Links: Phoning it in

I have a theory that cell phone cameras may eventually replace the point-and-shoot camera. There are some that are pretty sophisticated (such as the Canon G11), but most point-and-shoots are designed to be small, lightweight and easy to use. The fact that nearly everyone has a cell phone and improvements in picture quality of those phones have lessened the need for someone to carry two devices that take pictures.

Renowned photojournalist Michael Williamson, formerly of the Sacramento Bee and now with the Washington Post (he’s won the Pulitzer Prize in 1990, the National Press Photographer Association’s in 2000 and White House News Photographer’s Association’s photographer of the year in 2001) is traveling across country photographing the effects of the recession using only an iPhone. Williamson has said in an interview that he likes the immediacy (he can email the pictures to the Post almost as soon as he takes them) and the intimacy of a small, unobtrusive camera that a smart phone can bring (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/on-recession-road/2011/04/18/AFyDpj5D_gallery.html#photo=1).

This year the San Joaquin County Fair’s annual photography show included a new category: Cell phone photos. Camera phones and the pictures taken by them are ubiquitous these days so it only makes sense that they have a spot at the fair. Some of the pictures were what you’d expect from a phone, but some were pretty good, proving the adage: it’s not the equipment, it’s the photographer that takes a great picture.

The pictures:
There are a number of Web sites and blogs that feature cell phone photography. The iPhoneography blog by Glyn Evans (http://www.iphoneography.com/) is dedicated to cell phone photos and videos and has some great iPhone information, tips and pictures. The Pixiq website has some creative images posted on its “100 amazing iPhone” entry (http://www.pixiq.com/article/amazing-iphone-photos). There’s even an iPhone group on the photo sharing site Flickr full of some great pics (http://www.flickr.com/groups/takenwithiphone/). In April the Gizmodo website held a cell phone camera shooting challenge. Readers to the blog sent in some pretty incredible and clever pictures (http://gizmodo.com/5795719/168-incredible-cellphone-photos).

For the past four years the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA) has held a competition featuring some stunning cell phone pictures. There’s a fee ($3.50 for a single entry and up to $27.50 for 10 images) but all you have to do is to go to their web site and upload your photos. The deadline for next year’s contest is March 31, 2012. (http://ippawards.com/2011/)

The apps:
There are special apps that can alter or enhance the look of your cell phone pictures. You can make your shots look like they were shot on film or on a Polaroid camera or many other special effects. The App Storm Web site has posted 100 photography apps for the iPhone each for only a few bucks.
(http://iphone.appstorm.net/roundups/photography/100-fantastic-photography-apps-for-iphone/)

Odds n’ ends:

German-made Leica cameras were and are expensive and have been objects of desire for many photographers for decades, despite using old technology (The old M-series cameras were rangefinders and used manual focus lenses). Even today, though the new M cameras are digital, they still are rangefinders with manual lenses and still worth oohs and ahhs from even the most seasoned shooter. Now there’s a away to make your lowly cell phone camera look like a Leica. You can add a faux skin to your iPhone. A MacRumors reader printed out a picture of a Leica M8 and placed it under a glass cover to make the phone look like a camera (http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=949047).

Through the Photojojo store online (http://photojojo.com/store/awesomeness/iphone-slr-mount/) you can get a special mount to attach a DSLR lens to your iPhone. I looks rather silly with the lens being bigger and heavier than the cell phone. It begs the question if you’re carrying your regular camera equipment, then why use a cell phone camera? But still if you want to the adapter will set you back about $250.

A few years ago, I posted this video done by Seattle-based photographer Chase Jarvis. It’s a great way to show that using a simple device such as an iPhone can inspire one’s creativity in other areas. It’s also fun to watch again and again.

I think that DSLR cameras are pretty secure from the camera phone phenomenon. The versatility and superior image quality of DSLRs keep them popular for photo hobbyists, serious amateurs and professionals. But against point-and-shoots the cell phone camera can provide some pretty serious competition.

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