Hey, I’ve got 2006 on the line, it wants its cameraphone back...
Very funny. But you think this kind of tech was available a decade ago? The Ektra (around US$550, due December) might share a name with a 35mm camera from 1941 but it couldn’t be more modern. Its 5in Full HD screen is a viewfinder for a 21MP camera, which, if the pictures we’ve seen are anything to go by, will give anything on those ‘Shot On iPhone’ posters a run for its money.
Yeah, in the hands of a pro snapper perhaps, but what if you’re more David Bellamy than David Bailey?
Don’t worry, there’s an intelligent auto mode for people like you. If you know your way around an ISO dial, though, the Ektra has a full-on manual mode that’ll let you tinker with shutter speed, white balance, exposure, focus and ISO, with live preview to show what effect changing each will have. It can also lock on and track an object around the frame and there’s Snapseed pre-loaded for instant on-phone editing.
But it’s still a phone. How good can it be?
We need a chance to give it a proper test but the signs are there. Just look at the size of the glass covering that lens. It’s like a black hole compared to the pin prick you get on most phones. That should help fill the 21MP Sony sensor with light, plus there’s an anti-reflective layer painted on the inside to combat glare. There’s 32GB onboard to fill with photos but it’ll also take Micro SD cards should you find yourself shooting faster than your Google Drive backup can keep up with.
It looks like it's having a bit of an identity crisis...
Yeah, the on-screen scene selection dial should be familiar from, well, pretty much every camera going. Run your finger around it and a little buzz of haptic feedback tells you every time the mode has changed. Tap it and it’ll enlarge so you can just hit whichever icon you want.
The one we liked most during our quick hands-on was Bokeh mode. It works a little like HDR modes on most phones, combining two photos with different focus points to throw out the background and give it a nice blur while maintaining sharpness down the front. A slider allows you to adjust how strong the effect is in post.
But did they remember to make the phone bit good too?
While we’re not expecting it to worry the OnePlus 3 or S7 Edge, the Ektra’s no slouch when it comes to the spec sheet. Everything you’d expect from a sub-US$600 phone is present and correct, including a deca-core MediaTek Helio X20 processor, 3GB RAM, Android 6.0 and even a headphone socket, because Apple has made that a feature worth noting now. If nothing else, what other phone can you get with a leather case that turns it into a proper street-shooting snapper?