Cell phone photography is a huge trend these days with Instagram skyrocketing past 10 million users this past weekend, but have you ever wondered how it all started? An entrepreneur named Philippe Kahn is credited with creating the camera phone back in 1997. On June 11th of that year, Kahn took the first “camera phone” photo of his newborn daughter in a maternity ward, and then wirelessly transmitted the photo to more than 2,000 people around the world. Since “camera phones” didn’t exist at that time, Kahn actually hacked together a primitive one by combining a digital camera and a cell phone to send the photos in real time.
Kahn then went on to start LightSurf, a company that was hugely influential in picture messaging. LightSurf technology is still used by Sprint, Verizon, and other major carriers around the world.
Cell phone cameras have pretty poor image quality when compared with point-and-shoot cameras due to their small sensors, but one advantage they have over compact cameras is a naturally deep depth of field. That was particularly useful for this YouTube user in capturing some sharp video of his new motorcycle — something that would have been much more difficult using a standard point-and-shoot.
What you see here may be the first leaked photograph shot with the upcoming iPhone 5. The EXIF data claims it was shot with the iPhone 4, but other EXIF details indicate otherwise. Although the leaked image was cropped, the original size of the image was 3264×2448 (roughly 8MP), the rumored resolution found on the next iPhone. The lens info was recorded as “4.3mm f/2.4″, more similar to a point-and-shoot than then 3.85mm f/2.8 lens found on the iPhone 4. Finally, the geotag info in the photo shows it was taken at 37.33216667,-122.03033333 — the location of Apple’s headquarters. Check out the full-res file with EXIF intact here. Read more…
With its photography-related businesses struggling and no end in sight to its stock’s free fall, Kodak is turning to patent infringement lawsuits as a way to generate revenue. The company is currently in a patent dispute with Apple (iPhone) and RIM (Blackberry) over a patent it holds for previewing image on camera phones, and hopes to generate over $1 billion in royalty revenues if it comes out victorious. Previously Kodak had used this same patent to win nearly $1 billion from Samsung and LG.
Of the $7.2 billion in revenues Kodak generated in 2010, $838 million was from patent royalties. Somehow this doesn’t seem like a sustainable strategy for the company to stop being “Apple in reverse”.
Cell phones are playing a bigger and bigger role in citizen journalism — just look at the imagery coming out of the Middle East protests — and universities are beginning to offer entire courses on using them for photography. A new class at Immaculata University is designed to teach both the ethical and technical aspects of cell phone photography. Communications professor Sean Flannery leads the students in issues including voyeurism, ethics, citizen journalism and the difference between public and private spaces, and professional photographer Hunter Martin teaches things like composition, lighting, and editing.
Images created by the current crop of students will be on display next month in a campus art show.
With the limited lens and sensor sizes of cell phone cameras, the megapixel race isn’t really doing much to improve the quality of the resulting photos. A new startup called Pelican Imaging thinks it can revolutionize the game by increasing quality without focusing on megapixels. Instead, they use an array of 25 micro-cameras to capture each image, processing the data into a single photograph with fancy software. If all goes well, future cell phones will be taking much nicer photos while still staying thin and compact.
XShot, the company known for its handheld camera extender, has released a new iPhone 4 case designed to provide a tripod mount through a detachable adapter. A lot of iPhone owners seem to be interested in adding a tripod mount to their phone — a recent Kickstarter effort to create such a mount raised over $130K after asking for only $10K. The XShot iPhone case is different from other tripod mounts in that the mount is part of a detachable adapter that can be attached to either the side or the bottom of the iPhone.
If you thought the Panasonic Lumix phone looked like a camera, check out the new LG L-03C. The 12-megapixel camera has a 3x zoom lens by Pentax, a Xenon flash, a 3-inch LCD, ISO that goes up to 3200, Wi-Fi/Bluetooth/3G capabilities, and 720p video recording. Oh, and did we mention it makes calls?
A lot of people are going to be confused in the future when they see people holding compact cameras up to their ears. The L-03C will be available in Japan sometime in January.
Earlier this month we reported that there was a star-studded short film being shot entirely with the Nokia N8 phone. It was just released, and gives a pretty interesting look at what mobile phone cameras are capable of now.
The groundbreaking film, directed by the McHenry Brothers, was shot in just four days with the Nokia N8 using no back up cameras, with the streets of London and St Albans providing the backdrop to Nokia’s story about one commuter’s eventful journey to work.
Watch it in HD mode if your Internet connection can handle it.