Google Nexus 10 review: Perfect ten
The Google Nexus 10 packs an 5 megapixel camera, producing still shots with a resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels. There's a single LED flash underneath it, but don't count on it doing wonders in most low-light situations. The front-facing camera does 1.9MP stills and 720p videos.
The camera interface has been given a fresh coat of paint with an interface you'll either love or hate. With a simple tap and hold, a circle pops out giving you access to the various options. Once your finger is on a particular setting icon, it expands to reveal its options.
This is very similar to Quick controls in the browser (except that it works everywhere, not just the corners) and is quite handy on the big screen (instead of having to reach for a particular icon). Alternatively, you can invoke the settings circle by pressing the icon in the top right corner.
On the right hand-side is a big blue button used for capturing. Beneath it is the camera/camcorder switch icon. From there you can choose to shoot panoramas and photo spheres, which we'll go in depth in just a second. Above the capture button is a shortcut to the settings menu.
Touch focus is available, too and works reasonably fast - just make sure you don't hold your finger for too long as the settings circle will appear.
The features have been cut down - there's no HDR mode or ISO settings, for example, though you can still adjust white balance and exposure compensation.
With Android 4.0, Google introduced the Panorama capturing mode, and now with Android 4.2 Jelly Bean users will get a cool feature dubbed Photo Sphere. It's a panorama mode on steroids and allows you to capture photos in multiple directions (up, down, left, right). Think Street View and you'll get the idea.
The user interface is friendly and intuitive. It shows you dots which you have to aim the camera at, then rinse and repeat until you get a 360-degree Photo Sphere photo.
After they've been captured and saved as JPEG files you can view them and navigate around the whole image. You can share the image on Google+ or, if you feel like it, contribute the Photo Sphere to Google Maps.
The interface lacks a shortcut to the Gallery app - it was replaced by a swipe to the right opens the Camera app's Filmstrip view. It gives you the ability to quickly discard any photos you've taken by swiping them up or down or just quickly glance at recent shots.
The image quality is pretty good - not quite the best 5MP shooter we've seen, but there's enough fine detail and accurate enough colors to make photos usable. The quality is comparable to that of the iPad 4, though the Apple tablet has the edge. We maintain that you shouldn't use tablets for snapping photos, but it will do in a pinch.
Keep in mind that the field of view is narrower than most phones, so you'll have to stand further back than usual to fit the same things into the frame.
Here go a few samples for you to check out - keep in mind that they weren't taken in the best lighting conditions, as the weather around the office hasn't been particularly favorable lately, you can normally get slightly better output.
Photo quality comparison
Naturally, Google Nexus 10 also entered our tool, which makes it a lot easier to compare its output to the other top of the line tablets and smartphones. The tool's page will give you information on what to watch out for.
Passable 1080p video capture
The camcorder interface of the Nexus 10 is almost the same as the still camera's - you get the same panel on the right and quick settings when you hold your finger over the viewfinder.
Videos are shot at 1080p and have a consistent 30fps framerate. The output is saved in MP4 files, having a bitrate of 13Mbps, which is on the low side for high-quality 1080p capture. The recorded sound is mono (105Kbps bitrate, 44kHz sampling rate).
The image quality is okay but far from the best in class. The low bitrate leads to some compression artifacts, which eats into the already unimpressive amount of resolved detail. Colors are a bit dull, too, and while the videos will easily do for less demanding users, they will hardly win the Nexus 10 any awards.
Here's a 1080p video sample (0:07s, 10.9MB) taken straight from the Google Nexus 10.
Video quality comparison
The Google Nexus 10 also enters the video quality comparison arena.