Tag Archives: Camera

Do You Need a Digital Camera Any More?

Apple and other mobile phone companies have been pushing how good the cameras in their phones have become for a while now, and certainly because most people have their phone with them a lot more often than they have a camera, people are taking many more pictures on mobile phones. However have the cameras on phones now got so good that you really don’t need a separate camera?

Certainly they’re not as good as a digital SLR, but could they replace a digital compact camera?

Until now, despite having had a mobile phone capable of taking pictures if I’ve been going on holiday I’ve always taken a separate camera. Over the years the pictures from the phones have been getting steadily better, but they were still noticeably better from the camera than the phone. However that has changed with my most recent upgrade to an iPhone 6 Plus where I have been regularly impressed by the quality of the pictures even in situations where previous phone cameras have struggled. So this year, as an experiment when we went on holiday I left my digital camera, currently a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10, at home. You can take a look at the album of pictures we took on Flickr by clicking on the image below. The album contains pictures from two phones, my iPhone 6 Plus, and also pictures from the iPhone 6 used by my wife.

Devon Holiday 2015

Certainly they are a pretty good set of pictures, including some that my regular camera just wouldn’t be able to produce such as the panoramic shots. However there are some shots that the Panasonic would have made a better job of – anything that is zoomed for example as the Panasonic has an optical zoom whereas the phones are zooming digitally. A good example is this picture of a train arriving that used the digital zoom on the iPhone 6.

There are also some practical issues, a big one being battery life. A digital camera can quite happily run on a single set of batteries for significantly longer than a multi-purpose device like a phone, indeed on the holiday there was one occasion where the iPhone 6 couldn’t be used because the battery was getting too low. Getting an emergency charge battery like this Anker unit can help if you get caught short on battery, but it would still be better not to have to worry. One big practical issue is that it is one less device to have to carry – more and more the smartphone is becoming a single multi-purpose device replacing still camera, video camera, sat-nav, handheld games console, and even the holiday paperback.

Ultimately though as phone cameras continue to improve, the market for the digital compact camera is going to continue to diminish, especially as the other advantages of photography on a phone such as being able to easily edit and share those pictures straight from the device are taken into account. With services such as Google Photos, Flickr or Apple iCloud Photo Library allowing you to synchronise and share edits, the days of taking pictures on a separate camera and importing them to a computer via USB cable or a card reader will increasingly be in the past

Tweeting in the Pews

Before I even get to talking about the sessions, one interesting point to discuss about the Christian New Media conference is that they actively encouraged people to tweet about the sessions and the conference.

This seemed pretty successful such that people unable to attend the conference could keep up with what was going on. Indeed given that they were using Twitterfall to show the traffic this produced a couple of amusing moments such as the point they switched the feed to the big screen just as Mum tweeted that she was going back to doing the ironing tagged with #CNNAC11!

However the encouragement to tweet was backed up with some grumbling from people about it being frowned upon tweeting in church – the implication being that it was fuddy-duddy type attitudes to object. But is it?

It’s useful to just revisit some of the reasons churches object to tech – the most common restrictions being please turn off your phone and please don’t take pictures during the service. Both have come about from experience, for example I can think of a number of occasions where times of silence and prayer have been interrupted by a mobile phone (on at least one occasion owned by the priest) and certainly several weddings that have ended up like paparazzi photo sessions with all the flash photography. From there we got to asking people to silence their phones and not use flash, but it was pretty quickly realised that many people struggle to understand their gadgets such that they don’t know how to silence them or disable the automatic flash. As a result it’s now all phones off and no photography at all.

I’d suggest that most techies can manage to enable silent mode and disable the flash – however given that we can do that should we then be live tweeting the sermon?

To be honest I’d say no. Part of the point of a service is to provide a separate space, away from the world outside to focus on the spiritual. Certainly you may consider outside through the sermon, or the prayers, but ultimately most people there are focusing on God. As was highlighted by some of the speakers the idea of a sabbath time away from work applies just as much as a time away from the noise of the online world.

As people who experience Taizé for the first time discover, silence is a very powerful way to focus, and it is something that is little used in many services, let alone in the Christian world online.

Is a Camera Phone All You Need?

I had an interesting chat with Howard today, about whether people really needed more than a good camera phone. It came about partly as a result of the pictures he took when he went to a Faithless gig this week, all of which were taken on his mobile phone. Certainly a look back over my recent blog postings will show what a fan I am of my current camera phone .

Anyway, the other element in the discussion was that I was trying to decide whether it was worth taking a ‘proper’ camera to the Geek Dinner next week, or whether to just stick with the mobile phone.

Wild Goose Island and Saint Mary Lake

Looking at the options, our ‘proper’ camera has produced some stunning pictures such as the image of the Saint Mary Lake from the summer.

However, we’ve also had some great shots from the camera phone, with it being the source of our set of pictures from the last Geek Dinner, or the cold snap shots I took recently near the Church.

It’s also worth noting that both cameras can produce their fair share of duff shots, especially in poor lighting conditions, and both have their hiccups – the ‘proper’ camera having so many modes that it is sometimes a pain working out which to use in which situation, and the cameraphone being the interminable wait between shutter press and the picture being taken.

Lifting Fog

There is also the issue of the dinner being in central London, and pretty busy with people, so having one more thing to keep track of might make life more difficult.

This seems to be pointing me towards relying on the camera phone. But of course that then leads to the question over whether, if I am starting to use the phone for situations where I know I will be taking pictures, rather than just odd snapshots, is it possible to do away with a ‘proper’ camera altogether?

And the Annoying Design Award Goes To…

After the frustration with trying to find a replacement battery for our old digital camera, and discovering that Sony no longer made the relevant battery, I thought I’d get ahead of the game, and buy some suitable extra batteries for our new camera in advance.

Looking through Amazon I found the Fujifilm NH-10 Rechargeable Battery for FinePix A310 & E Series, which was also listed on the FujiFilm site as a replacement battery for the camera.

Fuji NH-10 Battery

It turned up today, and whilst the site is absolutely right, it is compatible with the camera, it just isn’t compatible with the charger that came with the camera. The only way to charge it is to pay out another £42 for a special docking cradle that will allow the camera to charge the battery. You can’t even charge it in the camera using the normal AC power supply – only the docking cradle will do.

What is even more annoying is that the supplied charger is actually perfectly capable of charging the two cells that make up the NH-10, it’s just that some bright spark has decided to supply the two batteries in a double casing that binds the two separate AA cells together, and since the charger requires the cells in one arrangement and the camera in another it’s not possible to charge the cells in the camera’s charger.

Some crazy design idea, or cynical marketing ploy? I wonder!