When clicks converge

In the past few weeks the high-end cameraphones available in this region have hit the five megapixel mark. Does that make these handy snappers a true digicam alternative, or are they still merely a gimmick with grunt?

  • E-Mail
By  Matthew Wade Published  December 18, 2007

In the past few weeks the high-end cameraphones available in this region have hit the five megapixel mark. Does that make these handy snappers a true digicam alternative, or are they still merely a gimmick with grunt?

I've spent a fair proportion of the last two days geeking around Dubai taking numerous shots of flowers, buildings and friends, with the aim of assessing how the current crop of cameraphones compare to their standalone digicam counterparts. And it's been an interesting experiment...

Two years ago you see, it would have been a real waste of time. Back then in the pre-Facebook era, you were lucky to get a decent VGA resolution image - effectively 640 x 480 pixels - with a cameraphone. But times, as Mr. Dylan once muttered, they are a changin', and a changin' fast.

LG, Nokia and Sony Ericsson's highest end cameraphones have all now hit the five megapixel mark, which makes them capable, specification-wise, of churning out 2560 x 1920 pixel shots. On paper, that's easily a high enough resolution to meet all but the most professional users' photo needs. But does that mean they're a viable buy in place of a five-megapixel Canon, Nikon or Kodak camera say? The answer is, typically, yes and no.

That is, yes, if you're only interested in taking snaps of your mates at home or in a bar, and no if you want to actually get creative.

Set to ‘Superfine' and configured to their maximum resolution settings, these phones can snap shots that feature the same number of pixels than their digicam counterparts. What my tests this week have surmised however is that the clarity of the shots from a similarly specified phonecam won't always be as razor sharp as those you'd get from a standalone camera.

If you're just going to e-mail shots of a night out to your mates though, the truth is it doesn't much matter much. But if you're looking to Photoshop, print and then frame a particularly inspired A4 size snap, then the difference in clarity will be there and easy for all to see.

Aside from pixel counts, there are of course two other crucial features to consider depending on your likely usage of such a device, and it's these that really prove my creative point vis-à-vis phonecams versus the real thing.

One is the flash - namely does the cameraphone in question have one? As the five-megapixel models mentioned above are very high-end right now, my test this week actually focused on comparing 3.2-megapixel phonecams with a comparable digicam (as 3.2-megapixels will be the mobile phone norm within a few months, moving on from two-megapixels right now). Of the three phones I tried, two included flash functions and the third merely a torch light (the Sony Ericsson Miner anyone?). All of these functions paled in comparison however to the bright light hit of my digicam.

And secondly, of course, is the zoom - the one function that determines how happy your creative snapping can really be. The Samsung mobile I tried (the SGH-U700), unlike its competitors, did include a zoom, but unlike an optical zoom, this digital-only feature doesn't actually move the lens closer to your object, so the results are inferior.

They're getting there then these cameraphones, that's true, and in truth if every user were honest about their requirements instead of being wowed by serious specs and shiny new things, then half of this region's buyers would be ably served by these devices and wouldn't need separate cameras, but should you want to take crystal clear macro (closeup) or landscape shots, then there's still only one way to go. And that's towards the nearest digital camera shop.

3877 days ago
Irshad

Can you please write an article about the plethora of GPS phones on the market? Suggest that answers to similar questions as follows are highlighted: which is the best phone with GPS/standalone GPS device? What are maps all about? Do we have to pay a subscription for maps? Do phones come with voice navigation?

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code