. This allows you to use fingerprint sensor to take a photo instead of the shutter button, which then securely stores your snap. No sharing with Google Photos or any online services, while you can only view it locally with another scan of your print.

However, in our testing this feature only worked sporadically. Sometimes tapping our print from all kinds of angles simply didn’t do a thing, while other times it functioned perfectly.

Dive into the settings and you’ll find a solid manual mode, which allows full control over ISO levels, white balance, shutter speed and so on. You can also activate face detection, tell the Motion where to save your pics and so on.

BlackBerry Motion camera review: Photo quality

Tap that shutter button and a photo normally takes with only a brief delay, providing the lighting conditions are okay. That’s helped by the swift Phase Detection Autofocus, which looks onto your subject quickly. If you have HDR mode activated however, you’ll need to wait another second or so before you can take a new shot, while the BlackBerry Motion processes the previous image.

Daylight shots come packed with detail, looking good no matter how big the screen you view them on. Colours are reproduced with impressive accuracy, so more vibrant scenes really stand out. No artificial boosting or similar skewing.

The shutter struggles occasionally with fast-moving subjects, however. Hyperactive kids in particular are often at least partially blurred in shots, even in perfect lighting conditions.

Strong contrast isn’t an issue thanks to the capable HDR feature. This might slow down shot taking, but it’s certainly effective when snapping against bright skies and such.

That said, in low light the BlackBerry Motion’s f/2.0 aperture lens battles to capture any kind of detail. Photos usually look murky, while colours are muted. Thankfully that dual LED flash which sits alongside the rear camera does a solid job of illuminating a scene when needed.

Check out some more of our test photo samples from the BlackBerry Motion below.

BlackBerry Motion camera review: Video quality

The Motion allows you to capture video at Full HD resolution at 30 or 60 frames-per-second, or Ultra HD 4K resolution at either 24 or 30 frames-per-second. You can use enhanced image stabilisation as long as you don’t go above Full HD 30FPS.

As far as simple home movies go, the Motion captures detailed footage with respectable results. You’ll notice the occasional issue such as lens flare popping up in bright conditions, although we’re more troubled by the lack of proper image stabilisation. Even at Full HD levels with the ‘enhanced image stabilisation’ active, things aren’t too smooth when you’re walking and shooting at the same time.

If you’re after a capable video recorder at this price point, the OnePlus 5 proves more successful.

Check out our BlackBerry Motion video samples below.

BlackBerry Motion camera review: Selfies

The 8-megapixel camera housed around the front of the BlackBerry Motion does a respectable job of taking selfies.

As long as you’re not shooting against a bright background, you generally get quite detailed results. Even in low light, our photos matched rivals around this price point, although sunny conditions often mean some oversaturation.

You also get a ‘screen flash’ mode for when it gets seriously dark, which often does the job nicely - occasionally you’ll come out looking like a malevolent spirit, but usually skin tones are naturally captured and detail levels are again decent.

Check out our sample selfies below.

 

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