Camera phones have become so much more than the original phone with a handy, low-end camera attached. The leaps in camera phone technology mean that with a good camera phone you can completely forget about carrying both a digital camera and a mobile phone, and rely on one small sophisticated electronic gadget to do both jobs.
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How good are the cameras on camera phones?
The growth of social networking websites, picture messaging, photo blogs and the instant sharing functions available on many of the latest camera phones have contributed to a huge demand for high quality digital cameras on mobile phones.
We want our media on demand and when it comes to pictures we are no different. With a great camera phone, we can make sure our friends and family are kept up to date with what's going on in our lives anywhere in the world. And ensure we capture great memories in the style they deserve.
The latest generation of camera phones allow us to take high resolution images and upload them directly to social networking sites, photo sharing communities and our friends' and families' desktops at the touch of a button.
High-end camera phones have become more affordable too. Nowadays you can pick up an excellent camera phone that's almost comparable to an SLR for free with a range of mobile contracts.
What do modern camera phones offer?
Even the cheapest phone now features a bog-standard VGA camera. So what sets the best ones apart? Here's a list of the features to look for:
- HD video recording
- Image stabilisation for superior video
- Software that lets you merge images together to get the perfect photo
- A selection of stunning visual effects
- The option to add sound to static images and create photographic storybooks
- One-touch sharing to social networking sites
- HD screens to view your photos and videos on
- Burst mode
- LED flash for good performance in low light conditions
- Front-facing camera for video calls and self-portraits
Which are the best cameraphones?
To a certain extent, this is a matter of opinion. But among the very best camera phones are those in Nokia's PureView range. These offer lenses with up 41 megapixels for incredible results and include the full gamut of photo-editing features.
Samsung's flagship Galaxy phones also take great pictures. And they come with impressive features too, such as the option to record a soundtrack for still images to really bring them to life. Blurring the lines between a camera and a phone, the Galaxy Zoom even features a telescopic zoom lens and space for a tripod stand.
HTC's One UltraPixel camera meanwhile uses advanced imaging technology and a game-changing sensor to capture more light than many of its competitors.
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Camera phone features do vary considerably, so it is important to know what you're looking for. Almost every manufacturer now offers a variety of high quality camera phones, with some featuring screens that surpass even high-end digital cameras.
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Why should I choose a camera phone?
A good camera phone really does mean that you can forget about the hassle of carrying around a digital camera. That's because unlike most digital cameras, it gives you instant connectivity and the ability to share your images with anyone around the world in a matter of seconds.
If you want to share those important moments, such as a new addition to the family, or a wedding, or even make your friends jealous with your holiday snaps while they're sitting at their desks, a camera phone will let you do just that!
For tourists and people on the move, camera phones have been something of a revolution. They are the ultimate in affordable, portable and convenient photography.
If you always have your phone with you, it means that you are far more likely to be able to snap that once-in-a-lifetime moment, particularly as you are unlikely to carry your digital camera around with you all the time.
If you'd like to find out more about using your phone instead of your digital camera, you can learn how to take pictures with your mobile phone using our handy guide.
Camera phones have changed the way our media works, too, and have even given many would-be-photo-journalists their five minutes of fame. Whether it's a sporting event, a celebrity spot or even an emergency situation, camera phones used by members of the public have turned out to be an invaluable way of capturing the happenstances of everyday life.
Camera phone history
The invention of the camera phone is generally attributed to Phillippe Kahn, who is reported to have sent the world's first ever picture message. Kahn sent an image of his newborn daughter to his friends and family from a hosptial California in 1997.
However, it is probably more correct to say that Kahn sent the first picture message as we know them today. This is because the camera phone is, like so many of our favourite technologies and gadgets, a convergence of many projects and developments. If you were to look into patents relevant to the development of the camera phone, you would find a list dating back as far as the 1960's.
The first major technological steps towards a camera phone as we know it, were made by Dr Eric Fossum and his team in the the early 1990's. They created something called the CMOS active pixel image sensor, which is the basis for the technology used in camera phones sold today. This so called 'camera-on-a-chip' technology made it to a Business Week news article in 1995 and is considered by many in the camera phone industry to be the birth of the modern camera phone.
The first ever wireless picturephone was developed in 1993 by an inventor called Daniel A Henderson, his camera phone was called the 'Intellect' and could receive picture and video data sent from a message origninator, even though there was not yet a good enough communication infrastructure to make this commercially viable.
The first commercially available camera phone on the market was the J-SH04 from Sharp. This was the camera phone that finally had an infrastructure behind it to help really get mobile pictures and picture messaging off the ground.
For more information on the history of phones check out the history of mobile phones. Our quick guide should tell you everything you need to know!
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