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Nokia 6680 - megapixel camera possibilities
Now that's getting harder and harder to find a device without an integrated camera especially speaking about mobile phones. In the manufacturer's eyes a camera is an undoubted attribute of a mid or high price segment phone. However, there are at least two factors that make the expediency of integrating a camera dubious.
First, that is the picture quality. This parameter in the majority of integrated cameras is anyway very low. Photos taken in a bright daylight are quite good but still useful only for viewing on a small screen or assigning to a contact, for instance. Just transfer the photos to a PC and you'll see all the shortcomings of an integrated camera with a naked eye. I'll repeat we speak about an abstract average phone and do not mean any certain models, there are very deserving examples. It's quite paradoxical to hear acquaintances of mine saying "I'll buy a phone without an integrated camera". On my question "why" I hear an answer it is useless in the presence of a professional one even if it doesn't add to the price of the device. This position is quite understandable, just imagine an owner of an expensive Canon 20D getting acquainted with the quality of the photos taken with the Motorola MPx220. Drawing an analogy we can imagine an owner of an expensive sport car buying watches and given a tram as a gift.
Second, security questions. In many public places people with cameraphones are not allowed. And more and more companies in the world forbid carrying devices with integrated cameras in. And really, what sense in forbidding to use a USB drive, diskettes and CD-R, restrict access rights in security measures, if one can just take a photo of a necessary data from the company's internal ERP system (balance, top managers' salary data, a partner list, circulation data, payments and detailed data about other transactions). During the negotiations with rival companies one can inadvertently take a photo of a project text that accidentally caught his eyes. And then examine if it may bring profit. Even a photo of a monitor hang with stickers may tell much.
The situation will change a bit with the launch of 2 megapixel (further MP) cameras, autofocus and even 1.3 MP ones providing with qualitative photos (Nokia 6680 among them). Such a long introduction was prompted by the fact the Nokia 6680 is one of such devices standing on a turn point of a consumer perception of such devices. The prof-audience (analysts, journalists writing reviews, frequent forum visitors that give pieces of advice to newbies) gradually quit percepting integrated cameras as useless toys because of the quality. A segment of communicators and smartphones was especially deprived with qualitative cameras, top models with QWERTY-keypads are equipped with VGA-cameras and the situation will change only in the second half of 2005.
And a reverse side of the picture quality improvement is stronger security measures concerning integrated cameras. The manufacturers understand it and not to make troubles to their customers produce their models in two variants - with an integrated camera and without it. Gradually Nokia takes this approach also but still top models are shipped with an integrated camera. And here is where we pass to the Nokia 6680 review.
An active slider protecting the camera from dirt and damage is applied in the device. Opening the slider is quite easy - with one hand or even a finger. And if you start opening it manually an integrated spring finishes it and the same about closing the slider. A slider motion gets softer with time; it gets a backlash (significant but not serious).
At the slider opening the phone automatically turns a shooting mode on, the screen serves as a viewfinder. The max picture resolution forms 1280 x 960 pixels, multiply and get 1228800 pixels that is 1.23 MP. That is an effective number of pixels in the integrated 1.3 MP camera. To speak in advance, the quality of the camera is comparable to the Nokia 6630 - that is one of the bets on the market
Only two resolutions are available - 1280 x 960 pixels and 640 x 480 pixels. It's not quite understandable why the list is restricted with these two values. You can choose one of the three compression quality types - High, Normal and Basic. If you have bought a flash card of big size you'd better take the photos in High mode. After pressing the joystick (serves as a shutter button) the picture is being saved for 3-4 seconds. You can make a series of 6 pictures one after another (sequence mode). Placing the device on the bottom end, setting the timer (for 10, 20 or 30 seconds) you can take a self photo. Brightness, contrast, black and white balance and a color background may be adjusted manually. This is almost all the settings, the number is not minimal, but a list of the changeable parameters is not big. The point is the effects may be then applied to a photo or a clip.
Indoors photos are also not bad, similar to the Nokia 6630. Sometimes a bit degraded but generally not bad. The image is clear, the colours are not anomalous, and noises are not striking. It seems only white color on vivid objects suffer, the colour is a clear white spot with no tints and colour play. That is a result of the post editing mechanism work.
The picture quality in a daylight (sunny day or cloudy) is rather good, the photos look worthy on the phone's screen. It's not shameful to print them 10 x 15 and show to your friends. Using a night mode is undesirable in the dark or poor light condition (the picture is brighter, many noises and a picture seems smeared). Look at the examples: the left one is normal mode and the right one is night.
That's significant photos may be taken even at night and some details may be made out. Though the pictures show the image was stretched out using program algorithms. Night photo samples:
Macroshooting can't be called ideal though it's not bag in general.
The flash works in the distance of 1.5 meters. If turning the flash on in average and good light it may spoil the photo, for instance, overlight the face. That is an example of an absolutely black door lighting:
I'd like to demonstrate the Nokia 6680 in the battle conditions at the Novosibirsk IDF. And we'll stress again the camera copes good with poor light conditions:
There is also a frontal VGA-camera in the device. Its main purpose - video-calls. Switching between the cameras is automatical by opening/closing a slider or via the menu.
Video recording possibilities haven't changed as compared with the Nokia 6630. Subjectively, the quality of the video recording improved, the image doesn't break at sharp motion (The new software versions of the Nokia 6630 show improvement also, the video quality is comparable to the Nokia 6680).
The image looks not very good on the phone's screen let alone a PC one. That is mainly caused by the resolution. The next models will show the maximum attention to video possibilities, and this one represents a recording possibility as fashion one.
Clips are stored in 3GP format and you can choose the limit of 10 seconds (for MMS), or unlimited duration (up to 60 minutes). The resolution for video may be set in evident view - 176 x 144 pixels and 128 x 96 pixels.
A train arrival (3GP, 176x144) >>>
Also, we'd note, considering the clip with a tram, we can say the camera is CMOS and not CCD. The bottom part outstrips the upper one and that is a specificity of image reading in this matrixes.
Processing photos and video
So, pictures are taken and video is recorded, what to do then? There are several preset programs for working with the material.
Photo Editor. You can balance the colours (choose from the three auto modes: Darken Image, Balance Image, Brighten Image), frame a photo, put text into a frame or rotate the image.
Video Editor. This application allows editing clips, slow them down, join, add effects (only black and white) and an audio track.
Movie Director. The utility came from the previous smartphone. You choose video clips, photos and make a video clip on this base. The program is interesting and may carry away for a while.
The got material may be viewed from Image Manager and RealPlayer. Photos and clips may be sent to a computer via e-mail, Bluetooth or just plug the card out of the device and use it.
Kodak Mobile. The idea is quite plain - you upload the photos to the server from you mobile, the printed photos are delivered by a courier. The service is quite perspective but still is not developed well.
Image Print. An interesting peculiarity of the program is a possibility to print via USB using PictBridge compatible printers. Select an image, connect to a printer via a cable and that's all. You can print via Bluetooth using this very program.
This is the bets model among smartphones/communicators in the quality of the pictures and functionality (an active slider, flash, the second camera). That is an undoubted leader of the segment and only the Nokia 6630 may compete. Very good pictures in a daylight, perfect night mode and soft zoom. The camera copes with difficult light conditions. Its ergonomics is well-though over. There are reach possibilities for processing the taken material. Video recording quality may be referred to minuses (the cavil concerns the resolution), few resolutions to choose, not good macromode photos.
If the model is compared with usual phones it is on the same level with the Sharp GX30, though a bit loosing due to another matrix type. The Sony Ericsson k750i surpasses but the phone is not sold yet. We are looking forward to the N-series Nokia smartphones in out laboratory, they are to show better photo quality than the Nokia 6680.
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Published 1 June 2005
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