So yesterday I posed a question about Phone Cameras and thanks to all who responded. I've got to confess it's was a slightly loaded question, as I said I am thinking about putting together a short course/workshop in Phone Camera use and this is all heading somewhere.
Personally when I am trying to share some knowledge about anything I often try and list a series of pros and cons about what it is I'm try trying to share. And sure enough there has been some additions to the list by my readers.
While Phone Camera's up until recently had such poor levels of resolution, and small storage capacities, the whole idea of doing anything other than sending the photo to another phone user or posting on the web or e-mailing these images, were incomprehensible to phone users. Now with increased resolutions and phone storage capacities their uses are able to be extended, with some provisos.[Avant-garde image makers think differently I believe.]
Remember these are the modern equivalent of the 126 and 110 cameras of the 70's the latest incarnation in the idea that George Eastman brought to the Western world way back in the 1900's. Many many family histories have been recorded using these small cameras, not so many serious bodies of work though?. I am at a loss at the moment to remember anyone who has used a 126 or equivalent to produce a serious body of work however, and I don't consider Lartigue a candidate here as cameras were still in the realm of the wealthy middle and upper classes of the time.
Has anything changed since then that would allow people to make and record their lives differently? Well computers and the internet have impacted dramatically, the way folks capture and share images, these cameras are more than perfect for recording family histories, and small and easy enough to share almost immediately. With most people's expectations of these images are along the lines of, can I see what is important, faces scenery etc, these cameras then serve this function well under the right conditions, outdoors in bright sun for example. They are then able to say to themselves, "I'll send it or have it printed for my Mum/Aunty/Friend".
Such is the proliferation of these small cameras, that no longer do you even need a computer for this, most photo labs, in Melbourne anyway, have the ability to accept all sizes and shapes of memory cards to enable printing from any cameras including phone cameras or accept bluetooth transfers. So already we have the ability to not only electronically share our phone camera images but now print them out using traditional min-lab i.e. small prints.
I believe that electronic sharing of these images is more than enough to justify their use, the proliferation of photo sharing sites out there along with websites interested in the idea of alternative image making means a body of work can be produced and shared easily and quickly with as many like-minded people as you can find. Provided you accept the limitations of these cameras, and plenty of limitations they have.
So what other things can we do with these cameras? Well unless you are prepared to accept great seas of digital artefacts and horrendous lens aberrations, it's highly unlikely that you will be making 1 meter wide prints and exhibiting them, if on the other hand you are happy with a small print there are some other options outside of online publishing. With access to any desktop publishing software and a decent quality printer, you can print your own cards and books thus adding some meaning to the work you are making using these discrete little cameras. Possibly even creating a level of revenue that could justify the time and effort spent on printing them. There are even several online services that allow you to upload and publish, books cards and calendars, to an online store. This is based on the premise of a small book as file sizes are still on the low side to make anything bigger than 6 inches by 4 inches. I guess though, a 4 or 5 mega-pixel phone camera is only months away?
Hmm waffled on a bit today sorry?
Anyway here's my table of pros and cons.
|Small, goes everywhere.||Small file size/s may inhibit output options, too many choices for the inexperienced.|
|Discrete, able to be used anywhere the user feels morally comfortable.||Certain social situations may not be the right place to make an image.|
Able to be sent anywhere anytime.
|Costs could become prohibitive, if not used wisely, not supported by all telephony providers.|
|Instant feedback.||Critical self-evaluation of images not encouraged.*|
|Almost infinite Depth of Field.||Poor Lens quality.|
|Wide Angle lens, wider angle of view than the human eye.||Wide Angle lens, wider angle of view than the human eye, requires skillful use and operation in terms of composition.|
|Zoom is digital.||Limited Zoom is digital resulting in high levels of noise.|
|Unpredictable results, giving weird colours strange movement and noise and blur.||Unpredictable results, may not be desirable depending on users aesthetic.|
|Unpredictable results.||No technical controls, f stops shutter speeds etc.|
|Limited choices means image maker must think hard about how to make a good image, without relying on zooming etc.||Limited accessory range.|
|Can be used anywhere where there is light.||Requires ample light, unless user can accept high levels of digital noise.|