Saturday, 6 February 2010

My Mobile Phone Camera

I've owned mobile phones of one flavour or another for about 15 years now.  I always eagerly anticipated the next generation of phones that would come out every year or two, bringing technological leaps and bounds to what has essentially become a mini-laptop (ok, so they're not *quite* that good yet) in the palm of your hands.  I wasn't one of those people who had to have the latest and greatest, but I wanted to keep up and see what they could do, to see if there ever was anything worth getting to replace whatever I was using at the time.

One thing that really caught my interest was the evolution of the smart phones, and about 6 years or so ago, I actually got one when the company I was working for switched providers and went with some very cool (at the time) Windows Mobile 5 "PPC" (Pocket PC) phones.  I was blown away.  I could sync it all up to my Outlook; Address book, schedule, ToDo list, the lot, I could browse the web, I could even hook it up via USB to get my laptop online wherever I had a signal.

I was sold, completely.  When I left that company and had to relinquish my phone, I decided to go get one for myself, so I picked up an MDA Vario II.  Loved it, great for work, and I loved the ability to have it sync up with my PC, and the media capabilities had improved slightly too, meaning it was a sort-of viable mp3/video/podcast player during long train trips (ok, so the screen was a little small to be able to really watch a 2hr movie on a train ride, but I was happy).

I got the Vario on an 18 month contract, but when it was up I switched over to a shiny new Samsung Omnia, with 8GB of storage, and another 8GB provided by a Mini-SDHC card.  Now I had plenty of space for as many tunes as I wanted, a few videos, and I could download Podcasts on my PC at full broadband speeds, and then pop them over with a USB cable to watch at my leisure (and with my Sony Bluetooth stereo earphone headset, it sounds better than an iPhone).  It also has GPS, which has proven to be more accurate than TomTom at finding good routes on several trips around the country.  That said, I do miss my Vario's keyboard.

The one thing that never interested me even in the slightest about any mobile phone was the inclusion of a digital camera.  What's the point?  I can't change the aperture, shutter speed, ISO, or even the focal length. They produce noisy, horrible pictures I'd be ashamed to put my name to.  I think at this point in my life, I've taken a total of maybe 20 photos with a phone, ever, and those only when I've gone out shopping to take a photo of something to show the wife when I get home in order to get her blessing before spending a bunch of money.

But, with all of the talk of Chase Jarvis, his Best Camera application for the iPhone, and the book to go with it all it has started to get me a little more curious about the abilities of the humble crappy camera built into my Samsung Omnia.  I'm not even going to bother trying on the Vario as its camera is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

I've now decided I'm going to start using my mobile phone to start taking more pictures as I go about my daily life.  I might not use it every day, but I'm going to try to remember to use it at least once a week, and with the discovery of Kinoma Freeplay, I have the ability to publish the photos straight from my phone to flickr.

Whether I'll be able to deal with the hassle of an on-screen keyboard to also publish on Blogger from my phone, well, only time will tell, but for now I am determined to try to get at least *some* use out of this little camera included in my phone.

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