Originally Posted by Spamdumpster
I just took a long walk in the woods with my two year old and took a bunch of pics with my new pearl (Cingular, .69 OS). I didn't change any of the settings on the camera while we were out, but some of the pic files are +400k and others are -50k, one as low as 14k. What gives?
The Pearl on zoom mode is sheet and should be avoided. Sounds like you were in zoom mode without knowing it.
For me, the zoom feature on the Pearl is easy to accidentally engage because I press the trackball to take a pic. The trackball also what adjusts the zoom feature, so it is easy to zoom in when one has no intention to.
Just before taking a pic I check to make sure the zoom indicator says "1x" If it does not, I use the trackball to get it back to 1x.
As to why all this is so, the camera on the Pearl is very basic meaning beyond taking 1.3MP pics at the settings the Pearl software allows, it's not going to perform beyond that, especially to the level of what we expect from even low end digital cameras [meaning digital cameras that are nowadays $100 or so].
Making things worse, digital zoom is crap, that is compared to optical zoom. Optical zoom uses the camera lens to mechanically zoom, much like binoculars. Digital zoom uses software to magnify in on a "preset" image [in our case, Pearl's 1.3MP pic], similar to looking at a picture with a magnifying glass.
As I mentioned before, digital zoom magnifies the digital image or pixels. A way to understand this is to put a sharp photo on your Windows desktop. Look at it from the distance and see how clear it is. Then put your nose a few inches from the screen. Notice how the pic degrades when you are up close to the screen because you can see the colored retangular pixels. When getting close to the screen you have magnified or zoomed in on the existing pic which from a distance looks better. Digital zoom works the same way.
Considering that the Pearl is one remarkable device, that is, all it does for $200 [upgrade price], I think the camera does a good job.
As to making the camera better in terms of features, the other posts are correct, you cannot install an optical zoom on such a small device. RIM would have to beef up the phone's size substantially to install an optical zoom lens. Doing so would defeat the phone's small form factor. Besides, the Pearl is a cell phone with a "convenience" camera on it. The camera is not meant to compete with or come close to dedicated digital cameras.
I think the best rule to follow is to never use the phone's zoom feature. In fact, best as I can tell, RIM put the feature on the camera interface simply to be able to say the camera has zoom control. It operates so poorly that I can't imagine RIM thought it was a good design/feature.
By the way, digital zoom is so crappy on cameras that on all my digital cameras I have the digital zoom feature turned off so that I don't accidentally zoom past optical zoom mode.
Cracks me up recalling the "zoom wars" that took place in the late 90's. At that time, the buying public looked to see how big a zoom number a camera had and would buy based on that. Some cameras had big letters advertising "200X ZOOM" It took a few years for the public to realize that 200X digital zoom took crappy pictures.