Monday, July 03, 2006

How to pick the right camera phone?

Most of us will agree that the usage of mobile phones is growing by the day. If the mobile phone can also double up as a camera, it can be used to take pictures and preserve any special occurrence during the time when we are not carrying our cameras. Hence picking up a right camera phone requires some amount of knowledge and awareness. We have done some research around it and following are the key points which needs to be considered when buying a camera phone.

In simplest terms, there are 2 key factors for selecting a camera phone, picture quality and ease of transferring photos to a PC.

The picture quality of a camera phone will not match the quality of the dedicated camera, but the higher end camera phones can take pictures which are good enough to be printed.

If the camera phone is to be used for more than spur-of-the-moment shots, a minimum of 1.3-megapixel model would be required; these are common now in popular, mainstream phones like the LG VX8300 for Verizon. Two-megapixel camera phones like the Samsung MM-A800 for Sprint take photos that are good for printing and saving for posterity, but they're more expensive. The one 3MP camera phone in the U.S., the Nokia N80, doesn't take shots much better than the best 2MP phones, but it has a ton of other powerful features.

A few camera phones such as the Sony Ericsson W810i Walkman offer autofocus, but most are fixed focus, so the objects should be placed more than a few feet away for the best pictures. Sadly, camera-phone flashes are so weak that they reach only a few feet. In low-light situations, 3 to 6 feet is the sweet spot for camera-phone shots.

Camera phones can also capture video. For capturing video with a camera phone, there are few phones that support 352-by-288, 15 frame-per-second (fps) video, such as the Samsung SGH-T809 for T-Mobile. Now, 15 fps isn't as good as a dedicated digital camera and nowhere near the quality of a real camcorder, but it will do in a pinch. Many camera phones record video at 176-by-144 or even 128-by-96, which is hardly archival quality.

Having a camera on the phone is pretty useless if the pictures can’t get off it. For many low-end camera phones, the only option is picture-messaging shots to yourself, a friend, or to a picture-sharing or printing service. Unfortunately, that's often expensive, difficult, and clumsy.

Most camera phones enable connectivity with a PC using USB, Bluetooth, Infrared or Firewire technologies. Generally any mode of connectivity which does not requires complex software installation and configuration should be just fine. Most USB and Bluetooth phones can communicate with a PC or laptop without much pain. The better way is to opt for a camera supporting the SD Memory card which can store the photos while in the mobile and the same card can be removed from the mobile phone and inserted in a PC or laptop for photo transfer.

Pictures can also directly be printed from a camera phone to a growing range of printers, including the Epson PictureMate. Some phone supports PictBridge printing over a USB cable, like the LG LX550 Fusic for Sprint. Some phones can also send photos to printers over Bluetooth, but that's more difficult to set up than a USB connection.


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