Candid Camera: Does Hero Need a Flash?

The vast majority of people wish that Sprint‘s Hero had a flash. While a flash would be a nice addition, I don’t think it’s really all that necessary. I mean, who really takes that many pictures in pitch dark? Let’s focus on the real area of concern… low light.

Low light, itself, doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem. The Hero seems to handle it fairly well, though the color won’t be anything to write home about. The problem from low light really rears its ugly head when autofocus isn’t used. This can make for a really blurry picture. Case in point…

Here’s a picture without autofocus.


Here’s the same picture with autofocus. See a difference?


Even the color improves when autofocus is used. Not too shabby.

What are your experiences with the Hero? Do you think the omission of a flash was a bad move, or does the camera do fine without it? If you’re using a different Android phone, how does its camera compare to the Hero’s in low light? Lemme know…

Pictures courtesy of Noam Katz. Thanks.

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  • gjs

    A flash would not have helped with your example pictures anyway !

    I'm using a T-Mob G1 & it fails to focus in (really really) low light anyway, probably the same with a Hero I'd, guess… G1 has a night shot mode, but it does not seems to make any difference. The problem becomes blur whilst trying to hold phone still during long exposure times in low light ( & no tripod ).

    • exactly – who would use a distant low light photo to showcase the necessity for a flash?

  • who ever wrote this article doesn't know much about taking photos. The problem is not low light – the problem is back light, which is some sort of flash is necessary. Knowing most tech involved, young, vibrant, social individuals i know – the best example for the need of a flash on your camera phone is a night out on the town. Yes with the lowlights of a dance floor or the street lights in an alley will show up pretty well, To take a photo of your drunk friend making a face in front of those distant lights is impossible and it then does look as if you are taking a photo in pitch blackness. I also have the G1 and a great camera application that will adjust for lighting conditions and i am fairly happy with its ability, but again – low light is not my problem photos – back lit photos are impossible without a flash. And because of that – i will hold out for a replacement until i see the phones with flash.

  • With a few exceptions, camera on phones suck. They are usable, but they suck 🙂

    1. Tiny CCD: In lower light it will give a lot of noise. And noise-reduction algorithms on phones are not that great (limited horse-power on the phone).
    2. With your arms stretched out, it is much harder to take a picture without any noticable shaking. Having a view-finder, pictures actually improve, because you're less shaky when you have the camera (phone) up to your eye/face.
    3. Flash would actually improve pictures, because you have faster shutter times and therefore are less prone to blurry pictures due to shake.


  • continued…
    4. Autofocus on these phones/cameras are done by contrast-detection. This is a sloooow way of obtaining auto-focus. It works, but it's slow, and even slower in low-light. Phase-detection auto-focus would be much better and faster, but is not found (yet) in any camera. The phone would need an extra sensor for this.
    5. Some camera-apps come with anti-shake detection. It is not very useful, because taking pics is quite slow. As soon as the app detects a stable situation and triggers the picture-taking-process, shake may be there again when the picture is actually taken.

    You can get quite a decent pic in the dark without flash, but flash would help you quite a bit to have a much bigger percentage of keepers.

  • shaneaus

    I couldn't disagree more with this article! A flash will be a requirement – up there with a hardware KB and more RAM for my next phone! Autofocus takes too long without a flash for close pictures. In a dark location like a bar or restaurant I canlt even see ANYTHING with my G1 to even know what is in the view of the lens much less take a pic of a dark morass! The blackberry I gave up to my wife had a flash and would put out that red light to let you know what you were taking a picture of before you took the shot. Without a flash my camera is ONLY a barcode scanner. For almost all the pics I want to take it is USELESS1 It doesnlt help that it takes the G1 forever to focus.

  • Benjamin Rubenstein

    I do agree that a flash should be a hardware requirement. A phone shouldn't be allowed to have a camera without a flash.

  • artist921

    Once having a phone with flash and now trying to go without it, has been a struggle. It should really start to become a standard for phones these days. I can't even take a picture at a club/restaurant/or even in the house without a bright light. On top of that, good luck holding your phone out to take a picture with a friend. To position your phone, and manage to push the on-screen button is a constant struggle (even using the trackball is bad)

  • It is bad enough that there is no 3.5mm headphone jack and terrible battery life but having come to the G1 from a Nokia N95, the single biggest dissapointment for me is its poor media capturing abilities. This is both down to the Android platform's earlier incarnations focusing elsewhere and what I can only assume to be cost cutting on the part of the manufacturer.

    • gjs

      Hopefully Sony X3 will improve this for Android.

      I came to G1 from N95 as well, which my wife continues to use, I still cringe when we compare same shot photos, reminding me how bad G1 photos are…

  • The lack of a flash for the camera renders the camera completely useless in many of the situations where it should be at its most useful, such as when on a night out with friends, and the lack of flexibility for the shutter speed means that once light gets below a certain level you just get a blank image. I hate to say it but even the iphone camera handles night shots better.

    All that said, after seeing the likes of the Motorola Droid and some of the Samsung handsets in the pipeline I am quite hopeful for the platform's future, I almost wish Nokia would give Android a go.

  • TareX

    exactly. Any sort of light behind the photographed person would make a dark silhouette out of him, unless there's a flash.

  • Miguel

    The G1 camera is horrendous. It is impossible to take a photo of anything moving, because it comes out blurry.

  • anonymous

    normal cameras have a LED light called auto-focus assist light, camera phones probably use that to light up the scene also while it auto-focuses. I think for casual snapshots, a LED flash would be nice, but for most good photos, natural lighting is better. I'd rather see a bigger sensor to collect better light photons. Or at least adjustable ISO or shutter speed.

  • Craig

    I love my hero, mostly for what android can do. But I was really disappointed that there was no flash. I've not had a phone without a flash in years, and just assumed it would be there…then to find it wasn't, well, as has been said in other comments, the camera is useless really unless you are in full daylight. Also, the delay between hitting the button and the actual picture being taken is a real pain in the ass..leads to motiion-blurred photos every time, unless you are made of stone..and that's with the auto-focus on!