The HTC One V packs a 5MP camera that does stills of up to 2592 x 1944 pixels and records 720p video @ 30fps. There's an LED flash / video light too.
The camera interface is the same for both the still camera and the video camera - no they don't "look alike", the camera just has the UI shared between both functions.
The right-hand side features the Effects button, shutter key, camcorder record key and a shortcut to the gallery that shows the last photo taken. On the left is the flash setting toggle, general settings and shot mode (we'll get back to that in a moment).
To snap a photo, you tap the shutter key. To record video you tap the button below - and you can still tap the shutter key to snap a full-res photo, even while recording video. Another cool option is the burst mode, which we mentioned in the gallery - you press and hold on the shutter key and it will snap multiple photos and let you pick which one to keep (you can keep all of them of course).
All this is pretty cool, but we had one problem with this combined interface - if you want full 5MP resolution still shots, you have to disable the Widescreen option. But then it becomes hard to frame a 16:9 video in the 4:3 view finder. That's made even worse when shooting 720p video. The field of view in that mode is narrower than what the viewfinder shows and framing involves a lot of guesswork.
The HTC One V has touch focus and face detection; geotagging and smile shutter are also enabled.
Continuous autofocus is available too which is good to have on a phone that lacks a hardware shutter key (the virtual shutter key cannot trigger autofocus either, it does burst mode). On the downside, the continuous autofocus may be way off in some shots - the only way to be certain you have the right focus is to tap and hold the shutter key.
The effects button brings out a panel to the left with the usual set of color effects (sepia, solarize and so on). There are other image effects too. For example, Depth of field is another such effect - it adds a radius slider around the control point and will blur everything in the photo that falls outside the circle.
The shot mode button offers some more cool stuff - HDR photos, Panorama (with a gyro horizon), portrait, group portrait, landscape, whiteboard, close-up and, finally, low light.
Group portrait is quite cool - we've seen something like it before in the Scalado Rewind. It snaps multiple photos and for each face (and the One V can track many faces), the phone automatically picks the one where that person is smiling and hasn't blinked.
Given its impressively bright f/2.0 lens and the big deal HTC made about the camera in the PR materials, it's hardly a surprise that the One V camera is among the strongest players in the 5 MP league. It resolves plenty of fine detail and while noise suppression is a tad too aggressive, most of it is still present in the final image. Colors are okay, too and we should give the camera a pat on the back for being extra fast.
The One V offers HDR mode, so we took a few shots with that too. Here's a comparison of a scene with HDR off and on. The results are not bad, but the HDR look is a bit exaggerated .
We snapped a couple of macro shots too using the Close-up focus setting.
The HTC One V joins the other 5MP shooters in our Photo Compare Tool. The tool's page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for. The One V does quite well here, matching or surpassing most of the other 5MP snappers we have tested.
The One V records 720p video at 30fps and it can snap photos while doing so. You can also use touch focus and even toggle the video light - all during recording!
Videos are stored in MP4 files and use H.264 encoding. 720p videos have a pretty low bitrate (about 5Mbps), and it's quite clear plenty of fine detail is sacrificed to achieve it. Colors are okay, though, and the framerate is smooth.
Here goes an untouched 720p@30fps sample clip.
And here's a video uploaded to YouTube for convenience.
We entered the HTC One V in our Video Compare Tool database too and put it head to head with other 720p mobile camcorders.
The One V isn't among the impressive camcroders out there, but it should do for the occasional clip.