In pictures: Here's what the HTC One's dual cameras can do

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera

One of the more unusual features of the new HTC One (M8) is its dual camera setup. You've heard about this by now, right? The phone actually has two cameras on its back side -- one for regular image-capturing and another for recording of depth perception data.

The idea is that the extra depth data can let the phone know what objects are near and far from you and then allow you to play with the focus after the fact in some interesting ways.

So how does it actually work? Let's find out.

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (1)

When you open a photo in HTC's Gallery app and tap the "Edit" command, you'll find an option called "Effects." It's limited only to images that were captured with the phone's own dual cameras; you won't be able to use it on anything you've downloaded or already edited because it requires that extra depth-of-field data to work.

The first option is the simplest. Called UFocus, it's a version of the photography effect known as bokeh, where you can pick a single point of focus and have everything behind it blurred out.

For this example, I wanted to use a completely ordinary photo so you could see how this stuff works in the real world -- no perfected portraits or polished-over demos here. This is the original image taken with the M8, before any modifications:

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (2)

And here's the image after applying UFocus, which automatically detected me in the foreground and blurred everything behind it:

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (3)

You can tap anywhere on the image to change the point of focus -- if we for some reason wanted to blur our extraordinarily handsome subject and focus on the area behind him, for instance -- but the results seem to be less consistently clean in that scenario:

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (3)

Some of the more interesting effects are under an option called "Foregrounder." The first, "Sketch," applies a sketch effect to everything in the background of your image but leaves the foreground in regular focus.

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (5)

The next, "Zoom Blur," makes everything behind your subject look like it's subtly zooming off into the distance.

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (6)

The "Cartoon" effect makes your entire background look like it was colored in by hand while leaving your subject in full normal focus -- and again, all of this happens in a couple of seconds without any real work on your behalf.

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (7)

The last "Foregrounder" effect is "Colorize," which gives the background an artificially muted coloring effect that really makes the foreground pop.

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (8)

The One (M8) has a few other options related to dual camera data, but most of them strike me as being more on the silly side. You can add floating rose petals, dandelions, leaves, or snow into an image, for instance -- if for some reason you ever have such an urge -- and then save it either as a still or as a video with the actual movement intact:

There's also a "Dimension" effect where you can tilt your phone to shift the perspective and make it look like the photo was taken from different angles. The moving 3D version -- which is the most impressive part -- can't actually be shared anywhere outside of the phone, unfortunately. But you can save a still from any altered perspective you create, which ends up looking something like this:

HTC One (M8) Dual Camera (9)

The new One has a few other dual-camera-related effects, but the ones mentioned above strike me as the most unusual and -- with the exception of the last two, perhaps -- the most potentially useful in terms of real-world photo editing.

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I'll be taking a much closer look at the One's overall camera performance in my in-depth review, which will be wrapped up and online soon. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: HTC One (M8) deep-dive review: Smartphone sophistication, refined

More One (M8) coverage:

Galaxy S5 vs. HTC One (M8): Camera shootout!

Hands on: 6 interesting things about HTC's Sense 6 software

Hands on: HTC One Dot View -- who knew a case could be so cool?

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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