After playing with ZTE Blade Android phone for few days I'm ready to write the review. What I have used to do is to take pictures on daily bases. I have done so at 365 Photo group for almost a year now, and learned a lot on photography. What I like most is using a mobile camera phone for shooting because I always have camera phone with me. …
Hardware and operating system
I was pleased to find out the camera is much better than I expected. There's 5 MP camera on ZTE Blades sold in Finland and they run on Android 2.1. There is a noticeable noise on pictures taken in difficult light conditions but it is still acceptable, especially if you are using some special effects to enhance the photos.
When shooting against bright light(s), very likely there will be some flares and reflections. Like noise, this can be either good or bad. From artistic point of view I kind of wish to get some "toy camera" look into the pictures and then the possible flare and reflections just makes the pictures more interesting. When I wish to get perfect pictures, I can very well use my DSLR.
Android 2.1 is probably causing number of issues that makes the operating of camera and software somewhat a challenge. There's quite long shutter lag when picture is taken. Therefore this is no good for someone who wish to shoot action. For me it does not matter so much because I usually shoot "things" that stay still.
Maybe because of the version of operating system I have, there's no simple way to remove the shutter sound. This was implemented on mobile phone cameras to avoid pictures of people taken without they notices it. Once again this is no big problem for me but I must say the sound really is loud. Took awhile to get used to it myself.
Moreover, maybe because of operating system and amount of memory, there comes situations when camera software just crashes. This may happen when too many pictures taken in a row. Only way around this is to restart the phone and whole operating system.
ZTE Blade comes with Android 2.1 camera software, which is somewhat limited. Only advantage it has is the EV correction, which I have not found on any other software I have tested so far. EV correction is especially useful to have when you wish for example overexpose the winter scene, where bright white snow usually fool the light meter to shoot too dim pictures.
I highly recommend to buy a camera software called as Vignette. It is by far the best Android camera software available. It gives plenty of "filters" to enhance the pictures with all kinds of effects like: vignetting, toning, double exposure etc. What makes this best for me is possibility to choose the aspect ratio, which is not available on many other applications. Moreover, the effects are highly adjustable. Vignette is also available for free but it only saves pictures in 0.3 MP size.
Another useful photography software is Camera 360. There you may find the free adware version good enough for special purposes, which are only available on Camera 360. One of them is highly adjustable "tilt & shift" effect that makes it possible to take pictures where the depth of field looks very very short. This feature is also available on Vignette but it's far better implemented on Camera 360.
These two applications should satisfy your most photography needs. There are also applications that makes it possible to take stitched panorama images, but after trying one, I found out the hardware on ZTE Blade just couldn't handle the job. Anyway, I recommend testing all these camera software with free versions first, to find out what works and suits for your personal preferences.
Software to edit pictures
I spent a lot of time to find an adequate post processing software for Android. What I especially need is a tool to save pictures in smaller size. I like to shoot high resolution images in case I need prints some day, but for Web it is better to have smaller images. For some strange reason Android software developers does not seem to have given much thought for that feature.
I finally found an application called Photo Enhance. It has option as simple as to save for Web, which leaves the original picture untouched and saves new smaller image into a different folder. Free version of Photo Enhance saves 1024×768 pixel images, which is just enough for my needs. Since the photography software already satisfy most of my needs, there's hardly no need to actually post process the images on the phone, but just get them smaller. Therefore I personally found no reason to buy full version of Photo Enhance.
Software to upload images on internet
This task turned out surprisingly difficult. For some strange reason Android 2.1 default browser does not have option to upload files. Luckily Opera Mini and Opera Mobile gives that option. The only problem is that at MyOpera I can only get mobile version on Opera Mini & Mobile, thus not having possibility to select the presentation size of the image on upload page. That is the one reason why I had to find a software to make the smaller Web images. Moreover, it is better to resize the image before upload especially if slow 2G network used for uploads. Usually I do the uploads at home or at work, where I can use Wifi, but very likely I will need to use 2G network as well some day.
That's it folks. These are my recommendations for using Android phone for amateur photography. Please see the results on my albums.