The HTC Desire 500 packs an 8MP camera that does stills of up to 3264x2448 pixels in 4:3 mode and up to 3264x1840 pixels ones in 16:9 mode. It's only capable of recording 720p videos @ 30fps. There's an LED flash / video light, too.
The camera has a wide f/2.0 aperture and a dedicated image processing chip (HTC ImageChip). The lens has a field of view equivalent to 28mm, meaning it's wider than usual and lets you squeeze more stuff into the frame.
The camera interface, or HTC ImageSense, is the same for both the still camera and the video camera.
It's pretty simple, as well. There are two shutter keys (one for stills and one for video), above them is the gallery shortcut and below is the effects button. On the left side of the screen you get flash mode selector and the settings shortcut button.
The effects button brings out a tab on the left with the usual set of color effects (sepia, solarize and so on). There are also some other cool effects such as shallow depth of field, which lets you blur parts of a photo that fall outside a predefined circular area. It's like having Instagram built right into the stock camera app.
The HTC Desire 500 camera 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 like the Desire 500 with no 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 it right is to tap and hold on the spot of the screen where you want the focus to be.
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.
Overall, the Desire 500 camera produces pleasantly looking images. We liked the level of resolved detail. Compared to previous HTC devices (like the Desire 600), there isn't much oversharpening going on and that's a good thing.
Other than that, noise levels are fine, white balance was spot on and the colors were saturated. Also, the camera captures images relatively fast so performance was not an issue at any moment.
We've prepared a bunch of samples for you below, check them out.
We already mentioned the Desire 500 offers a built-in HDR mode. Here's a comparison of a scene with HDR off and on. The results are a lot better than the Desire 600 for example. HTC has done a far better job than before and has improved on its HDR imaging. It's still not the best ever HDR we've seen, but it's good enough. The shadows are decently exposed and the exposure itself isn't completely off.
The Desire 500 joins the big family of 8MP shooters in our Photo Compare Tool. We've let it go against the Samsung Galaxy S4 mini as well as the Nokia Lumia 720, but as usual, you can pick your own preferred competitors in our tool.
The HTC Desire 500 can shoot videos at up to 720p resolution at 24fps. Interestingly, an HDR option was missing when it comes to video recording.
There is also a slow-mo video recording mode, which however is shot at a lower resolution (768x432px).
The camera features continuous autofocus and you have the option to lock the focus during video recording, if it hunts too much in dynamic scenes.
Videos are recorded in MP4 files with a bitrate of 5Mbps, which is times lower than the highest we've seen with other phones. Sound is captured in stereo with 192Kbps bitrate and 48kHz sampling rate. Framerate was constant 24fps, but sometimes would jump to 28fps.
The videos seem okay in terms of fine detail, but they are not spectacular. What's worse, there is visible oversharpening here, unlike the still camera.
Here is a 720p video sample captured with the Desire 500 we uploaded to YouTube.
You can also download an untouched 720p sample (0:08s, 6MB) taken straight off the HTC Desire 500.
We've added the HTC Desire 500 to our video quality comparison tool. Here it has the tough job going against some of its competitors.