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How to use the camera in the HTC 10 to take awesome photos

For HTC, its latest flagship smartphone is an emphatic return to respectability. The jury is still out on how well the HTC 10 will sell in the end, but one of the primary reasons for the phone’s improved standing is its excellent camera. After a lackluster camera in last year’s One M9, HTC stepped up its game and managed to put together one of the best all-around shooters of 2016 with the HTC 10. New components and improved software make the phone a superb shooter.

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HTC addressed some of its camera shortcomings with the One A9, a not-quite-flagship handset the company released in the fall, but it went further with the 10. While it would seem like a step back to go to a 12-megapixel image sensor, this one is actually a major improvement over the previous one. It’s an UltraPixel 2 sensor with 1.55 micron pixels, an f/1.8 aperture, and optical image stabilization (OIS). The immediate benefit is vastly improved low-light and night photos.

Rather than line the camera interface with gimmicky features and other distractions, HTC wisely focused on improving the photography basics, with particular emphasis on the Photo and Pro modes. It’s the latter of the two that truly shows what this camera is capable of. Here’s a look at some of the ways you can use the HTC 10’s camera to make the most of your photography skills.

The basics of Photo (auto) mode

On the HTC 10, the automatic mode is known as Photo, which is a little unusual, but it’s the default mode the camera works with out of the box. With auto on, you can basically point and shoot to capture great images, thanks to fast focusing and HDR (High Dynamic Range) mode, which is enabled by default.

The thing is, because this phone has an UltraPixel image sensor in the rear, it’s more sensitive to incoming light, and that can wreak havoc for shots that are very bright or facing a strong source of light, like the sun or a bright bulb. As with any automatic mode, Photo mode is supposed to compensate for that by adjusting settings like white balance, ISO, shutter speed, and exposure to produce more balanced images. When set to Auto, HDR will kick in when necessary to balance the highlights and shadows.

Related: 20 handy HTC 10 tips and tricks you’ll want to know

By default, Photo mode shoots in a 4:3 aspect ratio at the full 12-megapixels. If you prefer a wider image, you can tap the settings drawer on the left, tap 4:3 12MP until you see 16:9 9MP. Though images will be at a slightly smaller resolution, you will be able to get a little closer to your subject with a slightly wider angle.

When pointing the camera at a subject, tap the screen to focus where you want. A sun icon will appear with a vertical slider. This is exposure control for adjusting how much exposure to light the sensor will have. Slide it down for less light, which will make the image darker, or slide it up for more light to make it brighter. You will see the resulting change in real-time. The slider isn’t overly sensitive to touch, though, so it will require a few swipes to move it in either direction.

Once you’re satisfied with what you have, tap the shutter button on the screen to get the shot. Pressing the volume button will bring up a screen asking if you want the button to act as a hard shutter button or as a way to zoom in or out. Make your selection and it will stick to that unless you change it.

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