A few weeks ago, Clinton Jeff invited me and Ali Qudsi to guest on the Unleash the Phones weekly video for the Nokia 808 PureView edition of their weekly video-cast.
It was a great conversation with some really smart folks, thanks to Clinton Jeff, Alvin, Yash, and Bharad for the invite!
Posts Tagged: camera
Photo of the bird bath, succulent flowers, and trees taken by Ms. Jen with an ADOX Golf 63 vintage film camera on the deck of Dan’s cabin in Idyllwild, CA, on Sunday August 5, 2012 using Fujifilm Velvia 100 film.
Sat 11.13.10 – Last night I helped out Alex and worked the front door at the bar for the Ill Repute / Fang show that Ron Martinez put on. I used the opportunity of my favorite low light photography challenge to see how the Nokia N8 does at taking photos inside of Alex’s, as the walls are all painted a deep red and suck the light out of photos making most photography dashedly difficult even with a flash.
With both the flash turned off and the flash turned on the Nokia N8 did a great job at capturing the scene and not either whiting out with the flash or being completely dark without the flash. Due to being at the door all night, I was not able to see how it performed in taking photos of the bands on stage.
Ms. Jen, in one sentence please tell us what you think about the Nokia N8:
Here are my first impressions as a photographer, developer, designer, and mobilista in a bit more detail:
1) The Nokia N8 is smaller than I thought or remembered. I did see a few in the wild in May and along with all the promotional photos, I thought/remembered it would be the size of an iPhone in width, but have been pleasantly surprised that it has a huge screen but is still small enough to fit in my little hands comfortably.
2) The screen is amazing and is even better than amazing in strong sunlight. Today at 11am, I sat on a bench on the edge of the San Francisco bay in front of the Ferry Building and was able to check into my flight on Virgin America with my sunglasses on! Yes, the screen, in strong sunlight with sunglasses on was very visible.
4) Symbian ^3 & all touch screen. Anyone who reads my Twitter or this blog knows that I am pretty agnostic about Symbian and not a big all/only touch screen fan, as I do like my buttons. But the Nokia N8 is the first mobile I have met that does not have me yearning heavily to the point of frustration for a keypad or a qwerty keyboard. To that end, while I would like a little more haptic feedback while typing on the virtual on screen keyboard, I am happy with the layout of the keyboard. Honestly, it would be nice to have a mashup of the best of capacitive with the best of resistive touchscreens, but the N8’s capacitive touch screen is working for me.
I know that lots of folk have called for Nokia to send Symbian to the dustbin of mobile history, I do think the Symbian and Nokia folks have done a very good to great job of iterating the Symbian S60 5th edition that was on the Nokia N97 into a very usable and yet still familiar Symbian ^3. I have only had a few struggles to find where a function would be and for the most part everything is just so much easier on the N8’s OS than on the N97.
5) My only real complaint is that I wish all messaging and all music functions were under one app/folder for each major idea. I would like my email and sms to be in the same folder/silo, as previous editions of Symbian, and not separated out into two different silos. Messaging is messaging, what technology and how long the message is should not matter to the user when tapping an icon. Once I have tapped the icon and am in the app, then I can choose if I want texting or one of my email accounts.
The same goes with Music. I would like one icon for the home screen that then opens a folder/silo where I can find the music player and radio, rather than a bunch of different icons and activities.
6) The hardware build is lovely. The aluminum body feels smooth and organic rather than cold & metal. I love the big screen. I would further love to flip up (twack!) the screen and reveal a physical qwerty keyboard, but I am told I will have to wait for that. And I am darned glad for the gorilla glass front, as my neighbor now has a shattered iPhone 4 front screen due to a gravity storm. Say what you would like about Nokia, but they do make great mobile hardware.
7) Last but not least, the camera is fantastic. Not good. Not decent. Not even great, but fantastic. If you see ‘bad’ N8 photos, blame the person pushing the shutter button not the N8.
Please look at the unretouched, though resized with the on board editor, sunset photo in the post before this. I purposely set the camera to the highest setting of 12 megapixels and have been just astounded at what a point & shoot camera phone delivers in terms of color, clarity, and color accuracy. The era of crappy camera phone photos is now over.
I would like to publicly thank Damian Dinning and the whole Nseries team, as well as the camera team, for making a truly revolutionary camera phone. Damian and the team’s quest for excellence is highly evident. As a photographer who wants my camera with me wherever I go, I am very, very pleased.
In closing, I am not just excited for the camera, but also to develop apps for the N8. I have ideas, now I just need some time and there is that small matter to learning how to use PySide, the python bindings for QT. Thank you to Nokia for the lovely Developer Day and the Nokia N8 for the developers.
Recently I found myself thinking about camera phone apps, more specifically about Hipstamatic and do folks really use it past the week they bought it out of the App Store?
Amongst the photographers and designers I know and follow on Flickr, I will occasionally see a photo that looks like it was Hipstamatic-d but not often, which makes me to wonder if it is due to the fact that Hipstamatic does not make a back up of the original photo before it is processed or if folks just aren’t interested in Lomo like mobile camera phone photos.
My curiosity continued to wander and I started to wonder really how many camera phone apps people were using past the first week of buying them. Furthermore, what iPhone and Android camera phone apps were people buying and using with any regularity. Do folks like the ‘toy camera’ apps or were they using camera apps with other functionality?
The Camera phone app world has quite exploded on the iPhone and Android is catching up, but when I searched the Ovi Store there were very few camera phone apps for Symbian devices and those that were there were more geared to an East Asian J-Pop photo booth cute overload on neon aesthetic than the Graham Parson-esque Silver Like circa 1972 via a yellow daisy filled green meadow in misty sunlight aesthetic of Hipstamatic.
There was one Symbian app, Joyeye, that promised Lomo style photos, but it did not work on my Nokia N86 and I did not try to download a version for the N97. It may be that it is only for touchscreen Symbian devices or it may be that the Ovi Store seems dead set on thinking my N86 is an N97.
Two weeks ago to satisfy my curiosity, I conducted a very small survey on Twitter by asking:
msjen: iPhone folk, what is your favorite camera or photo app & why?
Photo taken by Ms. Jen with her Nokia N86.
Mon 08.16.10 – Or why I love my Nokia N86 camera phone, the camera really is extraordinary. Hello, little bee.
To follow up on last week’s post, 2,045 Days with a Camera Phone, I would like to write a bit more on why I have loved camera phone photography and mobile blogging so much in the last 5.5 years and that can be summed up in one word: constraints.
The old adage in design, photography, and many other arts is that it is not unlimited creative freedom that sparks the best in a designer or artist, but it is limits and constraints that the artist or designer has to push at, be challenged by, and get around that create great art and design or at least cause the artist in question to grow in their craft.
It has been very easy the last 8-10 years to hone one’s craft with a DSLR camera almost to the point where too many photographers get obsessed with megapixels, lenses, and processing in Photoshop than the actual act of taking the photo becomes secondary or farther down the line.
By choosing to shoot more than 90% of my photos of the last half decade with a small camera phone and then choosing to send them directly from the phone to the internet with no stops at Photoshop, means that I purposefully chose to constrain myself to a small camera that in many cases had less megapixels and less of a lens & digital sensor system than the contemporary point & shoots, not even considering what the comparable time period of DSLRs could do.
But the magic of setting the self-imposed discipline of the constraints of a camera phone plus no or very little post-phone processing seriously, meant that I had to really hone my eye, my composition, my observation of the scene, and then just shoot and shoot and shoot. I have shot a lot of bad photos in the last 5+ years, but I have also shot a lot of good to wonderful photos with my camera phones.
And it is the discipline of the constraints of a camera phone that make the great photos all the more sweeter than when I shoot a good photo with a Nikon film SLR or DSLR.
All of that being said, I have some to quite a bit of trepidation about the next generation of camera phones, particularly the Nokia N8, as it really is better than the point & shoots out on the market right now. The photos from its big 12 megapixel digital sensor & Zeiss lens are extraordinarily good.
After 5.5 years of pushing, working around, thinking, changing the angle, doing whatever I could to capture the vision in my head with a camera phone, to have a camera phone that will be not just good enough, but great… …that is why I said in the last article that I started to think seriously about film rangefinders or purchasing a high end Nikon. My thoughts were – if the Nokia N8 is so spectacular then I won’t have much in the way of constraints, then whole rubric for why I have shot with camera phones since 2004 will be over.
Yes, as I said in 2,045 Days with a Camera Phone, the Nokia N8 is the arrival of the maturity of camera phones as a photographing instrument and the pioneering era is mostly over, particularly if one was shooting with camera phones from the perspective of constraints or enjoying the toy quality of some camera phone’s imagery.
But I am not going to run away. Why? Because I trust Damian. I trust Mr. Dinning’s vision that he has had the last 6 years to push the technology of camera phones to meet that of the highest quality levels. He and I had several interesting conversations over meals at the big adventure in May that gave me an insight to his desire to make the Nokia Nseries line of cameras cross from good to great. Damian and his team have not failed me in the Nokia N86 or any other Nseries camera phones that I have taken photos with since 2004.
So, I will let go of my imposed constraints and walk into a new era and see how good camera phones can really get for the photographer who wants a camera on one at all times, with the N8 I will just have to find a few new challenges to set for myself.
Here’s to the future.
On Dec. 9, 2004, I drove to Beverly Hills to pick up my first camera phone, a Nokia 7610 with a 1 megapixel camera. I was ecstatic.
In 2003, I first heard of mobile phone / camera phone photography and mobile blogging from Adam Greenfield & Mie Kennedy’s blogs, as well as Joi Ito mentioning it at SXSW. I really really really wanted to start taking photos with my phone and upload the photos directly from my phone to the internet.
The last 2,045 days of mobile phone photography have been wonderful. I don’t use the word wonderful lightly here. By wonderful, I mean a whole new world of wonder. A world of exploration, of pushing the boundaries of and of purposefully constricting the boundaries of photography.
In 2003-2004, most of my photographer friends were moving from their film SLRs to DSLRs and thought I was crazy for showing up at concerts and shows with a crazy little camera phone rather than my Nikon or my Sony Mavica digital camera. But as they watched me upload the photos directly from the phone to Flickr or Barflies.net or to this blog while I was still at the show, then their sense of wonder was activated.
In the nearly six years of taking photos and mobile blogging with a Nokia camera phone much has changed. In 2004, my Nokia 7610 was only 1 megapixel, but it was connected to the internet. I had a browser, email, and most importantly, I had Lifeblog – all the better to mobile blog with.
Today, I have a Nokia N86 8 megapixel camera phone which takes fantastic photos. It has a browser, email, GPS, and many more features, but unfortunately no Lifeblog so mobile blogging is more than a wee bit more difficult than it was 2004-2008. But I love the photos that the N86 takes, so I won’t complain about the lack of direct phone to blog with no stops at 3rd party server mobile apps.
Having a camera on my phone in my hand, in my pocket, or in my purse has opened up many creative doors and worlds in my life the last 6 years – I wrote my masters degree thesis on how creative people use their mobile phones, I did a whole mobile geo-photo master’s project by photo & video’ing while traveling around Ireland with a Nokia N80 and my brother’s Garmin GPS (sorry, no GPS in phones in 2006). I have gotten to travel to India, Austria, Helsinki, and San Francisco as well as many other places in the name of mobile phone photography.
Lately, as I think about the upcoming Nokia N8, a 12 megapixel, HD video monster of a camera phone, I have been reflecting about how the camera phone has arrived. With the Nokia 5, 8 & 12 megapixel camera phones, the Samsungs & Sonys, and the just released iPhone 4, camera phones are now good enough that one does not need to carry a separate point & shoot and in many cases they can be better in crowds or public places than a bulky DSLR. And the camera phone in hand is always better than the DSLR that you left locked up at home or in the car.
The last few months, part of me has wondered if it is time to creatively move on, to purchase a high end Nikon DSLR, like the D700, with a few prime lenses or start exploring medium & large format film photography with a used Mamiya or pick up a rangefinder camera and explore that world.
As I researched other photography avenues, I kept asking myself if it is time to say goodbye to the now past frontiers of the camera phone photography world and move on? Is it time to say goodbye to the frustrations of sub-standard mobile blogging software and the further frustrations of trying to convince various industry folks that good software matters? Is it time to move away entirely and take back up with my paint brush, of which no software is necessary?
Then I met a Nokia N8 in the wild. What a beauty. I can’t say more due to an NDA and complete respect for the owner of said device… but… Oh my, what a camera. Color, clarity, oh my.
Rather than get sappy at this point or descend into a drooling heap of gadget lust, I will refer y’all to the man behind the N8’s camera, the man with 215 more days in camera phone world than I and more days in the Nikon world – Mr. Damian Dinning – who has penned a very thoughtful and thorough series of articles on camera phones, photography and the upcoming Nokia N8 for the Nokia Conversations blog:
Nokia N8 Camera – 2,260 days in the making Part 1/2
Nokia N8 Camera – 2,260 days in the making Part 2/2
Nokia N8 photography – all the FAQs
And yes, come release date in a couple of months, I will be purchasing a Nokia N8 and then tracking down a QT developer to help me flesh out the code of my mobile app idea. Here’s to 2,045 more days of camera phone photography. ;o)
Follow up Post: Camera Phone Photography: Celebrating Constraints