Cell Phone Photo Quality

Cell photos with cameras are everywhere and you always have one. Are they able to take decent quality photo?

Yes…under the right conditions. THE biggest issue cell cameras have is the sensors aren’t very sensitive to light. Sounds odd, although unfortunately true. This lack of sensitivity to light causes images to be very grainy in low-light conditions. Forget the megapixel count, it’s the sensor sensitivity to light which really matters. Digital SLRs have very good sensors, but they can afford too since they’re upwards of $1000 or even much more. A cell phone has to do all kinds of things, like being a phone, internet browser, media player, etcetera. Hence the camera aspect in this mix is secondary at best. Given that the sensor is the most important aspect of the camera (right up there with the lens), and that good cameras are expensive, there’s little wonder cell phone sensors aren’t very good in all conditions. Compounding the problem is that the majority of people still think the number of megapixels is the most important aspect of a camera’s quality. Hence manufacturers pack in the megapixels at the cost of better sensitivity to light.

The solution for now: know that your cell phone is going to take a good shot only in bright light. Much of the time there is pretty good light. Just don’t expect the highest quality photos on really cloudy days, during twilight, or indoors if the lights aren’t turn well up.

But aren’t the pictures good enough?

Likely yes! Does a photo’s quality need to be so very great? Is it going to be sold or framed? Judged for it’s quality for any formal reason? Most likely that wasn’t the reason the shot was taken. It was taken likely because you needed to capture a memory or technical aspect of something. Or the photo was intended as a log, where it was simply a recording of a place and time. Many cell cameras do this just fine.

Also of note here is that digital pocket cameras aren’t all that good under low light conditions either. Better in most cases, but still not good enough to be called a quality photo. They can’t be printed much larger than 8 x 10 unless the light was quite right, for example. If consistent quality under a variety of conditions is required, go right to a digial SLR. They are exceptional and worth every penny.

Conclusion: What’s important about a cell phone camera is that you always have it handy when needed. And now you know not to expect too much when the light isn’t good. When the light is reasonable, shots can look like those below. If consistent quality under a variety of conditions is required, go right to a digial SLR. They are exceptional and worth every penny. Chances are though that your handy cell phone will do just fine.

Glenn Rogers, PMP
DBGallery Product Manager



Each of these images were taken with a fairly average cell phone camera these days: a 5 megapixel BlackBerry Torch. The light had to be just perfect. Click them for the full-size untouched original.


Figure 1

Sunshine Village, Banff, Canada

Figure 2

Oil Rig Supply Yard, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Figure 3

A typical grocery store.

Figure 4

Lake Louise, Banff, Canada (with a window reflection)

Figure 5

Oil Rig Supply Boats, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Figure 6

Memorial University and Long Pond, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

Figure 7

Jack (this photo is especially clear)

All photos were taken and their copyright owned by Glenn Rogers

This post is also available on my DBGallery Blog

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Photos: Memory Triggers

If you want to revisit a past experience, whether it be a vacation or business trip, travelling back there by using photos as triggers has huge benefit.

Some say shooting photos isn’t needed because they’ve been there and their memory is enough. Is this true? To some extent maybe, but to re-live and truly get back to a certain place a trigger is needed. It’s been proven over and over that our imperfect human memory requires triggers to dredge up the multitude of memories associated with a given past situation*. Smells work very well, as many of us know, as does music and taste. When one comes across a unique aroma from childhood a burst of memories associated with that smell appears. Photos are like that too. Sure you remember the Sahara Desert excursive, and remember some of the feelings from when being there. But if triggered in some special way, such as seeing a photo from that time and place, there is an order of magnitude difference in the richness of the memories brought up. Suddenly one can smell what was smelled there, feel what was felt, and remember more clearly many other images from that one snapshot, including ones not captured digitally.

Its an extra value of digital photo assets from a personal as well as business perspective. The value is rather obvious in regards to a personal photo collection. But it’s true for businesses as well.

Businesses usually reuse their photos assets for uses such as in print for marketing purposes, but triggers are also an aspect of a photo collection which increases the asset value of a company’s photo collection. Examples being from a legal or insurance use, or perhaps just to help remember who that important business contact was at a conference a couple years back.

Our human memories are imperfect, sadly. Luckily research in memory triggers and the ubiquitousness of digital cameras are there to help.

* See Google Scholar articles. Or for a more entertaining take on memory triggers, check out the great Robert J. Sawyer’s (@RobertJSawyer) sci-fi book Triggers.


Glenn Rogers, PMP
DBGallery Product Manager
This post is also available on DBGallery’s website at http://dbgallery.com/photos-memory-triggers

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Surprisingly Useful Search Options in DBGallery

The search capabilities of DBGallery go well beyond what Windows or almost any other image/file search software offers.  For example, the screenshot below shows unique and easy to use search options.  While they seem innocent they are surprisingly powerful.I get frustrated when I can’t find images I know I added put on my computer just this morning or something I know I viewed just a couple days ago.  I also want to know which images have certain data so I can ensure they at least a rudimentary data tags.  The common scenarios below go over how to do these and several other useful searches.  Surprisingly, it’s extremely hard to find software which lets a person find files or photos this way.  SharePoint doesn’t, for example, and neither do any of the other commonly used photo software, such as Picasso, Adobe Bridge, PicaJet or ACDSee.

DBGallery Unique Search Options (Click for a larger, clearer view)

Scenario A: You or someone else added images today and you’d like to know which photos they were so you can ensure they’re tagged and categorized properly.  Solution: Choose “Added to DB” and 0 Days, press Enter, and those images will show up!Scenario B: You cant’ find the image you’re looking for but know you viewed in within the past couple weeks.  Solution: Select “Last Viewed” and 3 Weeks, press Enter and within the resulting list you will almost surely find that image.Scenario C: Several images were added from difference sources recently.  You would like to know which have no tags nor GPS location information.  Solution: Select the “Basic” and “GPS” checkboxes, press Enter, and shown will be images which have nothing whatsoever entered as Title, Subject, and Keywords as well as no map coordinates.

Scenario D: A map view of images is what you’re looking for.  Any images without map coordinates are irrelevant.  Solution: Select the “GPS” and “Inverse: show files with select data groups”, press enter, and like only image with map coordinates appear.  You would typically switch to Map View to see these if you haven’t already.

Scenario E: You’re looking for only the most popular files across the entire database to discover which are the most viewed by you and others.  Solution: Select the “>” (greater than) radio-button to the right of “Viewed” and choose 50 or 200 to see how many images have been view that many time.

Scenario F: You’re looking for images which have never ever been opened across the database.  Solution: Select the “<” (less than) radio-button to the right of “Viewed”, then choose 1 in the number of times box.  This will show all images which have never been viewed.  Alternatively, set it to 1 or 2 or 5 to determine how many images have rarely been opened for viewing.

Summary
I didn’t use these when they first became available in DBGallery.  After trying them out I don’t know how to live without them.  Give them a try yourself and I’m pretty sure you will find working with your collection a fair bit more effortless and pain-free.

Glenn Rogers, PMP
DBGallery Product Manager
This post is also available on DBGallery’s website at http://dbgallery.com/suprisingly-useful-search-options-dbgallery
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Daily photo from my collection on ShutterPoint

Daily photo from my collection on ShutterPoint. http://ow.ly/afw6c

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Daily photo from my collection on Shutte

Daily photo from my collection on ShutterPoint. http://ow.ly/acdPY

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Daily photo from my collection on ShutterPoint

Daily photo from my collection on ShutterPoint. http://ow.ly/aaINF

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Did you know DBGallery had a WikiPedia page?

Did you know DBGallery had a WikiPedia page? http://ow.ly/a84Ky

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