If you have a smart phone you have a camera with you if not all, at least almost all, of the time. And as any good photography teacher will tell you:
“The best camera is the one that you have with you.”
Now I’m not suggesting that you go and do a high end fashion photo shoot with your iPhone or become the wedding photographer at your sisters wedding with your Android but smartphone cameras have come a long way in the last two years.
Over the next few months I’m going to be comparing the cameras in three phones: the Blackberry 9810 the Galaxy Nexus, and the iPhone 4 GS.
Let’s look at a few of their advertised features:
- 5 MP with flash
- 720p HD video
Yes, this is all the information that the Blackberry website cares to share. On the plus side they do have a detailed user menu but I could not believe how difficult it is to get even basic information about the camera.
(My husband contends that this is because Blackberry is basically a business phone and that the engineers at RIM are more interested in its durability than the images it takes.) However having said that I’m impressed with the photographs that the Blackberry cameras take.
- 5MP continuous auto focus
- 1.3MP Front
- LED Flash
- Zero shutter lag
- Single-motion panoramic camera
- 720 HD Video
- Video recording in 1080p
The Galaxy stands out as soon as you turn the phone on. An Android phone using 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, as far as viewing is concerned, the 1280 x 720 pixel *Super AMOLED display screen just knocks every other phone out of the water.
(Yes, I had to look it up too!) is a new technology for touch screen mobile devices. The main difference from other devices being that the layer that actually detects the touch is integrated into the screen. Instead of having three layers it only has two which makes it thinner (the touch sensor is just 0.001mm thick ) and eliminates some of the air gaps which makes the screen brighter.
Super AMOLED gives 3 main advantages:
- Brighter screens (See note above.)
- Less reflection from sunlight
- Less power consumption
- 8-megapixel iSight camera
- Tap to focus
- Face detection in still images
- LED flash
- Video recording, HD (1080p) up to 30 frames per second with audio
- Video stabilization
- Front camera with VGA-quality photos and video at up to 30 frames per second
- Photo and video geotagging
The iPhone has, in my opinion, been very smart and knows its market. The camera is aimed at photographers and particularly easy integration with iPhone Apps of which there are many.
The Pixel Wars
There is more confusion over pixels than just about anything else. More isn’t necessarily better. So what do *Megapixels mean in real terms?
The real value in pixels is image quality. If you intend to print your images and you are going to be printing large images the more pixels the better. However, unless you are intending to print large images, for the most part the argument is mute. A 3 MP camera will generally give you a good quality 8 x 10 print; an 8 X 10 8MP iPhone should give you an outstanding print.
What is a Megapixel?
Printed images are made up of millions of tiny dots, 1 million dots is 1 megapixel. Here’s where it gets interesting though megapixels are only half the picture, (if you’ll excuse the pun) you also have to look at dots per inch or DPI. It is the number of dots per inch that determine the clarity and sharpness on the page of your printed photograph.
But here’s the rub, according to the latest statistics over 80% of all images will only ever be digital. Social Media means we no longer need to print most of our images. Smart phones and digital cameras mean we upload and hit send or post our latest renderings to Flickr or Picassa.
So back to my original question are smart phone cameras good enough? Check back and we shall see.