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Article Title: "New Camera Cell Phones Make Snapshots Easy - If Not Always Sharp "
Author: RUSSELL SHAW 
Section: Internet & Technology 
Date: 5/15/2003 

If you've watched TV lately, you've probably seen ads for wireless camera phones. The commercials show a range of people swapping quirky snapshots via their cell phones.

You get the impression that the devices are just for fun. But cell phones equipped with digital cameras have some business uses as well.

Say you're out hunting office space. If you have a cell phone camera, you'll be able to e-mail a photo of the potential new surroundings to your business partner.

Depending on the phone you use, you may also be able to forward your photos to a Web site, where your colleagues and friends can view your snapshots.

A number of popular phones offer camera capability. They include the Nokia 3650, the Sanyo SCP-5300, the Sony Ericsson P800 and the Samsung SGH-V205.

Prices generally range from $100 to about $350, but cost can vary based on the package deals offered by cellular service providers.

In all cases, the cameras' picture quality is very basic - far short of most of today's free-standing digital cameras.

The photo resolution for the Sony Ericsson P800 is typical. That device's top setting - 640 by 480 pixels - is similar to the resolution offered by consumer digital cameras five years ago. The number of pixels - short for picture elements - indicates the sharpness of the picture. The higher the ratio, the clearer the photo.

How do the phones work? Once you take a picture, the image file representing the photo is stored in the unit's memory.

At a time of your choosing, you can send out that photo in a couple of ways. You can attach the image to an e-mail and send it out via your cell phone provider's wireless Web service. Or you can transmit the snapshot directly to another phone - if it's equipped with image capability.

Taking and sending photos from the Nokia 3650 typifies how the process works. The unit - which measures 5.1 by 2.2 inches with a thickness of 1 inch - has a camera built in. To snap a picture, you press the Camera prompt on the unit. The Camera application will then open, revealing a small viewfinder on the phone.

Not unlike a standard digital still camera, the viewfinder will display the image area available to be captured.

Before you take your shot, it's a good idea to customize your Camera settings and mode. These choices will let you customize the resolution for the photo you are about to take, according to the quality of the image you want and the lighting conditions in effect at the time.

The Camera application settings are controlled through the Options menu that opens when you open the Camera application itself. Available settings include high, normal and basic.

The Camera mode customization settings are controlled by pressing the Change icon on the phone interface. This icon appears as a capital letter "C," enclosed in a circle.

Available modes appear in a menu that comes up after you hit the Change icon. These modes include Standard, Portrait and Night.

In the product manual for the Nokia 3650, the manufacturer recommends Standard when you wish to take normal landscape pictures, Portrait "when you want to take a smaller icon-sized, vertical picture, which can be added to a contact card," and Night during dimly lit conditions when the camera will require a longer exposure time to take a picture.

Standard and Night settings have a viewfinder resolution of 160 by 120 pixels, and are saved at a pixel resolution of 640 by 480. That resolution is less than one-tenth the image quality of most of today's digital photo cameras. Because of their smaller size, Portrait resolution and mode are 8 by 96 pixels.

The better the image quality, the fewer images the phone can store. For example, a Basic Night setting will accommodate 50 images, while a Standard High setting only allows for 15 stored photos.

Taking the photo is the simplest part of the process.

Most camera phones have a icon that looks like a camera or a lens. The Nokia 3650's photo prompt looks like a small circular lens. To take a photo, click the prompt.

The camera inside the phone will take the shot. It may take a few seconds to snap the photo. If you move the phone prematurely, the image may be blurry or not be saved at all.

After you take your photo, you may wish to send it. Nokia has a "Via e-mail" choice in the Options menu. On most phones, you will scroll through a list of stored photos and then use your phone keypad to select the message you want to send.

To actually send the photo, you typically need to find the Send menu. The Send menu is usually accessible as a choice in the Options menu. 

 


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