Tag Archives | Digital Photography

Are Cameraphones Killing the Point-and-Shoot? Not Yet, Not Hardly

Over the past few days I’ve had fun taking photos with a couple of neat new cameras…that happen to be phones. They’re the iPhone 4 and Verizon’s upcoming Droid X, and their cameras are the best in any phones I’ve ever used. So much so that they left me pondering the future of point-and-shoot cameras that aren’t phones.

Phones have already killed traditional PDAs dead. The best ones also render media players such as an iPod largely superfluous, and the days of standalone GPS handhelds are clearly numbered. Are we nearing the moment when a meaningful number of people will skip buying a separate camera in favor of snapping photos with a phone?

Some thoughts on that in a moment–but first, my impressions of the photographic capabilities of these two handsets. When I had plenty of natural light, I liked most of the photos from both phones quite a bit…although even the nicest portraits I took looked slightly out of focus and lacking in detail. In murkier environments, the iPhone performed better than the Droid X, although the LED flashes on both phones aren’t very useful. (They only made a noticeable difference when there was very little available light, and even then tended to produce unflattering, fuzzy portraits.)

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Slightly Creepy: Frame Wizard Makes Still Pictures Move

One of the more interesting items being demoed Wednesday in New York was FaceCake’s Frame Wizard, a picture frame that does more than just cycle through your pictures with pretty transitions. The technology has been out for a little over a year, but the company appears to be again pushing it as we come into the holiday season.

Here’s a video shot on YouTube of the picture frames so you get an idea of what it does — its better illustrated by this then me telling you about it:

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Google Picks Up Picnik

Picnik isn’t just my favorite online image editor–it’s one of my favorite Web-based applications, period, with a clever user interface that improves on that of desktop apps rather than just imitating them. And now Picnik is part of Google. Hearing that Google has acquired something I love always leaves me in a quandary, since you never know if the company in question will turn out to be the next YouTube or the next Jaiku. But this much is true: It should be pretty easy to figure out how to make Picnik’s cool tools into a welcome part of Picasa Web Albums


Photos That Talk

Fotobabble, which launched today, lets you share and embed photos with voice-over narration you create on a PC, Mac, or–this is the neatest part–iPhone. Not bad, but it would be nice to see it add the ability to create albums, so you could do things like upload an entire vaction’s worth of narrated snapshots. (Right now, the “Fotobabbles” you create consist of one photo apiece…)

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Photoshop is Twenty

Adobe is celebrating Photoshop’s twentieth anniversary today. (The program, created by brothers John and Thomas Knoll, actually goes back to the late 1980s, but Adobe shipped its first version on February 19th,1990.) Here’s a fun video from Adobe with a 1990 clip on the whole shocking idea of digital photoretouching, and a new conversation between the men who made the app.


Picasa Gets Face Recognition, Built-in Google Maps

Picasa LogoI can never quite tell if Google considers its free Picasa image organizer/editor to be a Major Google Product–it doesn’t update it all that often, or promote it as energetically as it might. But it’s announcing Picasa 3.5 today, which should be available for Windows and OS X by the time you read this or soon thereafter. Google let me get my hands on it a bit early; Picasa fans should like it, and it gives those of us who haven’t checked out the app in a while new reason to revisit it.

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Flickr Hits the iPhone, Winningly

I’m not even sure if I was aware that there was no official Flickr app for the iPhone–it’s such a natural that you’d kinda think it would have shown up eons ago. But the app didn’t show up until now. It’s good, with all the features you’d expect (including the ability to upload both photos and videos) and a decidedly Flickr-y feel. One unexpected feature: When you launch it, you get an animated slideshow of photos from your contacts and others that’s kind of addictive. (It makes me wish that the iPhone supported screen savers–this would make for a nifty one.)

I tend to take Flickr for granted except when I need to post photos, which is probably a good thing for my schedule, since it’s so easy to lose yourself in the embarrassment of photographic riches it contains. But I’m rediscovering it all over again on the iPhone. A few screens after the jump.

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Canon’s G10: An SLR in Your Pocket

Steve Bass's TechBiteThe stars were in alignment: I needed a small digital camera to stash in my backpack while Judy and I drove 4,000 miles in Utah, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho; meanwhile, the Canon PR rep was on the horn and asking if I’d try their PowerShot G10, a pocket-size camera. I could have played hard to get (PR people love that), but I’m easy.

I took the G10 along for the three weeks Judy and I spent traveling. I took over 500 shots, and dozens of videos, and was pleased with the results. I was happy with lots of the features and I’d almost like to own the G10. (A few problems; more in a second.)

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Kodachrome No More

KodakchromeFirst they take away our Polaroid film, and now this: Kodak is discontinuing Kodachrome, the legendary film that was introduced in 1935. (Kindly insert your own Paul Simon reference here, please.) The company’s rationale is the obvious one: Pretty much everyone is shooting digital these days.

My impulse when presented with death-of-an-icon news of this sort is moral outrage, even when the product is (like Kodachrome) one I’ve never actually purchased myself. But interest in Kodachrome is so low that a photofinishing company in Kansas is apparently the last one left on the planet that processes the stuff. Photographers have indeed spoken.

With Kodachrome gone, the big bombshells to come will involve news like Kodak discontinuing film production altogether and companies such as Canon and Nikon going all-digital. And it’ll all happen. Wonder how long it’ll be until film is as utterly dead as, say, 8-track is today?

(Photo borrowed from JohnnyGunn)