Question: what tech specs or forums should I look for to judge a cellphone camera?

Question: what tech specs or forums should I look for to judge a cellphone camera?

I know enough about optics to realize that megapixels is a stupid metric, but manufacturers don’t usually report lens or chip size or other details so I don’t know how to tell if a phone will be good enough without trying it out.

My LG Optimus is simply inadequate for any purpose and I’d like my next phone to be a point-and-shoot replacement. That’s probably a year from now, so I’m not looking for specific model recommendations, but instead I’d like decision-making recommendations.

(the crappy photo below is downtown Madison from Olin Park, by the way)

8 replies on “Question: what tech specs or forums should I look for to judge a cellphone camera?”

  1. Aren’t you making an impossible choice, right off the bat? “Cell phone” + “good camera” seems futile… I’d say if you want to take great photos without too much bulk, get the black Canon P&S that costs around $400 that Pogue reviewed (loved, I think!). For what I do, having the LG Optimus on hand is enough, unless can plan ahead. I don’t bother with a P&S anymore; if I care enough about the quality of the photos, I just take my D70. 🙂 P&S or cell phone cameras drive me batty with their shutter lag, let alone photo quality…

  2. T. Kim Nguyen Hopefully not impossible. My goal is an adequate camera, not a good one. Barely adequate is OK for me for when the phone is the only camera I have with me, like when bicycling. I’m not a photography buff and probably never will be.

  3. I will be doing some photo tests with my new phone over the next weekend after it arrives and we will let you know how it does. 🙂 But looking at the various photos on Flickr is a good way to see how the various phones perform.

  4. I’ve been quote happy with the iPhone 4 camera, and it supports HDR right out of the box, which has been important sometimes for mixed bright & dark environments. I took a few photos in Munich with the camera when I left my other DSLR back at the hotel and was happy enough with the results that I didn’t feel the need to go back later and re-take.

  5. In my experience with cell phone cameras the biggest problem is the low-quality photos taken in low-light conditions. Supposedly the new iPhone 4s improves this by using a back-illuminated detector and a faster lens configuration. I’m not sure what other phones have this option, but I’m sure there are a few out there. is the best website for detailed digital camera reviews, but sadly they have not yet started reviewing cell phone cameras.

  6. I remember a comment that stuck with me: “The best camera is the one you have with you.”. Cell cameras used to be really lousy, but I’m impressed with the latest offerings, and for all but the artistic stuff, the iPhone 4 (I don’t have a 4S yet) really does nicely.

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