For those of us who use a compact digital camera as an everyday documenation and snapshot tool the time may have come to ditch the dedicated camera in favor of a high resolution camera phone.
In addition to having a gadget fetish I’ve been a fairly serious amateur photographer for a few years now. (my photoblog here) Thanks to EBay I’ve owned about eight compact digitals and three pro-grade digital SLR’s (a sad statistic). Recently, I purchased my first camera phone. I’d never been impressed with camera phone image quality but the Sony Ericsson k750i looked promising with a two-mega pixel camera, a digital music player, and a removable Sony Memory Stick flash memory slot on the outside of the phone.
After using it for a few days I was really impressed. When printed at 4×6 the images were comparable to the snapshots from my compact Canon S70. For advanced photographers, interested in more than merely documenting things with a snapshot, a dedicated digital camera may be the right choice. But as a photographer myself I found the k750i to be surprisingly good. Among other features the camera lens has a sliding cover on the back of the phone and it has a variety of modes, white balance, and exposure adjustment settings if you have the urge to get creative. With a dedicated outboard slot for a 2gb memory stick the phone is capable of storing lots of images as well as music for it’s built-in media player. It also synchs well with Outlook and has a good battery life.
If there is a shortcoming of this camera phone it is probably its lack of a flash. It has a very bright LED that lights up most scenes but it lacks true strobe flash that you find on compact digitals. Although, except for really dark rooms I’ve found the camera to do a pretty good job and still produce nice 4×6 prints (in most well lit interiors the camera does great without a flash). SonyEricsson offers a strobe flash that attaches to the bottom of the phone if you really want one.
I could go on, but I’ll just tell you that after a week of moderate to severe geeking out I concluded that owning a compact digital camera and a capable 2mp camera phone was probably superfluous. I sold my S70 on eBay and haven’t missed it at all.
While iPods and digital cameras are still wildly popular these days, it’ll be interesting to see what happens to these devices as music and picture taking functionality converge onto one device. Besides killing two birds with one stone, having the ability to zap your images over the internet from your phone is pretty cool and potentially quite useful as better services develop around high-resolution camera phones. Already we are seeing sites like ScanR that allow you to turn a camera phone image sent over the internet into a pdf or fax.
**One thing to note is that the k750i is available from electronics retailers in the US but comes as an unlocked GSM phone and is not officially offered by any carriers here in America. Getting it to work is as easy as inserting your SIM card and sending the appropriate settings from the SonyEricsson support site to your phone (my carrier is Cingular). If you travel internationally and use a GSM phone in the States this phone might be a great choice since it works on the 900, 1800, and 1900mhz frequencies. But if you don’t want to bother with that you might want to wait for the SonyEricsson W800 (the Walkman phone) which is coming out in the US very soon. The W800 is virtually the same phone with the same great camera and functionality as the k750i with some added features like a “flight mode” so you can listen to music on an airplane while the phone’s radio is turned off.