One major trend in the camera industry this year is the introduction of mobile operating systems such as Android into digital cameras. By opening the door to things like Wi-Fi, data plans, and apps, camera makers are going in the same direction that phone makers went some years ago, turning their devices into what can best be described as portable computers with specialized functions (e.g. voice-calling, photography).
While covering the trend, we’ve been at a loss for what to call the new cameras. After calling the Samsung Galaxy Camera a “voiceless phonecamera” in our hands-on first-look yesterday, commenters suggested that we call the device a “smartcamera”. Bingo… that’s the term we were looking for. Read more…
Back in January, Polaroid unveiled its SC1630 Smart Camera that’s powered with Google’s Android operating system. Now, more manufacturers may be gearing up to have the popular smartphone OS built into their cameras: Samsung and Panasonic are both reportedly exploring this idea. Regarding what this means for consumers, Engadget writes,
It could be a major breakthrough from a usability standpoint, opening up the in-camera ecosystem to third-party developers. We could see Twitter and Facebook apps that let you not only publish your photos directly with a familiar interface, but also see photos shared by your friends. A capacitive touchscreen would let you type in comments directly as well. You could publish to web-based services, utilize apps that enable post-capture creativity or receive firmware updates directly over WiFi. That hotshoe or USB port could accommodate a variety of different accessories, like a microphone or 4G modem that could be used with several models, including those from other manufacturers.
One potential downside to having an Android-powered camera may be stability — imagine having to regularly reboot your frozen camera.
The Microsoft team tasked with building Windows 8 has published a blog post with various user suggestions they’ve decided to implement in the OS. A big thing they’re focusing on is file management — something that isn’t usually touted as a “feature” but is important in day-to-day computer usage. One useful improvement is having the OS read the EXIF data in JPEG photos to automatically present the correct orientation. Read more…
Fox News is reporting that HP is in talks with potential buyers of its webOS mobile operating system, which it obtained back in April 2010 after acquiring Palm for $1.2 billion. One of the potential buyers is surprising though:
Sources on the WebOS team say that HP is actively meeting with a number of interested buyers including HTC, LG, Nikon, and Amazon.
Just think: [...] a WebOS-powered camera from Nikon? That would be a Halloween treat indeed.
Nikon? Really? Why would they be looking at buying a mobile operating system? Perhaps they’re seeing that cameras are starting to feel more like computers and want to take advantage of the shift — the iPhone’s camera is certainly one that’s backed by a powerful operating system.
The latest version of Android, called “Ice Cream Sandwich”, was unveiled by Google and Samsung in Hong Kong this morning, and they’ve focused a great deal on improving the gallery and camera aspects of the mobile OS. There is indeed built-in photo editing now, allowing users to do everything from crop and rotate to adjust levels and remove red eyes. There are also a number of Instagram-style filters that can be applied to photos. Adjustments are non-destructive and stored in a file separate from the photo being edited.
The camera has also been upgraded with zero shutter lag, touch-to-focus with exposure lock, panorama stitching, 1080p recording, and time-lapse video mode. The UI has been improved with a digital zoom slider, and many of the editing options (including red eye removal) can be used in “live view”. The war between smartphones goes on, and photography continues to be one of the main battlegrounds.
Great news for PC users: Microsoft has finally released a free codec pack for Windows Vista and Windows 7 that allows you to view and work with the RAW files of more than 120 different cameras directly in Windows Explorer. Simply download and install the codec pack to get started.
Verizon and HTC have recently unveiled the HTC Incredible phone, which runs on the Android 2.1 OS, and carries some pretty impressive camera functions.
Most notably, the Incredible has a whopping 8-megapixel camera, putting it a few megapixels shy of the average point-and-shoot on the current market.
Verizon announced in a press release that the phone provides “quick and easy access to Flickr for sharing and viewing pictures.”
The phone also has what looks like a fairly prominent, large lens (by camera phone standards), alongside two LED flashes. Additionally, the camera mode includes the ability to touch the screen in order select an autofocus point, along with impressive manual options to adjust brightness, contrast, saturation, and ISO from 100-1250.
Though it’s unlikely to edge out the point-and-shoot just yet, the Incredible certainly seems to be designed with the photo enthusiast in mind.
The HTC Incredible is available April 29th and will cost $199.
This past week we ran a poll asking our readers what operating system they mainly use. Here are the results:
481 votes were for a Windows OS compared to 606 for a Mac OS. This means roughly 49% of our readers who decided to vote use Macs, while 39% use some form of Windows.
Assuming that most people who took the time to vote in our poll are fairly serious about photography (we’re a photography blog, after all), we can say this poll is a glimpse at operating system choices among photographers.
Now lets take a look at what Google Analytics tell us about the OS breakdown of our visitors:
This takes into account all of our visitors, regardless of whether or not they vote. Since this includes loyal readers as well as people who simply pass by, the average interest in photography is probably much less than those who chose to vote. Windows leads 66% to Mac’s 29%.
Thus, Mac jumps from having a 5.9% market share in the general population to 49% among photographers. If we were a blog read only by professional photographers, I’d expect the percentage to be even higher.