“The BlackBerry Leap’s shooters don’t really boggle the mind, but you know what they say about the camera in your pocket…”
BlackBerry’s smartphone offerings tend to focus quite a bit on the productivity side of things, but that doesn’t mean they skimp on other features. In fact, the likes of the BlackBerry Z10 , the Z30 and the Passport (camera review | review) have boasted very compelling shooting capabilities. However, the mid-range Z3 (review) failed to impress us when it came to the camera department. The BlackBerry Leap (first impressions) is yet another mid-range contender from the brand, and while it saw first light of day at MWC, has just been launched in India. We’ll be taking it through our review grind shortly, but we’ve already had a chance to try out its snappers. The Leap sports an 8-megapixel autofocus shooter at the rear, while a 2MP camera adorns the front.
The camera app, as we’ve seen on BB OS 10 devices before, is the same minimalistic affair as before. Apart from a bunch of scene modes covering stuff like action, night and beach, it offers modes like panorama and HDR, and the very nifty Time Shift mode that lets you go back in time to choose the best from a sequence of portrait shots. We love the fact that the add prompts you to choose settings depending upon shooting conditions, such as asking you to switch to the HDR mode when it detects contrasting light. Let’s make the Leap’s cameras leap through a variety of different conditions, and see how they fare in real life.
Captured as part of the BlackBerry Leap camera test, the above image shows decent detail and colours, but isn’t as sharp as we’d have preferred. Still, despite the strong sunlight, the image looks nice and very usable.
Our favourite close-up subjects captured at close quarters, these flowers look quite nice too. The colours have come out well, and there’s a lovely depth-of-field effect too. Let’s see how the flowers look when the image is magnified.
Close up (zoomed)
Up close, we see a little softening around the edges of the flower petals, which doesn’t bode well as far the shooting capabilities of the Leap are concerned.
This is a lovely daylight shot from the Leap’s primary shooter, and while this was shot in auto, our main intention is to find out what happens when the HDR mode is turned on. Notably, the app was prompting us to do exactly that when we shot this, and we dutifully obliged.
Judging from the above, it’s clear that the HDR mode works quite well to highlight the darker portions of the scene. The foliage immediately behind the pool that was in the shadows before, looks much better, and so do the trees in the distance.
Here’s a sample from the 2MP front shooter of the BlackBerry Leap, and we can say it looks reasonably good. The front camera should be good enough for video calls, and also for the occasional selfie or two.
Connaught Place in New Delhi really comes alive at night, and this is exactly what we hoped to capture in this shot. Apart from the softness and slight noise, we’d say that the Leap did manage to do a fair job.
Shot indoors in very dim lighting, this image has turned out all dark and blurry. Clearly, the Leap won’t work too well if you’re a party animal and shoot a lot of photos in dim lighting. Let’s see what happens when the flash is turned on.
Low light (with flash)
Switching the flash on saved us from breaking our heads with this shot, which is just as well since our subject is in fact, a helmet. The image is quite sharp, and the glossy paint on the helmet justifies the light reflection. Overall, not too bad.
To sum up, the BlackBerry Leap offers mixed results as far its shooting capabilities are concerned – reasonably good in daylight and for HDR, but not really impressive in low light or close ups. Still, we’re hoping the device will fare better in our full review… helping it leap right back into the reckoning.