Camera Hacker


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The Apple iPhone 3G Camera App

A lot of attention has been paid to the iPhone 3G from Apple. Overall the phone is big hit, but one of the core features that has taken a lot of negative criticism is the camera. True, the camera is “only” 2 megapixels, which is low for a camera phone these days, and its functionality is limited (but there are ways around that, as I will describe later). I have actually found the camera to be quite usable and useful and have found the quality acceptable under many if not most of the circumstances in which I use it.

True, there are problems with the camera. The most significant is the shutter speed. Your subject needs to be holding still for a usable picture, unless a big smear is what you're actually after. Low light photos are also very grainy and undersaturated, which is to be expected from any camera with a single CCD and no flash. This camera is no replacement for even a standard brand name point and shoot camera. Also, Apple provides no video support for the camera, which is perplexing since it is clearly capable of taking video.

However, once I accepted these limitations, I find the that the camera actually performs pretty well. If I need to take a few quick snaps of something when I'm out and about, or family photos at the park, it's convenient and the results are generally acceptable. In addition to the Apple provided “Camera” app that controls the picture taking function, there are dozens if not hundreds of apps available from Apple's App Store in iTunes that make clever use of the camera. There are apps that allow you to take and manipulate photos in fun ways, as well as record notes and thoughts using photos. All well and good, if you are a responsible, obedient Apple iPhone user.

For the more daring – those willing to “jailbreak” their iPhone using Pwnage Tool (do a Google search if interested) – there are a number of sophisticated and free apps that offer more advanced picture taking capabilities as well as video recording and even live, web-based video streaming. The one thing I am still missing is the ability to do live video conferencing using the iPhone, but that would require a camera on the front of the phone instead of or in addition to the back, so I don't see much likelihood in a viable video chat solution in the current iteration of the iPhone.

I use my iPhone daily and carry it with me everywhere I go, so I end up using its Camera often and surprisingly, I'm quite happy with the results. There is a lot of room for improvement, to be sure, but with all that's good about the iPhone, the problems with its camera are relatively insignificant.

Sat, 14 Feb 2009 19:39:11 +0000

I agree with your assessment. 2MP isn't all bad. I think folks who want better camera functions have to look for other devices that provide it. i think the reason video isn't included is because of the quality. And to some extent, the battery life in the 3G iPhone'll get killed.

I'm always under the impression that camera's on phones are for convenience and fun. Remember the 240x200 resolutions?

Anyway, I do look forward to video chat on the iPhone soon.

Thu, 19 Feb 2009 21:43:25 +0000

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