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Megapixels & Camera Phones

CmdrTaco posted more than 8 years ago | from the something-to-think-about dept.

323

CEmongler writes "Consumer Electronics publication CoolTechZone.com tackles the integrated camera attachments in today's cell phones. According to the author, "The camera integration has in fact reached such a stage that any self-respecting phone would incorporate at least a megapixel camera. The cutting-edge feature to have though is the 2-megapixel variety. The question is: is it really worth the extra money you pay for it? Without getting into model-by-model comparisons, I am questioning the entire range of 2-megapixel camera phones. Are they really worth it? For the most part, no."

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323 comments

Interface, interface, interface..... (5, Insightful)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112899)

Look, the number of pixels is simply not as important as the optical properties of the system. I've seen better pictures come out of a four megapixel (MP) camera with better lenses than those that come out of a seven MP camera with poorer quality optics. So, if your lenses allow clean transmission of light without chromatic aberration and little to no change to the fidelity of the image, then you will have better images than just simply bumping up the MP count through commodity CCDs.

This of course is what the phone manufacturers are doing, buying commodity CCDs because that is what is being made. It is cheaper for them to spend an extra dollar or two on a higher MP count CCD rather than putting the development dollars on improving the user experience, interface or infrastructure.

This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling". "Ooooh shiny things!" Come-on people! Put some effort into purchasing quality products that demand a bit more work and are functional for longer periods of time instead of purchasing things that you throw away after only a short time. It shows you are more discriminating, pushes companies to produce better products, is easier on the environment and gives you better quality goods that help to improve your life rather than clutter it up with junk.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (4, Insightful)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112916)

This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling".

Just like processor MHz when buying computer systems. It's a rough guide to speed, but there are other (often more important) factors. But it's so much easier to rate & quantize things when you can just pick a number and say bigger is better.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

KlaymenDK (713149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113140)

Yeah, you are so right. To use the classic car analogy, most non-geek users (and even some geek users!) tend to see CPU speed as an indication of "top speed"; in reality it is more like "break horse power" -- to be sure, it IS important, but there are just many other factors to take into account before you can arrive at any quantization of "speed".

It's the same with digital cameras ... quality != pixel count all by itself, but quality == (pixel count + optics + storage speed + weight + size + firmare features, including interface).

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113181)

Absolutely. This isn't just a "bling" desire, it is people's natural need to be able to compare things and numbers make it easy. It is why people are driven to put dollar values on everything whether it makes sense or not. See which your boss likes more, a "3 is bigger than 2" or "well, it depends" answer. It is a lot harder to compare picture quality without analyzing side-by-side images and asking questions about the conditions they were taken under, etc. AMD faced the same issue with their CPUs when everything was measured by clock speed even if the cycles were being used very inefficiently.

Intel CPUs wide open to microcode attack (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15112980)



http://www.fcw.com/article94010-04-10-06-Print [fcw.com]

The built-in procedure that Intel Pentium-powered computers use to blow off their digital steam could put users in hot water by making the machines vulnerable to cyberattacks...

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113016)

I've seen better pictures come out of a four megapixel (MP) camera with better lenses than those that come out of a seven MP camera with poorer quality optics.

I had an older Kodak 5MP camera that was replaced (by gift) in September with a 7.2 MP camera. While the Kodak was older, clunkier, and didn't have as many megapixels, it still took better photos than the new camera which had a great review [dpreview.com] on the Digital Photography Review. I've seriously thought about going back to the older camera :(

As far as phone cameras go, mine has quality that sucks, but I still take a ton of photos with it for my site (I think I'm at 3900 since 10/2004). It's not the quality that matters to me (I'm not looking for device consolidation really) it's just the fact that I can take a photo and immediately upload it to my gallery [lazylightning.org] . It was especially useful while sitting on the beach in Maui and uploading photos of our honeymoon for those back home to check out [lazylightning.org] .

Convenience (1)

phasm42 (588479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113037)

Just as digital cameras made it cheaper to just casually take pictures of things because you didn't have to pay for development, having a camera phone makes it more convenient. I don't think anyone is really going to be using the things for real photography (although the article author seems to think so). The author argues against 2MP phones, but the argument seems divided between saying that all camera phones are without merit, or that 2MP offers little to no advantage over 1MP. The latter is simply technology advancing, but I would disagree with the former.

Camera phones seem like more of a social thing. When I bought my last phone, I had the option of getting a camera phone. I opted not to get one because it doesn't really appeal to me, but I can see advantages to them and why some people like them.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

SirCyn (694031) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113046)

I have a 5.1MP Camera. More than half of the pictures I take are at 640x480 shots to post on the web. What I really want in a camera phone is some level of zoom and the image quality posted by parent.

I haven't seen any camera phones with any real level of zoom. I understand most zoom lenses take alot of space, but couldn't they come up with something, anything!

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

YanIsa (460789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113193)

Nokia N90 [nokiausa.com] with Carl Zeiss optics and autofocus. A bit big, but takes very good pictures (for a phone).

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (2, Insightful)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113218)

> More than half of the pictures I take are at 640x480 shots to post on the web.

I noticed with digital cameras I have used. A photo taken by a 0.5 MP camera at 640x480 produces a lower quality, and smaller file size than the photos taken at 640x480 on a 5 MP camera. The smaller size comes from the jpeg compression on a photo with more info in it. My theory is, a 5MP (with proper software, and a CPU to do the work) has much more information to truly get a average of what every individual pixel color truly should be. Where as the less dense CCD, has a greater chance of missing what the average color should be, by what photons it misses.

>camera phone is some level of zoom and the image quality posted by parent.
this is where the high MP can help, if your willing to spend the time at the PC. take the picture, don't worry about framing, direction... crop and zoom at the PC before posting. Of course it's quicker to spend 3 seconds with the camera zoom at that time, than 2 minutes at the PC (assuming it's not a action shot, nude beach,upskirt,strip club, or spy type photo where 5 seconds framing the shot gets you busted.)

as the other posters have said, nothing makes up for some image stablization and a quality lighting/flash. Camera weight/balance does help in my experience, and 2 hand holds, square sides to lean against a pole/rock do also. All contrary to the goal of a good phone, which I would want rounded (no snags in pocket) single hand, and light weight.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

ChristTrekker (91442) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113066)

For the type of stuff I'd use a cameraphone's camera for, a 50 kilopixel image would be sufficient. If I want a decent picture, I'll use a real camera with a hint of optical quality.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (3, Interesting)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113071)

Yes, it's partly the optics. Mainly it is the size of the imaging sensor, though - or to be more precise, the size of the individual sensor sites. Smaller sensor and higher resolution both mean smaller sites, and smaller sites mean more noise.

In the end, you will not be able to ever get the same quality out from a tiny unit like on a camera phone as you get from an APS-sized fixed-lens or SLR-type one.

That said, I have both a DSLR and a 1.2Mp cameraphone and they both have their uses. The DSLR is more important of course, but I would not want to be without the cameraphone either. Even though I drag the big camera around most of the time, I still now and then find myself in situations where I didn't have it, or taking it out would have taken too long and drawn too much attention, or I just wanted to send a picture of something to my SO, and going via DSLR, computer and email was at least two steps too many and half a day too slow.

Re:Interface, interface, interface..... (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113133)

Even though I drag the big camera around most of the time,

LOL, yes indeed. Me too.

I still now and then find myself in situations where I didn't have it, or taking it out would have taken too long and drawn too much attention, or I just wanted to send a picture of something to my SO, and going via DSLR, computer and email was at least two steps too many and half a day too slow.

I carry around a small digital camera (Elph, but I'm looking at one of those super thin Sonys) with me for those times too as the quality out of the cell phones just does not yet cut it.

It's not about quality, duh! (4, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113095)

It's about EASY. I have a camera phone. It was free with my contract. It has a 2MP camera. I take it with me everywhere because it's my phone, so if I see something I want to snap, I can. Camera phones are not for people that want artistic or even "good" pictures. What they take is memories and reminders, things otherwise forgotten, not art. So get off your damn high horse. Of course it would be great if they managed to fit a DSLR quality camera system inside a phone. FOr now they can't and the products are STILL great, and within the budget of most people here in the UK.

My ideal GSM phone. (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113150)

This of course is because people respond to higher MP counts in the same way they like "bling". "Ooooh shiny things!" Come-on people! Put some effort into purchasing quality products that demand a bit more work and are functional for longer periods of time instead of purchasing things that you throw away after only a short time. It shows you are more discriminating, pushes companies to produce better products, is easier on the environment and gives you better quality goods that help to improve your life rather than clutter it up with junk.

From my point of view a good modern GSM phone has the following features:

  1. It offers a simple and functional telephone interface with no frills other than a missed calls list, a call history list and an way to initiate calls directly from onboard address book.
  2. If I wasn't a corporate employee point 1) would be my only demand. Unfortunately, since I am required to be reachable at all hours of the day where ever I am, I also require my GSM phone to have at least a GPRS connection for the two internet related things I plan to do with it which is E-mail and possibly MSN chatting, faster connections are nice but not essential. Power browsing on my GSM phone is not something I am likely to do a lot of
  3. Since I do a lot of connecting to E-mail servers over SSL or VPN it should have broad support for both as well as support for as many push and poll e-mail protocols as possible. As long as I get a secure connection I am not picky about protocols.
  4. It should have broad sync support over multiple operating systems (which is usually not a problem using third party sync apps).
  5. It should be able to sync it's calendar, to-do list and address book against as many group-ware products as possible.
  6. It should be available with and without a camera since I regularly get trouble form Security people if my phone has a built in camera.
  7. A touch-screen and stylus would help but I'll settle for something similar in concept to the Blackberry 71xx series

Article has a point, but... (3, Interesting)

Disavian (611780) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112904)

Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go? I know I don't.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

Dionysus (12737) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112918)

[blockquote]Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go? I know I don't.[/blockquote]

Slashbots that think the proper attire is one specialized device for each function needed (one mp3 player, one phone, one pda, one digicam...)? Just wait and read here... Should be the +5 posts.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112944)

Slashbots that think the proper attire is one specialized device for each function needed (one mp3 player, one phone, one pda, one digicam...)?

Well I think the point is that the cameras built into phones - even with much-touted improvements - are still pretty crappy cameras in the grand scheme & so you *still* need to have a seperate digicam along with the phone. Why have one in the phone? If the phone's camera were good enough to be a primary camera then I agree with you - why have two devices when you could just carry one.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

Crizp (216129) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113204)

Remember when 1.3 MP digicams were the norm? People (OK, early adopters at least) used those as their primary camera - the resolution was good enough to use for standard-size prints. I had one (Olympus C-860) for years, until I got a new phone with 2MP autofocus camera. Apart from the bump up in res., the image quality (especially in macro mode) is better also.

It's used as my primary camera. For people of limited finances, not able to afford a EOS 350 or something, they work just fine.

Example: A rose - macro [deviantart.com] . Now tell me that's not enough image quality for casual, regular-size print use.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112939)

Amateur photographers. People who like to take pictures.

Re:Article has a point, but... (-1, Offtopic)

WormholeFiend (674934) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113040)

Amateur photographers. People who like to take pictures.

Not to mention "Lo-Fi" artists... and I use the term "artist" very loosely.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

Doubting Maxwell (962422) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112942)

I do. Everywhere. It kinda freaks people out when they realize that I'm carrying one in my pocket. Of course, everyone should...you never know when somebody is going to try to screw you over.

Re:Article has a point, but... (1)

Yahweh Doesn't Exist (906833) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112988)

I don't take mine everywhere but if I have my laptop bag with me (12" iBook) then I probably have my 8MP camera too.

and if I don't have my laptop but I think I might want to take some photos then it's small enough to go in my jacket pocket too.

Re:Article has a point, but... (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113062)

Who really takes their digicam with them everywhere they go?

I do.. I go farther. I carry a Fuji S3 and a couple of lenses EVERYWHERE.

Why? because you never know when something will happen and you can bethe only guy with a photo of it. I sold 4 photos to a local news outlet of the Immigration Demonstrations from 2 days ago I made enough to pay for more camera gear.

My hobby pays for it's self because I have the camera with me at all times. Some people with pocket point ans shoots were the ONLY people to get a photo of the Plane crashing into the WTC and other historic events that can only be captured by having a camera on hand.

Take photos all the time and you will end up with some that are easily saleable to news outlets.

Not worth it?! (1)

Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112910)

What about for us perverts?

Re:Not worth it?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15112956)

It is worth it. I own a 2 mp phone (Sony Ericsson k750i) and the camera is the reason I bought it. It is good enough and has served me so many times that I can't even count.

Whenever I leave home either for work or on a trip with my family I do not need to carry something extra with me, and prints 4x6 are perfectly OK. Even using the camera as a scanner is great. You can't do that with lower resolutions than 2 mp

Just my 2 cents,
AC

Re:Not worth it?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113129)

Taken any good upskirts recently?

Re:Not worth it?! (1)

trailerparkcassanova (469342) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113231)

You need a mega-pixel shoe cam for that.

Do you have a choice? (0, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112919)

When faced with the choice between a phone with a camera and one without, which do you choose? When they are the same price, which do you choose? When they just don't make phones without cameras anymore, which do you choose.

Shut the fuck up, consumer.

Re:Do you have a choice? (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113141)

At the same price? The one without. I don't need or want it.

Why My Phone has a Camera (3, Interesting)

Dysfnctnl85 (690109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112921)

I did not own a digital camera up until this xmas, and it was a gift. I purchased my w800i because it's sort of a MacGyver-esk tool used for pictures, music, and communication.

Since I prefer film vs digital, I thought it would be nice to consolidate tools into one device that I have on me all the time. It has proved to be a good investment, despite the $400 investment. The premium price I paid has a lot to do with markets and such, but those aside, the phone fits its niche in my life and it's always convenient to have a camera on you at all times.

Most phones available in the US have really crappy cameras, but the w800i is an exception.

Re:Why My Phone has a Camera (1)

consonant (896763) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112969)

The Sony Ericsson series of cellphone-cameras have always been of excellent quality.

A Sony Ericsson's VGA camera-cellphone gives FAR better image quality than the first-generation Nokia megapixel camera-cellphones.

The sound quality is also awesome, but that's just offtopic.

Okay, I'll stop being a Sony shill now ;-p

Re:Why My Phone has a Camera (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112998)

unles its made with a pack of chewing gum, string, can of raid, and a wire, you cant call it MacGyver-esk :p.

Re:Why My Phone has a Camera (1)

dfghjk (711126) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113059)

"Since I prefer film vs digital..."

That comment alone disqualifies your opinion.

Re:Why My Phone has a Camera (2, Informative)

Dysfnctnl85 (690109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113093)

The convenience of digital exceeds the convenience of film and therefore a compromise must be made seeing as how I cannot carry my SLR everywhere I go.

This is where the cameraphone finds its niche.

If I was saying that digital *quality* was crap, I can see where my comments would be unfounded, but seeing that I'm not, it doesn't make sense to discount my comments...

No, they're not worth it! (3, Informative)

vidarlo (134906) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112925)

And why? Because the optics still sucks. I guess there ain't enough space for a good camera inside a phone, because the optics ain't small enough. While the ccd or cmos sensor is small enough, it needs good optics to give good quality.

Say you've got the good optics, and a decent sensor... A ccd uses more power than a cmos, and needs more light. A cmos however, gives lots of artifacts (noise) in the picture, but performs better in low-ligt conditions, and needs less power.

  • CMOS sensor - low power, low light level needed, but artifacts (noise) in the picture
  • CCD sensor - powerhungry, needs good lgiht, good quality

Ok, so we go for a ccd. Then we need a good flash, which takes even more power. Power which has to come from a capacitor since a battery can't deliver high enough voltage and enough current fast enough. A capacitor and flash takes up space.

In short, if we want small phones, we won't get decent image quality. If we can accept a phone twice as big as the ones we have, we can just bundle together a normal compact camera and a phone...

Re:No, they're not worth it! (2, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113165)

The one megapixel camera in my Motorola V635 takes pictures that are "good enough" - that is, it replaced my 3 megapixel Kodak, and while the image quality wasn't quite as good, it was barely noticable in the majority of cases. I went around New York for my honeymoon, taking pictures all over the place. My wife, who had a 3 megapixel Kodak of her own, also went around taking pictures with that. Frequently my pictures turned out better. Rarely were my pictures worse than what you'd get with a disposable. I screwed up more photos myself by including my finger at the bottom of many shots than the camera screwed up by creating a blurry, dark, or otherwise ugly image.

By all of this, I don't mean to diss Kodak. I took some pretty amazing pictures with the Kodak when I had it. It's consumer grade, but it's nice. The fact is though that the whole "Oh, camera phones are so inferior, they're just cheap webcams really, gosh-diddly, you just can't get decent optics in such a small space" rant is, today, absurdly over-stated. Yes, you can still get cameraphones with bad cameras. Yes, even the better cameraphones cannot compete with high-end professional equipment.

But the better cameraphones can compete with regular consumer digital cameras. The better ones do do an excellent job. The quality is superb. My V635 isn't even top of line, it's mid-range, and it does an excellent job. I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to ever buy a standalone digital camera again, save for the highly improbable situation that I end up being a professional photographer.

My advice to anyone considering getting a camera phone who wants a good camera that'll eliminate the need to carry a seperate consumer-grade camera around is ignore the wankers who insist such things are not possible. Go to the mobile phone forums and check the picture samples. If they look good to you, then chances are it's a good camera. And that's one less box you need to carry around with you when you're somewhere that needs a camera, and a useful gadget to have anyway.

Re:No, they're not worth it! (3, Informative)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113230)

Just one thing to point out, every single high end Canon digital SLR camera uses CMOS sensors. (at least the lower end up to prosumer slr's do, can't afford to buy a pro canon digital so I haven't bothered investigating them, but I'm fairly sure they are cmos also)

CMOS CAN be result in quality that surpasses CCD, all while using far lower power and generating much less heat.

Re:No, they're not worth it! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113247)

It is not just the optics. Granted, the optics most likely suck bigtime on these small devices, but there is another thing: pixel size.
Silicon area costs money. So one way to crank up the amount of MP is to reduce the size of the pixels. Smaller pixels means less light flux, means crappy signal to noise ratio means crappy picture.
The last pixel I worked on was a 1.7um pitch. Note that this is only about 2.5 times the wavelength of red light (~700nm)...
Other things that get much worse when going to smaller pitched pixels is color shift. Ever noticed how colors tend to change to the corners of your image. That is not the lens working, that's the pixel's optical stack (on these dimension, light is not a ray anymore, it gets diffracted and sprays all over the place).

On the CCD/CMOS issue:
  - CCDs are far better than CMOS in low light conditions (think astonomy)
  - CMOS is better from cost perspective as you can integrate amplifiers and logic on the chip.
  - Current CMOS is getting closer to the performance of CCDs, but we're not there yet...

Problematic (4, Interesting)

Erwos (553607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112931)

The whole "cameras in cell phones" craze is starting to cause some problems for me. Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite. This has the effect of severely limiting my cell phone choices, so that I'm stuck with "crackberry" or "super cheap", neither of which is terribly appealing. What happened to a nice, mid-range phone with no camera? It's not even that I don't like a camera integrated into it - it's just not an option for me. This insanity is even starting to creep into PDA phones - witness the Treo 650's digital camera, for instance.

It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of switching from Sprint to Nextel, just because Nextel's phones actually seem more reasonable for my (and my wife's) usage. Interestingly, the Sprint rep I spoke with said I could do this, and they even had a group for going from Sprint -> Nextel!

-Erwos

Re:Problematic (1)

Dysfnctnl85 (690109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113000)

Sprint and Nextel are the same company, so this is not surprising!

I can see how having a camera phone can be problematic for government workers/contractors, but obviously phone manufacturers are not considering this group of individuals. And why you ask? Because the phones we got in American are not driven by manufacturers, but by carriers. This is the complete opposite of how the system works in Europe and why it's so much better. Carriers are screwing us over.

Re:Problematic (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113159)

I can see how having a camera phone can be problematic for government workers/contractors, but obviously phone manufacturers are not considering this group of individuals. And why you ask? Because the phones we got in American are not driven by manufacturers, but by carriers.

Phone manufacturers aren't considering this group of individuals because there aren't enough of them to comprise a significant market segment. Financially speaking, they don't matter.

Sure, the carriers would like anything put on the phones that might encourage a user to use more minutes/bandwidth, but they too are driven by market demand. If there was a significant demand for phones-sans-cameras, you can bet there would be some on the market.

how the system works in Europe and why it's so much better

Don't even *make* me get out my flag and start waving it at you. :-P

Re:Problematic (1)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113010)

It's not even that I don't like a camera integrated into it - it's just not an option for me. This insanity is even starting to creep into PDA phones - witness the Treo 650's digital camera, for instance.

It's gotten to the point where I'm thinking of switching from Sprint to Nextel, just because Nextel's phones actually seem more reasonable for my (and my wife's) usage. Interestingly, the Sprint rep I spoke with said I could do this, and they even had a group for going from Sprint -> Nextel!

First off, the Treo is also available in a non-camera flavor.

Second, the talk of switching from Sprint to Nextel is going to be a lost one soon enough. Sprint has talked about how they are going to switch all voice traffic to their CDMA network and use the iDEN for PTT only. Thus, the lines will converge in due time, and one can guess the phones will also.

Re:Problematic (2, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113109)

First off, the Treo is also available in a non-camera flavor.

As a sprint consumer, I would like to inform you that Spring Mobile Phone Corporation doesn't offer a Treo without a camera. Furthermore, Sprint will not activate your phone unless it has a Sprint stamp on it.

Second, the talk of switching from Sprint to Nextel is going to be a lost one soon enough. Sprint has talked about how they are going to switch all voice traffic to their CDMA network and use the iDEN for PTT only. Thus, the lines will converge in due time, and one can guess the phones will also.

Sprint bungled this merger - have they got the billing systems integrated yet, how about using the synergy of the towers - I work near a base and Nextel has a tower right next door and guess what I am on roam using Nextel's Tower! Sprint should have been talking with merging with Verizon instead of some 3rd technology. Sprint may have killed the current CDMA path since AT&T powerhouse has so much market presence with their massive GSM network. I prefer CDMA quality and price but I shake my head in shame being a Sprint Customer since the debacle.

Re:Problematic (4, Informative)

StevenHenderson (806391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113184)

As a sprint consumer, I would like to inform you that Spring Mobile Phone Corporation doesn't offer a Treo without a camera.

Try again. [sprint.com]

Re:Problematic (1)

stecoop (759508) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113238)

Not offered nationally. More important so, not offered in *my* area.

Re:Problematic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113198)

If your CDMA phone is roaming on a Nextel iDEN tower, I'd love to buy that handset from you. Have any pics?

Re:Problematic (1)

BWJones (18351) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113084)

Many DoD installations do not let you take camera phones onsite.

Jeez, it's not just camera phones. Some installations practically make you strip down and leave *all* "devices" at the security gate. Laptops, PDAs, USBkeys, cell phones, even wrist watches are required to be removed. It's amazing how much electronic stuff we routinely haul around with us and it's not until you have to start paying attention to it that it strikes you how dependent we have become on it. You think "How in the hell am I going to do anything for the next few hours without all this stuff?" Taking notes, keeping in touch, etc...etc...etc...

But yeah, I hear you. I would be nice to have companies focus on delivering specifically targeted tools like a cell phone that was optimized around the user experience of talking.

Re:Problematic (1)

JPRelph (519032) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113090)

I have a similar problem at some customers where they have sensitive material kicking around and I'm quite interested in the new Sony Ericsson business phone, the M600 [mobileburn.com] . Looks like a model in between the K750 (which I currently have and like) and the full blown P910 which I just find a bit too bulky. Just waiting for them to be released!

Re:Problematic (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113249)

WE solved that here.
you can purchase special tamper detection stickers that can be placed over the cellphone's camera optics. if it is removed it will visibly damage the sticker. ( I tried several ways of trying to get it off, short of treating your camera lens with silicone first you cant keep it from making the tell-tale marks on the sticker)

when you check in you get the sticker applied, when you leave your phone is inspected and the sticker removed. If you tampered with the sticker you are pretty much hosed.

Works well, most people simply leave their phone at the securit desk, those that "MUST" have their phone, have to go through this and read the riot act twice as to what will happen if the sticker is found damaged.

99% of people really do not need their cellphone in a secure area.

More important to note... (2, Insightful)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112936)

Is that camera phones are banned from most work places, fitness clubs and I have just notice at some local movie theaters.. even there (cell phone use for movie piracy I guess?).

You have any idea how hard it is getting to find a good phone with all the features you want.. and NOT have a camera attached to it? You almost have to go to Nextel as they seem to be about the only cell company that doesn't have every phone be camera enabled.

I ended up having to get a camera phone just so I could have some of the features I wanted (mainly bluetooth) and found a case that fits the phone that covers over the camera eye. Good enough to get past the rent-a-cop security.

Re:More important to note... (1)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112965)

I have just notice at some local movie theaters.. even there (cell phone use for movie piracy I guess?).
All cell phones should be banned from cinemas, or at least a bill should be passed legalising the forcible insertion of ringing phones into the owner.

Re:More important to note... (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113015)

the forcible insertion of ringing phones into the owner.

Some people might actually pay extra for this service. This could be an entirely new revenue stream for the failing movie theatre industry...

They mean it at the fitness club, too (2, Interesting)

ianscot (591483) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113041)

My parents called while I was in the locker room last week, and somehow the act of flipping the phone open looked suspicious to the gentleman shaving quite naked at the mirror nearby.

One of the black-clad trainers arrived to investigate my suspicious phone answering shortly thereafter. Had to scroll him through my few snaps to show him nothing was amiss. Still, he kept my phone safely behind the counter until I was ready to go. Reclaiming the phone later was plenty embarrassing.

(Personally I would prefer a ban on hanging out naked to shave out of some exhibitionistic impulse, but that's harder to define than "cell phone camera.")

Re:More important to note... (4, Insightful)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113054)

banned from most workplaces? I doubt even 1% of employers have rules against camera phones.

Re:More important to note... (2, Informative)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113102)

Youd be surprised. Especially with employers that have to be HIPAA compliant. My emloyers policy: No cameras, camera phones, flash drives, flash music players, PDAs etc.

Re:More important to note... (4, Interesting)

clifyt (11768) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113207)

"Especially with employers that have to be HIPAA compliant."

Wierd --

I am the HIPAA compliance officer with my office, and I have not seen any rules to this extent.

At the same time, we train our employees and don't expect them to be idiots...but thats just my office. The rest of my organization might have other rules and employees they hire that for some reason they allow access to this data but don't really trust (i.e., there is no way for any of my people to download bulk data -- nor should there ever be for someone that can't be trusted -- and our software is designed so that certain activities like looking up the records of family members or even your own personal records is frowned upon...I actually got a call from the 'boys upstairs' because I was looking up a record of my own -- and that was just to correct erronious data from some tests I had accidently automated with my ID# back when the system was still in the test phase and none of the data was supposed to go forward).

But yeah, we take HIPAA seriously here -- but we do it in a way that makes sense and not just restricts anyone that might actually have to use technology.

Re:More important to note... (4, Insightful)

gowen (141411) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113239)

Wow. Another slashdotter seemingly incapable of distinguishing between "Where I work" and "Most workplaces."

Clue : The plural of "anecdote" is not "data"

Re:More important to note... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113135)

Lets see...

* General Motors - No cell phones with cameras.. can cause termination
* Ford - same as GM
* Chryster - Same
* Most automotive suppliers
* Most ISP's ban camera phones
* Almost aLL NOC's ban cell phone, IMMEDIATE firing
* Any company that does work for the government that needs a "secret" or higher security rating
* Most universities that do sesitive research

That is just what I have heard and read about myself. I am sure I am just skimming the surface. But that is a heck of a lot more than 1%. This list is probably close to 10% as incomplete as it is.

Anon because I work at one of the big 3 and have friends in ISPs and NOCs.

Re:More important to note... (1)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113240)

My company has a ban like that. Of course, we design chips, and all our data could just be emailed away easily. Oh and on top of that, many of us have company laptops and can connect to the company network from home. Basically if you are an employee of the company, any data you have access to can be transported out of the company, cell phones or no. Sheesh.

Whatever (4, Insightful)

quokkapox (847798) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112945)

any self-respecting phone would incorporate at least a megapixel camera

Dammit, I've already got a phone (an old Nokia candybar model that has a wonderful interface and battery life and no stupid camera). Any self-respecting phone should be just a phone. If I want to take along my camera, I'll do so.

I'm hoping my current phone doesn't break so I don't have to involuntarily "upgrade" to the next model which has countless features I don't want and an interface whose designers I want to reciprocally torture by redesigning their TV so that changing channels requires multiple button presses in even the most common case. Gah *head explodes*.

Yet again ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113139)

Any self-respecting phone should be just a phone. If I want to take along my camera, I'll do so.

Once again the chorus of "I just want a phone with buttons and a 10digit display". Look, you obviously don't get it, the convenience of a camera phone is that you DON'T HAVE to bring a camera along with you. If you're lifestyle is such that random photo ops don't appear frequently, then fine, buy yourself a phone without a camera (or just ignore the camera feature of your phone). For me, this occurs often, often enough that I get a lot of use out of the camera in my cell.

Over generalisation about time-to-picture (2, Insightful)

berta (462366) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112951)

k750 from opening lid to photo can be done in 6 or 7 seconds, not 15 or 30 as this piece of well informed journalism states.

Re:Over generalisation about time-to-picture (1)

fratermus (608212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113113)

Although the quality of the cam in my old Treo600 is not good by modern standards, I assigned the function to a hotbutton and go from phone "off" to pic snapped in about a second. I find that 90% of my pics are with the treo crapcam, just because it's with me at all times. The qset (?) palm app helps the quality of the images quite a bit by limiting the .jpg compression.

Re:Over generalisation about time-to-picture (1)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113114)

I agree, I have a SE W6001 and it takes one click of a button (two if I use the keylock)

Metrics please (2, Insightful)

wombatmobile (623057) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112958)

Camera phones are fast replacing a number of regular phones

Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?

What does TFA mean by "fast"?

Re:Metrics please (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113043)

"Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?"

A couple of years ago, nobody I knew had one. Today, nearly everybody I know has one. I've spotted a number of people with these phones just walking around town. Okay, it's anecdotal and not a scientific study. Seriously, though, what's so difficult to believe about it? Despite popular belief around here, camera phones really are useful.

Some current numbers from Nokia (1)

MBAFK (769131) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113118)

Latest 20 from the UK Nokia range: http://www.nokia.co.uk/nokia/0,8764,18062,00.html [nokia.co.uk]

6 of those do not have a camera. There is a mixture of PDA, basic and more advanced phones in there. The one that stood out is the E60 which seems to have a lot of features without turning into a PDA or having a camera.

Re:Metrics please (1)

OwnedByTwoCats (124103) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113127)

When I upgraded my phone (and my wife's phone... she was the real driver, and had used up the battery in her old phone) last summer, the cheapest option for us was a pair of camera phones.

The cheapest option for the consumer frequently wins. Look at PC-DOS.

Re:Metrics please (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113234)

Camera phones are fast replacing a number of regular phones

Are they? The "article" quotes no source and no statistics for this claim. How can anyone be sure?


Well, it is my personal experience that nearly everyone getting a new (GSM) phone gets a camera phone. Contract users often get 'free' phones and 'upgrades' (new phones) on renewing the contracts (often yearly). This means there's not much of a market for cheap, low-featured phones; why pay for a cheap phone with a no colour screen, no camera, no IrDA and no bluetooth, when I can get a phone with all those features just by getting a friend's old contract phone unlocked?

And with single-chip 640x480 CMOS sensors availaible for less than $10, it's not suprising that manufacturers are keen to integrate them. $10 increase in cost, $20 increase in selling price = profit.

But you're probably looking for a reputable citation. Google to the rescue [google.co.uk] ! According to one market research group [npd.com] :

An increasing number of mobile phones are being produced and sold with camera capabilities.

"The convenience factor is very high but the quality and flexibility of digital cameras still far surpass camera phones," said Liz Cutting, senior imaging analyst, The NPD Group.

In 2005, 45 percent of all mobile phones sold in the U.S. were camera phones, up from 26 percent in 2004. Asia followed a very similar trend. Western Europe had a higher incidence of camera phones at 64 percent, and Japan had a much greater adoption rate with more than 90 percent of all mobile phones sold with camera capabilities both in 2004 and 2005.

"Even though there are an increasing number of mobile phones with camera capabilities, people are using them more for spur-of-the-moment picture taking and not for planned events where they are taking along better quality and higher resolution digital cameras," said Knoche.


Or here's another [infotrends-rgi.com] (it has a nice graph, check it out):

InfoTrends projects that worldwide camera phone shipments will grow from 233 million units in 2004 to 903 million units in 2010. By 2010, camera phones are expected to account for 87% of all mobile phone handsets shipped.

The primary drivers behind this explosion are improvements in imaging functions (i.e. image sensors, zoom, and auto focus); rapid declines in prices for this functionality; higher speed wireless bandwidth; and easier-to-use handsets, services, and peripherals.


I'm sure people like Mintel have lots of reports availiable. You just often have to pay to see this stuff...

Michael

You pay for it?? (2, Insightful)

Lispy (136512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112960)

Not sure about it in the US, but in Germany I get a new cellphone every year at least if you make ~150 a month for the provider. I can choose from about 80 models and I pay nothing for the latest model.

You might argue that I pay the phone via my monthly bill, but given the competition I don't think it's true anymore. Basically the phone is pretty much a giveaway for staying with the same provider.

Cams in mobiles are pretty handy btw. I use it to record information that I would otherwise forget, stuff like the settings of my distortion pedal for my guitar and the like.

Re:You pay for it?? (1)

Lispy (136512) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112984)

Not whoring for hits but on my bandsite [blissx.co.uk] you can see some of the pics I took with an old camphone Nokia 7250.
I kinda like the trashy look of those cheapo optics...

Please be nice to me, as I am not a native speaker let me know if the lyrics have glaring errors in it. :)

Re:You pay for it?? (1)

Moqui (940533) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113057)

The United States is far behind both Japan and Europe in its ability to bring front-line cellular technology to market. No idea why, other than our providers are happy to gorge themselves on the current service offerings, and shy away from spending additional capital on upgrades. I know there would be a market for the cutting-edge phones that the rest of the world has.

the reviewer is the problem (5, Insightful)

Mantorp (142371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112972)

He says he took only 20 pictures in 3 months with his 2 mp camera phone. Why the hell is he reviewing cameraphones then?

I probably take 20 pics per week on mine, I send them to friends and family straight from the phone, sometimes I post things on my family's website from it. I'll never get a phone without a camera.

Just a regional issue? (2, Interesting)

raist_online (522240) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112983)

Couple of things - first off I have a 4MP compact digital camera and a 2MP (Sony K750i) camera phone.

The camera comes with me to 'occasions' - places where I know I'm going to take photos (outings, birthdays, family stuff, etc) - it has a real optical zoom, 1Gb Sd card and flash.

My phone is with me all the time and so I can take photos of things that catch my eye - landscapes, unexpected events, something fun that happens in the pub - it has only a digital zoom, .5 Gb Memory Stick Pro Duo, no flash (but you can buy one)

And, you know, for outdoor, non-zoomed stuff, the results a re about the same. I'm not a camera buff, nor a pro and I think that is the point - to those of us that just want a memory recording device that will adequately capture an event most phones are up to the task.

And so back to the point of my title - that is certainly my experience IN THE UK and EUROPE - having spent sopme time in the US they are WAY behind when it comes to phone tech - seems to be the result of a bad market and provder model. Anyway - phones in the UK and Europe are certainly up to being useful, usually free with a contract and do the job. I wish more article writers would remember or explicitly state US != World

Worth it: if you can get pictures somewhere useful (3, Informative)

mtg101 (321836) | more than 8 years ago | (#15112996)

Having a 2 megapixel camera is pretty pointless if you only use it to put a picture of your partner on the phone's main screen, or to send multimedia messages (which reduces the quality to something like VGA quality).

However if you can get the image from the phone to an internet site like Flickr, TextAmerica, Kodak, &c, then it is worth having a 2 megapixel image, just like it's worth having a decent amount of megapixels for your regular digital camera. The higher quality is useful for displaying on a PC, or for printing the photo, and so on.

Unfortunately it's very hard to get your pictures from your phone to the internet. Email and WAP uploaders have proved not good enough for this task, and hardly anyone does this.

A new generation of software is emerging on phones though. Services like ShoZu [shozu.com] allow you to upload full quality images from your phone to sites like Flickr, TextAmerica, &c, in a very simple manner, and also allow editing of titles, descriptions and even tags both before and after upload. With this sort of service on your phone it really is worth having a decent camera in your phone.

Re:Worth it: if you can get pictures somewhere use (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113081)

We're up to about 4 megapixel phones in Japan and have had mpeg video and true 3G for years. There have been sites for uploading directly for years. You folks are just years behind since western companies have no incentive to invest - they would rather just continue to suck every last ounce of profit from older technology.

The same is true in TV broadcast technology and internet speed and cost. Creative people always find ways to make technology interesting.

Re:Worth it: if you can get pictures somewhere use (1)

OneManCongaLine (901777) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113126)

Well, I just use the USB-cable that comes with it to get the images over to my computer. It works ok, ofcourse you have to have your comupter nearby, but arenä't we all geeks in here? =) Seriously, I have recently upgraded from a Sonyericsson T610 (crappy camera) to a W800i (better camera) and all of a sudden found lots of practical uses for it. Not to take family-album type photos, but for instance -Take a picture of the bus time-table when I pass the bus-station so I can check when it is time to head back and not miss a twice-an-hour bus with a minute or two -Take "before" pictures of stuff I disasesemble (like pulling out a lot of cables from a switchboard or something) to make it easier to put back together if I screw up and there is no documentation at hand -Check if I missed a spot on the back of my head while shaving it =P I also find it plenty good for taking "drunk party pictures" in situations I really hesitate to bring my "real" digital camera for fear of losing it or having it smashed in a brawl or getting puked on. (Yeah I know I should probably stop going to those social occasions...) -

Why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113006)

I own one at the moment, and I am ready to pay for a cellphone with better camera. It is kind of coool to have one. And I will prefer it over cellphone having word/excel etc

With the camera, I am ready always to shoot whatever I wanted. It comes handy. Yeah, may not be great picture quality but the capturing the instance is more important for me.

Quality varies (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113025)

I had a Samsung D500 phone with a 1 Megapixel camera. The quality was superb and I was really impressed with it. The phone had to go though because that was the only good feature, it wasn't even useful as a phone. I got a Nokia 6230i with a 1.3 Megapixel camera. I'm still stunned at how bad the quality of the pictures are.

Basically, if you're going to buy something on the strength of the inbuilt camera, make sure the quality of the pictures is actually good.

They all suck (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113031)

I dont care if you can get a 30 megapixel phone, It's images will suck.

The only way they can get lenses in these things is to either use the ceramic lenses or tiny plastic lenses at fixed focus and the image will stink no matter what.

I have an old Fuji S1 3 megapixel digiatal camera in my closet that will kick the crap out of the highest megapixel point and shoot on the market today simply because I can plop a $1000.00 lens on it.

90% of the image is in the optics and ALL cameraphones have crappy optics simply because there is no room for the real stuff.

Unless people want to put a SLR up to their head to talk Cameraphones will always stink at photo's.

Re:They all suck (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113130)

That's why I use the Canon Digital Rebel XCP [bbspot.com] Camera with integrated cell phone.

Of course they suck..... (1)

jjh37997 (456473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113055)

Of course they suck..... it's a camera-phone! All manufactured goods have limits.... size.... cost... etc.... If phone makers wanted to integrate a camera that was as good as a standalone digital they'd either have to sacrifice something... like battery life or call quality. Since people still buy camera-phones primarily as phones of course the camera function is going to suck.

In a word...No. (1)

matt328 (916281) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113060)

For us practical people who don't get off on bragging about their "megapixels on their cell phone" or their "gigabytes on their flash drive" its simply not a concern at all. Sadly enough, I do work with one of those people, tried to show off his new flash drive which held 6gb. I might have been impressed if he even had the foggiest notion of exactly how much information 1 gigabyte is. I would also put money on the fact that its sitting in his pocket totally empty as are the (2) 250gb external hard drive we just had to buy him.

The point of this rant is these are the types of people who drive companies to produce all these products that have no practical use other than to have 'more megabytes' than yours.

Data storage please (3, Insightful)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113061)

I just want a phone with a gigabyte of flash memory and bluetooth capability to be able to mount as a drive and store data on.

Re:Data storage please (1)

Dysfnctnl85 (690109) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113131)

http://www.sonyericsson.com/spg.jsp?cc=us&lc=en&ve r=4000&template=pm1_1&zone=pm&mcid=32/ [sonyericsson.com]

Ignoring the format you are limited to, said phone(s) exist, they just aren't as readily available in the States.

Re:Data storage please (1)

wjcofkc (964165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113242)

Well, for some reason that page does not render in Safari, but based on what you are saying, I would not settle for less than the most unrestricted plain vanilla memory stick in a phone.

Now that I think about, all wireless and incognito and whatnot, that would be one potentially malicious piece of equipment.

A Camera is a Tool (3, Insightful)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113065)

We use white boards for brainstorming sessions, almost every day. Then, we use a digital camera to capture the image into our documentation. Many of our software requirements and design documents have embedded pictures, which are mostly produced with digital cameras from whiteboard drawings.

We used to use a regular digital camera, and just keep one in each conference room. But they kept growing legs, getting misplaced, needing batteries, or just malfunctioning. Cameras that are owned by individuals have the advantage that the individual actually takes care of the thing, so it is much more likely to be available and work when it is needed.

The key to any tool is to use it appropriately. A camera can be misused, such as to transmit confidential material to a competitor. A camera can also be very useful, to record and communicate drawings within the company.

Banning cameras does not protect the confidential information, unless the organization also bans email, removable disks, printers, paper, and briefcases. Only two things are actually accomplished by banning any specific tool: It makes the organization less productive; And it tells the people that they are not trusted. Both effects are counter-productive.

1.3 Megapixels (-1, Redundant)

bahwi (43111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113086)

1.3 Megapixels ought to be enough for anybody.

Well, let me call bullshit on that story... (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113096)

"The camera integration has in fact reached such a stage that any self-respecting phone would incorporate at least a megapixel camera."

That's of course not true, since there's an antire range of business phones with no camera at all (the lack of camera is even a feature in that environment), and a lot of them come with VGA camera (0.3 MP).

I still think there's enough sense left in the phone manifacturers to embed phone features depending on their target audience desires/needs, and not because of some ill conceived understanding of "self-respectness".

"I am questioning the entire range of 2-megapixel camera phones. Are they really worth it? For the most part, no"

The phone manifacturers don't try to put the embed camera as a standalone camera replacement, so why do you? Yes ok, breaking news, phone cameras are not to be used by photographers for professional work. Duh.

I am a happy owner of a K750i which is part of the review, and I actually claim the quality of the photos is pretty good compared to the majority of other phones with lesser cameras. You can even use it to make average to good quality prints for your home album, especially if you first process the image a bit to clean it up.

The 2MP camera phones are actually the first that you can use to make photos you can keep, and not just a smudge where you barely recognize someone's face on. For this, they are perfect.

And the K750i is so tiny! Not quite like the pro cameras you compare it with...

Strip it off, and win in size and prize (1)

Bromskloss (750445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113110)

Wouldn't we rather see a stripped down cell phone, which, instead of cameras, games, voice recognition, accelerometers and spacecraft launch pads, would be rediculously tiny and cheaper than it's behemoth counterparts. It's hardly like they are small enough as they are.

Well, that's how I would like them anyway. The extra things are just junk. (Apart from the launch pad, possibly.)

Having bought a 2MP Camera Phone... (3, Informative)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113112)

I have to say I feel it was entirely worth it.

Firstly i'm not coming on to defend my purchase. To be honest the phone was free anyway on a contract upgrade I needed to make so I thought i'd go for it.

The phone is a Nokia N70 and, for all of its foibles (including the incredibly annoying slide open camera activation / lens protection cover) the camera stands out as a superb product.

I'd love to link to an image i've taken from it but fear the slashdot effect would ruin me on hosting charges.. but under the right conditions (ie NOT night time) the camera returns impressive pictures. Yes, in low light it makes everything look incredibly washed out - yes the delay is enormous on taking a picture - but in good average daylight conditions pictures come back looking almost as good as those of my old 2MP Olympus point and shoot which i've since retired.

One of the 'points' of camera phones for me was just having a camera with you at all times in case something unusual happened - be that a car accident (and you need to record photographic evidence of the scene), a good sunset, etc - the increase in MP allows you to do this more and more - previous generations meant that the picture was only 640x480 or so and this didn't really allow you to get the whole picture across!

Cheers.

US is simply behind the world (0, Flamebait)

mahasvin (951406) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113117)

There is nothing amazing in 2MP cameraphones. In Korea entry level phones have 5MP cameras and decent Sony Cybershots with 3,2 MPs are inside new Sony Ericsson GSM phones of K-series. The article is simply obsolete.

It's about using the camera (1, Troll)

emj (15659) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113124)

This article is FUD.

I use my mobilep hone camera, it's a lousy 1MP. Using a 2MP camera phone really makes it possible to see details and colours. You can argue that this has nothing to do with the amount of Mega Pixels your camera has; e.g. the lense, the CMOS area, is more important etc etc. But more megapixels usually means better quality.

Should you buy a new phone just because it's a 2MP camera, why not! If you take pictures, tell my why I wouldn't want them in better resolution?

Last year amounted to 20MB (~200-300 pics) of photos from my phone. Most of them would never have been shot if I didn't have a mobile phone with a camera, and I assure you that I want to keep alot of them.

Nokia 9300i does not have camera! (1)

yopie (470181) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113143)

According to the article “the handsets aimed at business users, such as the Nokia 9300i and the O2 Atom/Mini incorporate some pretty heavy duty cameras.”

Nokia 9300i [nokia.com] does not have a camera! Nokia 9500 [nokia.com] have a camera.

For everyone who wants a cameraless cellphone (2, Interesting)

Pikoro (844299) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113241)

Not going to happen.

Almost every cellular phone company that is not based in Japan competes with the ones who are.

I have seen 2 models of cellular phone here in Japan without a camera built in. Both of those models are meant for "old people". It's simply a keypad with an lcd display so you can double czech the number you are calling. Keys are big for people who have a hard time pushing these tiny buttons. Even the latest phones designed for elementary school children have cameras and gps built into them.

On the other hand, some of the latest models here in Japan come with 4 megapixel cameras built in.

I am of the mind, however, that a phone should be exactly that. Something to call others with. A way to take calls when I am not in the office. Don't get me wrong. I like my current phone (W21S) but I never use any of the features of it. I call people. People call me. What use have I for the GPS, TV tuner, Radio, Java, QR Code reader, and camera that are built in? The camera does come in handy sometimes, for those spontaneous shots or situations, but other than that, I don't need the other features. Hell, I'm thinking of re-activating my "old" lcd only phone mostly because of it's "lack" of features.

Here in Japan, we simply cannot buy phones without most of these features. They don't exist.

I DO like the GPS features though. For example. I go to the cell phone shop and pick myself up a phone with a GPS. Then, I pick up some phones for the kids (and wife). Those phones will transmit their GPS coordinates to my phone when I request to know the other phone's locations. If the "child" phones are not within GPS range (due to the kids being in school or on the bus or whatnot), then I will get approximations on where they are based on triangulation of the standby signal they generate when in contact with 3 or more cellular towers. All in all, a good way to keep track of those teenagers' whereabouts ;) It also lets me add the GPS coordinates to any picture that is taken with the built in camera, and will plot it on a map for me online if I wish.

Get used to the idea that cell phones will have cameras built into them. If you don't like that, use land lines.

Sorry.

Size does matter (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15113248)

The reason the quality of cellphone cameras is so poor is due to the small size of the lense. Same is true for ultra compact digital camera's. For example, take an old Canon Ixus v2 and a brand new Ixus 50. The Ixus 50 is very slim, about two times smaller than the v2, has got 5MP, the newest DIGIC II processor, bla blah. But it has trouble focusing and shooting in low light, and despite the wide angle lens, Canon decided to include a heavy flash to increase focal depth, contributing to many over exposed shots. The good old 2MP Ixus v2 might be a little irresponsive at times and doesn't have the full fancy framerate auto-gamma übercool LCD display, but it beats the Ixus 50 easily on the lighting, colours and image quality departement.

There's no sense in this at all (2, Informative)

rlk (1089) | more than 8 years ago | (#15113274)

Image quality is limited by optics and by the size (overall size -- in millimeters) of the sensor. With trashy optics and a tiny sensor, it doesn't matter how many (ever tinier) pixels one jams onto that sensor; the image quality just won't be there.

I advise people who want a point and shoot (which has a much bigger sensor than a cell phone, but much smaller than an SLR) to not bother with more than 3 megapixels or so. There are some expensive "advanced" non-SLR digital cameras that have sensors comparable to SLR sensors, but most point and shoot cameras have sensors no more than 1/2" on the diagonal. Most digital SLR's are about 1.2" diagonal, and 35 mm SLR's (such as film cameras and the EOS 5D and 1Ds digital cameras) are a bit less than 2" on the diagonal.

The basic issue here is the pixel size, which (along with lens speed) controls how much light the pixel can gather. The larger the pixel, the more light it can gather and the less noise it will have. There's also the wavelength of light to consider; as the pixel gets smaller, the ability to resolve between neighboring pixels becomes less.

The sweet spot for digital SLR's with APS-C sensors with 1.5 or 1.6 cropping factors (such as the low to midrange Canon and Nikon cameras) seems to be about 8-10 megapixels. Canon's latest offering (the 30D) stayed at 8 MP. The Nikon D200 is 10 megapixels, but it's noisier at high ISO settings than the 20D/30D. This would suggest that full-frame (35 mm) digital SLR's won't get much above 20 megapixels (based on pixel size), and you'll have to go to medium format to get much more than that. If the Foveon sensor ever gets perfected the marketing numbers will triple (since each position would have a sensor for each color), but the grid won't change.

It's possible to reduce noise by lowering the effective ISO (in other words, allowing more light into the sensor by requiring longer exposures). So while the EOS 20D has excellent noise performace even at ISO 800, a typical point and shoot (with its tiny sensor) will be very noisy above ISO 100 or 200.

Finally, there's the matter of the lens. My own tests suggest that I only get the full 8 megapixel resolution out of the 20D if I use a good lens (such as the 85 f/1.8 or 200 f/2.8 prime lenses), well stopped down and very carefully focused, and otherwise in good conditions (on a tripod or with a very short exposure). I recently took a shot at sunset with a 1 second exposure at f/16 with my 200 mm lens and there was very sharp single pixel detail. Even slight blur will very quickly reduce the useful pixel count; if it's blurred to the extent that there's no useful detail at less than 2 pixel resolution, you're effectively at the 2 megapixel level.

So what does all of this mean? Camera phones have tiny sensors, with cheap lenses, and can't have long exposures. However many pixels the sensor may have, I'd be surprised if the effective resolution of the output is more than a few hundred thousand pixels.
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