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Is your cameraphone an oxymoron?

iPhone 3G v iPhone 3GS v Palm Pre

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Starting with the oldest smartphone, here's a gourmet selection of images from my lunchtime shoot in the Garden:

iPhone 3G running 2.2.1 - overall quality

The San Francisco Marriott as seen by an iPhone 3G running iPhone Software 2.2.1
Click for a full-resolution image

"Soft" would be a kind way of describing the quality of this image. "Blurry" might be more accurate - especially at the top of the building referred to here in the cool, grey city of love as the "Jukebox Marriott."

iPhone 3G running 3.0 - overall quality

The same hotel and the same iPhone 3G, but with updated software 3.0
Click for a full-resolution image

It's the same camera - trust me - but the 3.0 software update has definitely improved the quality of its imaging. Check out the top of the jukebox to see what I mean. Low-light performance has also improved in 3.0, by the way.

Palm Pre - overall quality

This was my most color-accurate Palm Pre shot, and still the sky's a bit purple
Click for a full-resolution image

Images made by the Palm Pre in well-lit situations are quite crisp, but colors are inconsistent. More on this on-again-off-again problem later.

iPhone 3GS - overall quality

The iPhone 3GS's Marriott is not quite as sharp as the Pre's, but its colors are truer
Click for a full-resolution image

The iPhone 3GS's camera is a great leap over the one in the iPhone 3G - although that's not saying a hell of a lot. I'll have more to say about its exposure and focus controls later on in this article.

Nikon D70 -overall quality

A surreal hotel photographed by a real camera: a Nikon D70
Click for a full-resolution image

Five years ago, the Nikon D70 was the new hotness, but now you can find one for around $250 on eBay. Still, this old digifart can produce a far more well-balanced image than can any cameraphone I know of - so much so that any comparison is simply unfair.

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