Given the increasing convergence between televisions, computers, mobile phones and even some household appliances, and the wide availability of Wi-Fi and other mobile Internet connectivity, I've wondered why digital cameras – even high-end professional models – have been left nearly untouched by this trend.
It seems like a desirable feature: Take a picture, upload or email it immediately. High-end smartphones have cameras capable of taking clear photos and sending them hither and yon, but for photojournalists or other professionals being able to send high-resolution pictures from the field would seem a natural.
Sure, you can carry a laptop around or maybe read the memory card from your phone. But that's not nearly as convenient as being able to send from the device itself.
Camera manufacturers are beginning to take some baby steps in this direction. Canon, Sony and Samsung have begun to add wireless Internet capability to their cameras, so with a Wi-Fi signal you can upload images and videos directly to online services like Picasa and YouTube. Some cameras are including apps that allow users to touch up images and add effects – smartphones have had this for years.
Wi-Fi is well and good if you're at home or somewhere it's available.
But if you think about how many people use cameras – on vacation at a campground, for instance – it might not be enough.
Having cellular network capabilities – the kind that exist in smartphones -- might be a better bet.
The camera manufacturers would benefit from this; they're under increasing pressure as mobile phones sporting cameras in the 8-10 megapixel range become widely available. Of course, the cameras in phones make certain sacrifices – particularly in lens quality and zoom capabilities – and are generally not suited for high-quality photography.
So far, only Samsung has picked up the gauntlet on this challenge, with its new "Galaxy Camera," a $500, 16-megapixel model offering a 21x optical zoom. It runs the Android operating system, so apps can be installed. It features a large touchscreen display – but don't let that fool you, this is a real camera, not an overgrown camera-phone.
According to Samsung, it's going to be distributed via mobile phone carriers, since a data plan is required for connectivity. It's expected to be released sometime in October.
Nick DeLorenzo is director of interactive and new media for The Times Leader. E-mail him at [email protected].