Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Warning: Some Readers May Be Blinded By The Obviousness

It may not be a huge revelation but camera phone cameras suck. But sometimes there is a moment when blindingly obvious points are driven home quite dramatically. For me that moment came between the time of 5:30 and 6:00 AM Central Standard Time. I was walking down the street minding my own business when I looked up and admired a beautiful blue sky dominated by an almost full moon hanging low in the sky. Surely, I had to record this beautiful sight....So I pulled out my T-Mobile G1 and pressed the camera button. And then the camera application crashed...again and again. And it kept either crashing or hanging until I reset my phone. This isn't all together surprising. The G1's Android operating system is normally quite stable but if it is not reset every few days, repeatedly running and quitting applications will cause memory leaks that leave digital bric-a-brac all over an Android phone's memory. Sooner or later, applications will start to trip over it. In my experience, the G1's camera app is particularly clumsy in this regard.

So I decided to try a little experiment. I grabbed my Treo 680, my G1, and a real camera—a Canon PowerShot SD770 IS Digital Elph (what a name)—and took a few pictures.

First the Treo 680. Yuck. In fairness to the 680, it was actually a pretty good camera phone for its time when used under the right conditions. But its VGA resolution makes it worthless for this particular job—taking a picture of a nearly full moon during early morning hours with plenty of light. These are actually pretty good conditions for taking pictures with the 680 but again, it's low resolution is its Achilles Heel.

Next up is the T-Mobile G1. With its three megapixel resolution it can actually capture and show the moon as a round white blob. Under certain conditions, the G1 can take great pictures. In fact most of the pictures on this blog have been taken with the G1. But it simply can't capture the beautiful details that the naked eye can see in an object as "small" as the moon.

Finally, the Canon with the long name, ten megapixel resolution, and wide variety of zoom options. The camera can't capture the amount of detail the human eye can see either but at least it begins to hint at it with subtle shades of gray and off white that stand out against the blue sky. It's no contest.

So much for digital convergence.

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