Can the iPhone 3G S change how cameras are made?

The recently announced iPhone 3G S finally assessed the issues that the phone’s previous cameras–that they were very limited in capability. However, Apple isn’t even a photography company but they have pushed a feature that may change how compacts are made and the way they take images: tap-to-focus.

A search on Flickr can show users many different videos and photos taken with the new iPhone 3G S. After looking through the pages, a user can see just how capable that little sensor is. Because a user can tap an area to focus on it precisely, users have the ability to have a shallower depth of field that mimics the images one sees come out of a DSLR. Additionally, add in the fact that most people find that using their cameraphone to be, “good enough” for everyday usage and you have yourself a compact camera changer. This is all fine for most people despite the fact that the iPhone 3G S doesn’t have a flash or optical zoom (although external lenses can be had.)

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For example, any smartphone (meaning even a Blackberry, G1, or Palm Pre) can shoot a picture and then immediately text it, email it, or upload it to Facebook, Flickr, Twitter etc. They do all this through use of a 2G, 3G or WiFi network. How many compact cameras have those capabilities? Not very many, instead they sync up with your printer so that you can print your shots; but people print less and less these days. And one that can do all those tasks isn’t guaranteed to have such amazing battery life. Additionally, memory cards fill up because of the fact that camera manufacturers keep pushing more and more megapixels onto those tiny sensors. With a cameraphone being about 3MP, one can store lots of photos on their 2GB MicroSD cards and still use that beautiful 3 inch LCD screen on their phone to show off all those pictures to friends, family, etc.

These cameras are actually even changing the way that we receive our news. When an airplane crashed into the Hudson River where I live in New York City the first and most iconic images of the event were taken with an iPhone and sent to Twitter.

As a guy that recently graduated from journalism school, I can tell you firsthand that many programs are teaching their students to make better use out of their smartphones–the reasons listed above are part of it all. If a DSLR had all the connectivity capabilities that a smartphone has then not only would the system be super expensive but it could mean that pros (like us) could be out in the field all day and night working non-stop to get those shots that we need to please our clients. Let alone if mobile versions of WordPress, Moveable Type, or Blogger were available then the capabilities of pros vs. everyday cameraphone users would be more balanced.

With all this in mind, perhaps if the iPhone OSx or Android were modified to run on a DSLR then the capabilities would be greatly increased.

Apple iPod Camera Coming?

Rumors abound (see Gizmodo, CrunchGear) of the next-gen iPod, which these renderings from iLounge.com suppose will include a digital camera.  The renderings suggest a design very similar to the current form factor of the 4th gen iPod Nano; however, the screen ratio is a 1.5:1 instead of the current 1.33:1 ratio.  This ratio would mesh perfectly with traditional 3:2 aspect ratio (as we photographers call it) found in most digital cameras today, leading to an appropriate format for 4×6 prints.

Whether it’s the real deal or not, we should know soon enough; however, iLounge makes it a point to note that their source “has a perfect track record for accuracy.”  If Apple is getting back into digital cameras, look out.

Apple already has a huge and powerful image editing platform in iPhoto and Aperture.  Apple has a gift for making products work intuitively and integrating multiple products into one design, which we’ve seen over the past couple years with the iPhone.

Stay tuned for the latest.  This could get interesting.

iPhoto 2009

Today, at Macworld, Apple announced iPhoto 2009, which offers a number of additional features to the popular Apple photo management and processing software.  iPhoto 2009 is a part of the larger iLife 2009 software collection that includes programs like Garageband and iMovie.

iPhoto 2009 offers some innovative organization options, like organizing photos by faces.  According to Apple, you select a few images with a given person and tag that person in the image.  iPhoto then culls through your image library and suggests additional photos with that person in them.  I find this feature to be quite compelling for those of you who have multiple kids that you are trying to keep track of.

I have a couple of kids myself, whose photos I place in a “Kid A” and “Kid B” folder.  As you can imagine, there is plenty of overlap among the numerous photos and invariably the image of Kid A that I’m looking for is in the Kid B folder because Kid B is also in the photo.  If this feature works as advertised, you Mac moms and dads out there are going to enjoy it.

There are a number of other features in iPhoto 2009 like GPS organization, themed slideshows, integrated online sharing through Facebook and Flickr, and enhancements to the editing tool.  To get the full scoop on iPhoto 2009, visit www.apple.com/ilife/iphoto/.

Apple Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4

Apple has released its Digital Camera Raw Compatibility Update 2.4, which adds RAW support to Aperture 2 and iPhoto ’08 for the following cameras:

  • Canon EOS 5D Mark II
  • Canon PowerShot G10
  • Pentax K2000/K-m
  • Leaf AFi-II 6
  • Leaf AFi-II 7
  • Leaf Aptus-II 6
  • Leaf Aptus-II 7
  • Leica M8.2

The update also addresses issues related to specific cameras and overall stability.

Go to the Apple Download Page.

Apple Aperture 2.1.2 Now Available

Apple has updated Aperture 2 with latest version 2.1.2, which is availble for download here. The Aperture 2.1.2 update improves the printing quality of books, cards and calendars ordered through the Aperture printing service. The update is recommended for all customers using Aperture 2.

If you’re unable to upgrade to Aperture 2, updates for earlier versions of Aperture are also available on this page. (login required)

Snapture Improves iPhone Photography

iPhone application Snapture may be limited to jailbroken iPhones, but if you’re willing to go to that effort, it can make some major improvements to your iPhone’s photographic abilities.

Features such geotagging and a delay timer give an iPhone the functions necessary to at lease match a point-and-shoot camera. But Snapture goes so far as to provide photographers with a little basic editing capability on the go. While few professional photographers are going to change over to the iPhone as a main camera, Snapture does extend its abilities enough to make it a useful tool for an amateur photographer.