Not too long ago, I filled my Camelback with some water, threw in a power bar, and packed my Palm Centro next to my Canon PowerShot SD1100 IS Digital Elph 8.0 megapixel camera. I geared up, hopped on my KTM520 dirt bike, and headed for the hills. According to the weather reports, I could expect snow in a few days. It had snowed already a few days earlier in the higher elevations, so I knew that I could encounter some patches of snow up the trail. This would likely be the last ride of the season before Old Man Winter settled in for good, and I had an idea for an article (this one, of course) and wanted to take some pictures on my way up the hill.
The trail starts easy enough and progressively gets more rocky, narrow and technically difficult. I took most of my pictures closer to the bottom where it would be easy to straddle my dirt bike and handle expensive devices like smartphones and digital cameras. I took a series of pictures, one with my Centro and then a picture of the same scene with my Canon PowerShot. As you can see, there is really no comparison between the picture quality of the Canon vs. Centro. The Canon produces a sharp, crisp, colorful photograph of professional quality ("professional" being defined as technically professional in spite of the obvious amateurish operator behind the lens). The pictures produced by the Centro are very dull and "washed-out" - as if the photo, like a favorite pair of jeans, was run through the washer 87 times until all vibrance is lost and you are left with a scene that looks used up. Perhaps it wouldn't look as bad if not sitting side-by-side with the far-superior Canon pictures.
The point of all this is fairly straight-forward: if you are hoping to take some memorable photographs of a trip or event, then DO NOT rely on your smartphone's camera, especially if you have a Centro or Treo. It's worth packing along a small digital camera that will offer far superior pictures and lead to your overall satisfaction as you capture the memories. If, on the other hand, you are not in a situation that you would normally take pictures and the need arises - capturing a photo of the information on a whiteboard at work or a chance run-in with a celebrity, for instance - then your smartphone's camera may be adequate.
Notwithstanding the skill of the photographer, you will always be limited by the equipment you are using. There is nothing you can do to improve the resolution or lens quality of your Centro or Treo, so keep that in mind when you are wanting to take pictures. As you have seen by the comparisons I've provided, there really is no comparison to a high-quality digital camera full of features like auto-focus, flash, zoom, and even image stabilization. If you have learned any smartphone camera tricks of your own that improve quality and overall satisfaction, please don't hesitate to share!
That's it for this week's tip and how-to. If you are a developer with some helpful and/or fun software or if you have a tip that you wish to pass on to the rest of the community, just email me at: [email protected]