Cell phone cameras, the good, the bad and the ugly
My last few phones have had cameras. Four years ago I got a Sony Experion cell phone because it had an 8 megapixel camera. Not too many of the other cell phones had that at the time. I hated that camera. I don’t think I got 5 good pictures with it in the two years I owned it. Two years ago I got a Samsung Galaxy SIII; I’ve been pretty happy with that phone the whole time and I’ve taken a lot of good pictures with it. My daughter has a Galaxy S4 and the camera is even better. My other daughter has an iPhone and she has always had pretty good results. So, I’ve gone from thinking that cell phone cameras are almost worthless to thinking that they are pretty useful.
I don’t think that they are a replacement for a traditional camera. Let’s face it, that little dime size lens on your cell camera just can’t compete with that big heavy zoom on your DSLR. That brings me to one of the biggest drawbacks to my camera phone – no zoom. Sure it has a digital zoom but it’s not worth much. I’ve disabled digital zoom for years on my regular cameras. All it does is digitally grab the center of your picture. So I take 99% of my cell pictures without zooming in at all. But that’s okay; my first digital camera didn’t even have a zoom lens and I shot great stuff with it.
I have installed a few camera apps on my phone as alternatives to the built in one. For the most part I haven’t seen huge advantages to any of them. Smugmug has one; I never got used to it. Each has a few features that aren’t in the standard app so you might want to check out ProCapture and CameraZoomFX. One program that you should definitely get is Panorama (http://powercam.wondershare.com/panorama.html). Simple and great results. I’ve tried the panorama features in many others and this is the one you want. Available for Android or iPhone.
Another program you’ll want is snapseed. This is a cool photo editing program that came out for the iPhone and then came out for Android. It’s also available on Windows 8 but that’s costs $19.99 – the phone apps are free. I also have Aviary for editing phone photos. Aviary is also available for Windows 8 but I’m not crazy about that version. I recently discovered, quite by accident that Samsung has a photo editor. I was looking a picture in the standard gallery and brought up the menu. I chose Edit and got the message that I don’t have photo editor installed would I like to install it. I did and it works pretty good.
Lastly I’ll tell you about my experiences with some of the programs that automatically upload your cell phone pictures to the cloud. I’ve used OneDrive, Google Drive and Amazon Cloud. Any of them can be set up to auto upload and you can specify that it won’t happen unless your phone in connected to Wi-Fi. I’d suggest you set them all up and decide which one you like best. In Windows 8 each of these just appears as another folder in Windows Explorer. It’s really nice to be able to sit down at your computer and already have your cell phone pictures there.