Friday, October 14, 2011

Will Camera Phones Replace Cameras?

iPhone 4S has an 8 Megapixel Camera
Apple fans, including co-founder Steve Wozniak, were lined up on Friday morning for a chance to buy the iPhone 4S. It contains an A5 processor (the same one in the iPad 2), which Apple says will render data twice as fast as the iPhone 4 and graphics up to seven times faster.

The 5MP camera on the Iphone 4 has been bumped up to 8MP, which Apple claims "might be the best camera ever on a phone". It also has a bigger aperture of f2.4, while the illumination sensor has been improved, and there's additional face detection. The video camera can shoot in HD 1080p rather than HD 720p, and it has added video stabilization that the Iphone 4 camera doesn't have.

Can the iPhone replace my DSLR 8MP camera?  I think in time they might be able to do that, but for right now no and here are some of the reasons.

Sensor Size

Power-lines as you know can cause interference in your car's radio the closer you get to them. Nikon P700 ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/60
The sensor they use in a camera phone isn't the same size sensor they use in your DSLR.  While the megapixel count maybe the same the pixels are small and more compact.  The closer these pixels are to each other the same affect happens as when your car is closer to the power-lines and you are listening to your radio, you get interference.

You can hear the "noise" on your radio and you will see the "noise" in your photos. There is no grain in digital like we had with film, but the effect looks similar.  The more "noise" the grainier the photo looks.

As I was taking my morning walk I saw this and it helped me think of a way to explain noise in photos. Nikon P7000 ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/110
As electronics get smaller and they have electricity running through them this creates heat and the smaller the electronics the heat tends to increase. This is one of the things being tackled with nanotechnology.


Processor in iPhone 4S and iPad 2
The A5 processor in the new phone is faster than the older processor, but this isn't the only thing that determines quality of your image. The software in the phone processes the image from the chip and turns it into a JPEG.  This process presently tends to make some judgement calls and gives some smearing affect as compared to an image shot on a DSLR in RAW.

When you can shoot RAW on your camera phone which gives your more control then you maybe able to do a great deal more.

Lens, Shutter Speed and Aperture

Right now most phones do not give you controls over the aperture to change it.  You just have a box camera. In many ways the camera in your phone is very similar to the Kodak box camera that they first introduced more than 130 years ago.  You couldn't control the shutter speed, the aperture the focus or the ISO on the camera.  For the most part this is why the camera phone isn't replacing anytime soon the DSLR or even the point and shoot cameras.

What you gain in convenience with the camera phone you often give up many controls which can make your images a higher quality.

Why I like my Nikon P7000

Another photo from my early morning walk with my Nikon P7000 ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/550
Fall leaves are changing on my street. Nikon P7000 ISO 100, f/4.5, 1/100
For all the reasons the iPhone 4S has deficiencies is why I love my Nikon P7000. The sensor is bigger and so less noise.  While it is only 10 megapixel and not all that bigger file size than the 8 megapixel iPhone, it is a cleaner file.

I can shoot RAW in addition to the JPEGs.  My camera offers Fine, Medium and Basic JPEGs where as with most camera phones you have no options.  I believe most of them are shooting a Basic JPEG due to the quality I see in them.

I can pick my ISO, my aperture, my shutter speed and I have an optical zoom.  My camera phone has none of these options.

Until all these are in the camera phone, the camera phone will be used for convenience, but I will most certainly still want to use my other cameras for images with enough quality to hang on my walls.


Larry said...

Interesting post Stanley. I don't think the cell phone can replace a DSLR - mostly because of lens size. However, it may replace the point and shoot very soon!

blackberry unlock code said...

Cameras in phones keep getting better and better. It’s pretty easy to find a phone with an 8 megapixel camera and a flash, and they’re not even that expensive but nothing beats DSLR in terms of quality and zoom magnification.

blackberry store said...

Camera phones manufacturers continue to innovate and add new features and higher resolution to cameras but I think they can never beat cameras. Camera is just an added feature for a phone but it's a main feature for a camera itself.