Review: BlackBerry 9800 Torch
The BlackBerry camera software continues to be fairly basic. Leaving the side convenience key set to launch the camera is the best and fastest way to get at it. It launches in perhaps a second or so. The Torch has a 5 megapixel camera with autofocus and an LED flash. The autofocus is set to work continuously. There is no focusing box that appears and turns green when the camera is ready. According to RIM, the Torch is always focusing as the camera is moved around. It can also be turned off (effectively setting the Torch to fixed-focus mode) or set to single-shot mode, which means it will only work once, then revert to continuous autofocus. My guess is this choice is going to confuse most people, leading them to ignore the feature.
The physical button can be used to focus and take pictures, as can a software button on the Torch's display. Some basic options can be controlled from the viewfinder without calling up a separate menu. The flash can be turned off, on or set to auto. The geo-tagging can be turned on or of. And the shooting mode can be changed, which includes a wide list of options (auto, face detection, portrait, sports, landscape, party (my FAVE!), close-up, snow, beach, night, and text). The BlackBerry key can be used to get at several other settings, such as resolution, where pictures are stored, etc.
When you want to take a picture, the Torch responds pretty quickly. It shoots and saves pictures in 1.0 - 1.5 seconds, which is about the best you can expect from a phone.
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The video camera's controls are pretty much identical.
One thing I like about the Torch's camera is that it puts a thumbnail of the most recent shot in the corner of the viewfinder. This means you can see the picture you last shot. Press it, and it opens the gallery application.
The Torch's gallery app has been redone and is much, much better than what RIM has offered in the past. Pictures can be viewed as a list, or in a grid. From the main gallery view, pictures can be selected, moved, shared, edited, and all that you expect.
Once you open a picture, you can skate through the entire gallery by swiping in either direction. Editing features are limited to rotating. Pictures can be shared via email, MMS, Bluetooth, Twitter, GoogleTalk or Facebook. That's some nice social networking integration.
I would have preferred to see some more editing features built into the gallery app. You can zoom, but not crop?
Aug 3, 2011
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