Although the HTC EVO 4G can take some pretty awesome outdoor photos with its 8-megapixel rear camera, using the camera to take those pictures is not-so-awesome. In fact, sometimes it can be downright frustrating.
I use the camera a lot (I'll be adding more diverse pictures to the G&E photostream soon) and I think it's fantastic in certain situations, but I don't use it to capture spontaneous moments of my 6-month-old daughter, who sees a lens about as often as she sees me and my husband. Like many cameras, the EVO's back cam does better when focusing on non-moving objects. It particularly excels at close-up photography of still objects, but it's no slouch at capturing scenery, smiling faces, and other items either.
Unfortunately, there are 7 things about the camera that sometimes make it unenjoyable for me to use.
1. No dedicated hardware shutter button. The use of a touchscreen shutter button on its own wouldn't normally be an issue for me, as a hardware button can sometimes increase camera-shake and the EVO has a front cam that makes taking self-portraits very easy. The reason I don't like it on the EVO is its placement and proximity to the row of touch buttons (Home, Menu, Back, Search).
2. Accidental operation of the touch buttons. Because of the location of the shutter button, the EVO's main touch buttons are very easy to accidentally press when holding the phone like a regular camera. Since there's no stabilization feature on the device, I hold the EVO with both hands to keep it as steady as possible and then use my right thumb to press the shutter. I've tried alternate hand positions, but this is most comfortable and produces the best results for me. When reaching for the shutter, then, my thumb often hits the Home button, which of course takes me out of the Camera app.
This doesn't happen all the time, of course, but it's happened more than a few times when trying to take a quick picture (not a carefully focused one). Depending on how you hold the EVO to snap a pic, this may not be an issue for you.
3. Zoom controls. I really wish the volume rocker could be used to control the digital zoom on the EVO. It's in the perfect place, within easy reach of your left index finger. But no. Instead you need to call up the on-screen zoom slider by tapping the +/- button on the right side of the screen, then slide your finger along the zoom control on the left. It's so cumbersome (and digital zoom kind of sucks, anyway) that it's not worth using. I'd rather just physically move closer to the subject.
4. Fixed orientation of on-screen controls. The EVO camera has a nice selection of settings that you can fine-tune to suit your needs, but they don't rotate with the device. They're stuck in landscape mode. So when you're taking a photo in portrait mode, all the controls are sideways.
5. Buried settings. There are a lot of useful options in the settings menu, but I think a few of them are too buried. Some of the settings are things you would probably just set once and forget about, but other things (e.g., switching between the two cameras, self-timer) should be easier to get to.
6. Auto focus. Auto focus is a feature that can be turned off in the settings, but having it on lets you take some really nice close-up shots (like this one I took of tree bark). The problem sometimes is that it just takes too long to focus; by the time it gets a lock, the subject (if it's movable by wind or its own volition) is often gone. And then there are the times when it just won't focus at all. You can actually hear the zoom working as the camera tries to focus, but eventually it just gives up and you either have to take a blurry picture or move on.
7. Gallery. After you take a photo, you can view it in the preloaded Gallery app. Assuming you haven't disabled Sense, this is HTC's version of the stock Gallery. It's nice, straightforward, easy to get to from the camera, and has batch-operation features, but browsing individual photos is slow. Photos move very slowly when swiping the screen to look at them. To put this into context, in the time it takes 1 photo in Gallery to completely settle onto the screen, 2 or 3 photos can be viewed on the iPhone with the same swiping motion.
And these are the 7 things I don't like about the HTC EVO camera. Are they deal breakers? Absolutely not. But they sure can be annoying!