Tag Archives: camera

The iPad 2 Cameras Suck – So What? Here’s Why.

Am I extremely disappointed that the iPad 2’s cameras appear to be as sub-par (much like the iPod touch’s)? Absolutely. Is it going to keep me from selling my iPad 1 to help fund an iPad 2 “upgrade?” No, I’ll be in line somewhere on Friday to get a Black 64GB 3G unit.

I just don’t think that the camera’s quality has anything to do with the iPad 2’s value as a “tablet computer.”

So, here are my theories as to why the iPad 2’s cameras suck:

  1. Try holding the iPad still, even with two hands, at arm’s length. It ain’t comfy, and it ain’t steady. I realize the iPad 2 is slightly lighter than the first gen, but it’s still gotta be in the ballpark of “awkward.”
  2. This is a “tablet computer” with a camera, not a camera with a “tablet computer.”
  3. The primary focus (no pun intended) for the lenses is to fuel FaceTime conversations. Given that, you really don’t need to push a massive resolution down the pike.
  4. When was the last time you complained that your notebook’s / netbook’s webcam was lacking? You likely use it for simple imaging needs, not for shooting pictures or videos – and it’s certainly not your primary digital camera option.
  5. Why spend money on slightly-better optics when you don’t need to? I’m just saying that Apple was likely to keep the price point at $500, and it knows that people are going to buy it despite camera resolution. If you could sell the same amount of devices, why spend more on hardware?
  6. A lesser-quality camera in the iPod touch has not (likely) dampened sales. Just sayin’.
  7. You gotta have a solid reason to get an iPad 3, right? Lord knows I’m ready for a better camera in the next iPhone. And, speaking of, does anybody else have an odd discoloring issue and a floating dot (pronounced more in certain photos) with the iPhone 4’s videos and photos?

I wanted to do a “top ten” list, but couldn’t get past seven points without jumping into extreme conspiratorial territory. Plus, 7 is my favorite number. Maybe you have other realistic ideas as to why Apple decided to ship the iPad 2 with lackluster imaging devices?

Or, let me guess – this is what you wanted the iPad 2 to be:

iPad 2 Release

iPhone 4 Vs. iPod touch – Video Camera Quality

Apple has finally created an iPod touch with a camera built-in! Is it a “Flip” killer? Yes and no.

I received an email today from community geek, David Myers:

You asked in your video “What should I do now?” and I have a suggestion. The camera on the iPhone 4 and the camera on the iPod touch are different in size and amount of megapixels. Although the iPod touch claims 720p HD video recording on the specifications page, it has no reference to megapixels, like the iPhone 4 specifications page.

I want to suggest you do something you’ve done in the past: two side-by-side video recording the same object/s from both the iPod touch and iPhone 4: one in dark lighting conditions, one in bright lighting conditions, as well as a still-image comparison test.

I’ll do a still image comparison test separately, but here are the results from a quick indoor test between the iPhone 4 and iPod touch — and each one of them handled lower lighting conditions admirably (for a pocket camera, mind you).

The biggest differences between the iPod touch and iPhone 4’s video recording capabilities are pretty cut-and-dry:

  • The iPhone 4 produces a sharper video image, overall.
  • The iPod touch camera lens has a noticeably wider field of view (in video recording mode, NOT with stills).
  • The color reproduction in the iPhone 4 seems a bit warmer (and true) compared to that of the iPod touch.
  • The audio recorded on the iPod touch seems to be a bit more rich (with bass).
  • While both do maintain ~24 frames per second in low light (indoor) conditions, the iPhone 4 produces less noisy output.

So, yes, I’d say the iPhone 4 edges out the iPod touch in terms of video recording quality. That said, I’d be more inclined to use an iPod touch in interview situations – with richer sound and the ability to get closer to the subject without sacrificing the composition (with the iPod touch’s slightly wider field of view).

I’ve long believed that the iPhone has been a “Flip” killer, given that I’m more inclined to carry my phone with me than I would a second camera. Still, if I was to carry a second camera with me from this point forward, it will likely be the iPod touch — simply because the controls are familiar, it works well in low light, and I’ll have all the charging accessories with me, anyway.

Don’t take my word for it, though; judge for yourself!

iPod touch 4th Generation

iPhone 4

HDR iPhone Camera Test – True HDR vs Pro HDR

With this week’s announcement that HDR filtering was coming to iOS devices in the next revision (4.1), I thought I’d try taking a photo of my living room with my iPhone 4 and True HDR:

iPhone HDR Camera Photo Test

Not horrible. But, here’s the same angle as snapped by Pro HDR:

Pro - iPhone HDR Camera Photo Test

The difference is like night and day (or, indoors and outdoors). “True” gave better balance between dark and lighter areas of a scene, but “Pro” produced a substantially more vibrant photo. I needed to try it again. Again, with default settings in True HDR:

HDR Test - True HDR

And, again with Pro HDR:

HDR Test - Pro HDR

It was subsequently suggested that I take an outdoor photograph (where True HDR would allegedly shine). So, I walked outside and snapped the two following images. Adjusting for the brightest spot of the composition:

HDR Photo App Test - Brightest Spot Sample Image

And adjusting for the darkest spot in the composition:

HDR Photo App Test - Darkest Spot Sample Image

Here’s how Pro HDR handled the pair:

HDR Photo App Test - Pro HDR Sample Image Output

And this is how True HDR fared with the same two sample images:

HDR Photo App Test - True HDR Sample Image Output

Ick.

If I had a couple of bucks to spend again, I’d stick with Pro HDR. Not to say that it took perfect shots, but at least I’m given sliders to better adjust output.

I honestly wish I hadn’t purchased True HDR, as even in “enhanced” mode, it continuously left images looking flat and washed out, it always took longer to process, doesn’t have an adjustment mode, and also doesn’t allow you to save revisions of edits.

Which Camera Phone is Best?

I snapped a series of shots around the house this afternoon. Tell me which ones you believe came out better?

There’s a “Camera 1” and a “Camera 2” at play (with no post-processing done on any image). In each case, I embedded “1” above “2” on this page. I wish to refrain from telling you which camera is which – letting you judge for yourself, using these images as a guide. Other enthusiasts have run similar tests between “1” and “2” this week, like Macworld. If you want to ruin the surprise, you can always scroll to the end of this article. 🙂

Between these two popular smartphone cameras, I believe the lens (hardware) wasn’t as important as the software component. Regardless, I stuck with “auto” configuration for each phone’s default camera app for these tests. The results, as you can see below, are a mixed bag – which is a good thing for impartiality (given that I’d likely get blamed if the results skewed to my phone of choice versus yours).

As always, I’d recommend calibrating your monitors with a Huey before judging image quality. Otherwise, you can’t trust your eyes (or your screen, for that matter).

Outdoor Light, Indoors Test

It’s difficult to make a dreary Seattle day appear to have been more cheerful. There is no clear winner (to me) in this particular set.

Here, “Camera 1” is definitely more vibrant and sharper (although the sharpness could’ve been due to a different focal point in the capture).

The second image does have truer-to-life colors – but I’d also note that the cream blanket popping up to the right seems to have a slight blue hue to its overexposed area.

Phone Camera 1: Muted Colors and Saturation Test

Phone Camera 2: Muted Colors and Saturation Test

Artificial Light, Indoors Test

No doubt about it: “Camera 1” needs a little saturitalin! That’s not a real product, but how else would I correct the obvious overcompensation?

“Camera 2” was not only sharper in this setting, but more accurately reflected the colors in the room. A clear winner.

Phone Camera 1: Terracotta Wall Color Test

Phone Camera 2: Terracotta Wall Color Test

Pantry Test

It’s easy to see that “Camera 1” captured white better in my pantry (rather than erring blue, like “Camera 2” did).

Phone Camera 1: White and Color Test

Phone Camera 2: White and Color Test

Texture Test

It’s impossible to ascertain full perspective by only reviewing the thumbnails (versus the original, full-sized images), but I do believe this one is a draw for me… no pun intended.

If anything, there may be a small amount of texture in the shot from “Camera 1” – but its reds seem to have a magenta complex. “Camera 2” couldn’t get a focus – but its colors were slightly more accurate (blacks were blacker, too).

I tried a few times to capture a sharper image with “Camera 2,” but there was just something about this painting it didn’t like.

Phone Camera 1: Texture and Color Test

Phone Camera 2: Texture and Color Test

The Best Cameraphone

So, there we go – four scenes around the gnomestead on a Sunday afternoon. My final verdict? I don’t think I’ll ever have one, given that the results were mixed. Half of the time, “Camera 1” fared better – and the other half of the time, “Camera 2” fared better.

I may very well do another battery of tests involving the LED flash at some point, too.

And, if you didn’t already bother to peek at EXIF data: “Camera 1” is an iPhone 4, while “Camera 2” is an HTC EVO 4G. Hats off to both engineering teams for creating cameraphones that may render so many dedicated point-and-shoot cameras obsolete.

Unfortunately, the iPhone stomped the EVO 4G in my corresponding indoor video tests.

iPhone 4 Camera Test

As you already know, my iPhone 4 arrived today. After getting everything set up and synched, I had to test it out. I’ve already recorded some videos with it, made a few calls, sent a couple of texts and talked with my buddy David via FaceTime. The next test was taking photos. I take a LOT of pictures. Most of them are done indoors at various functions, or here in my home when my dogs are being more than adorable. Therefore, I tried a few indoor shots to see how they look. YOU tell ME – how awesome is this camera?

Still photo of my office:

iPhone 4 Photo Test1

Back camera shot of Wicket without using flash:

iPhone 4 Photo Test2

Back camera shot of Wicket using flash:

iPhone 4 Photo Test3

Another forkin’ iPhone 4 photo:

Another Forkin' iPhone 4 Photo

I can already tell you – I’m a happy Geek. How are the various tests going with your new iPhone 4?

How to Buy a Digital Camera


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Mark called in the other night with questions about cameras. He’s looking for a digital camera that will record in 720p. I tend to do a lot of reviews on different cameras and camcorders. Mark knows there are several I have recommended in the past, but is still unsure which he should buy.

I jokingly told him to wait for the next iPhone because it will allegedly record in 720p. More than just features, you need to look at output with camera purchases. When you see a beautiful photo, find out what kind of camera was used to take it. You can get anything from a pocket camera to an SLR. It’s the quality of what comes out of the camera that you need to be on the watch for.

Sure, you need to decide what features are important to you. If you consistently shoot in one type of setting more than others, make sure you look for something that works well in those conditions. The camera I use to record the HD videos with was chosen because it has extremely sharp, crisp and clear output. However, it sometimes has problems focusing on a specific item. Every once in awhile, you’ll see it go in and out of focus in the middle of the video. That’s because it just doesn’t like to stay focused.

It all comes down to research – just like I’ve said in the past. Decide what things are the most important to you. Read reviews online that other people have done. Don’t just read marketing hype… all companies will claim their product is the best! It’s the people just like you who are going to tell the truth about the purchases they have made.

It seems as though every six months a whole new set of digital cameras comes out. Don’t fall for megapixels or zoom. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of the lens, processor and everything inside the camera that will mean the most to you.

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The Ultimate Digital Camera Accessory for Anyone

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Eye-Fi. All opinions are 100% mine.

I’ve written about Eye-Fi a few times before – dating back to when the brand first launched. Eye-Fi cards are like regular ol’ SD cards with a ton of bonus features mixed in. Essentially, once configured, the media you record on an Eye-Fi SD card will be wirelessly transported to your computer(s) and favorite social media destinations whenever you bring that camera home, set it on your desk, and turn it on. No cables required.

Now, let’s just think about that for a second. Despite having a wide array of gadgets that can keep us creating content ’til the cows come home, the transfer process is often cumbersome – or forgotten altogether. I remember when a “fast” turnaround for photos was about an hour. It might take us a few minutes to do that with a USB cable, but… where did I put that cable, again? Ah, there’s always the trusty media reader… unless you get distracted with other tasks?

It should come to no surprise that the company is still developing new options to keep everyone happy. You might upgrade your camera every so often, but what about your removable media? If you’re having to buy an SD card, why not get something that will automatically do the work of uploading photos and videos for you?

Okay, it’s a trivial task for someone like me (or possibly you, if you’re a geek) – but what about other members of your family? How often have your elder relatives snapped images and never transferred them anywhere because it was “too hard” to do? Yeah, point ’em in the direction of an Eye-Fi ASAP.

Mac OS X and Windows compatible software helps ensure that you’re not stuck on one platform or another, too; hardware should enhance your lifestyle, not restrict it. Your focus should be on creating and sharing fresh content – not on the actual publishing routine!

Visit my sponsor: Eye-Fi

You want one? Cool. I’m hosting an Eye-Fi Giveaway (and be sure to read the official contest rules). To participate, simply leave a comment about Eye-Fi on this particular blog post. I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me what kind of digital camera you typically use, too. Your email address won’t be made public, but we’ll need you to use it if you’d like us to contact you should you be randomly picked. 😉

Or, post about Eye-Fi with your own Twitter account. The tweet must contain the hashtag #eye-fi (as well as a live link back to http://go.tagjag.com/myeyefi).

I bet I know what you’re thinking right now: “But Chris, I’d understand Eye-Fi better if a cute girl explained it to me in a YouTube video.” As you wish:

Which Camera is Better?

Over on Geeks, someone was wondering which camera is the best. The first thought that came to my mind was what the bot in our chat room will tell you if you ask “what is better.”

“Chris recommends you use what you want to use, download what you want to download, try what you want to try, buy what you want to buy. These choices are all personal in nature, so it’s always difficult to answer the question of “which is better” (so don’t be surprised if Chris doesn’t answer your impossible question).”

No one can answer this question for you. It’s one thing to ask which cameras (or whatever it is you’re looking for) someone uses, why they prefer it, and whether they’ve had any issues with it. That is called information gathering, and is an important part of the research you should be doing before buying anything new. Always ask questions of others. Find out what their experiences have been with their devices. Read reviews online. Ask for recommendations.

Don’t ask ME what the best is, or you’ll likely get a reply much like the one above from the Pixie bot. What’s best for me may not be what works the best for you.

I DO know that what’s best for your computer is to keep it updated with the latest and greatest software we can find!

Gifts for Him and Her


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I gave you a chance to ask for what you wanted this holiday season. Hundreds of you responded, but only one of you… actually, TWO of you were given a gift. We’ll do this again next year, assuming our community continues to grow.

The first winner was Kari, who asked for a digital camera for her stepdad. Apparently, her camera was stolen somewhere on her college campus recently. So, her stepdad didn’t think twice, and gave his camera to her so she’d have one. Kari didn’t ask for something for herself. She asked for something for another person, which is why I chose her as a winner. Her video was very touching, and her intentions were very good.

The other winner is long-time community member Ron Knights. Ron asked for financial help to go visit his elderly parents for the holidays. I believe Ron himself lives clear up in Maine, and his parents are in Atlanta, Georgia. Living on a fixed income, it’s difficult for Ron to make the trip on his own. I’m more than happy to help out, so that they can spend some time together. Ron also posted a follow-up thank you video last night. That made his winning even more special for me!

I had a great time going through all of the videos. It was a tough choice, to be sure. Thank you to everyone who entered. I appreciate your support!

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