Are there any phones on the market anymore that don’t have a camera? Even the term “camera phone” sounds antiquated. The last cellphone I owned that didn’t include a camera feature was my classic black Nokia with the single-color screen, circa 1999 – just about the only thing I could do on that phone besides well, call someone, was play that fantastically addicting Nokia game, “Snake.” But now, phones are all about the camera feature. And these internal cameras have come a long way, from the grainy, low-res shots of the first camera phones to the 5.0 Megapixel lens of the iPhone 4. In fact, the higher-quality iPhone 4 camera has sparked a real trend in mobile photography, the practice termed “iPhoneography,” in which people shoot and post-process digital photos – many by professionals – all using their iPhone cameras (click for more info on iPhoneography). There are also other traditional cellphones out there that boast better-than-average cameras – CNET reviews some of them here.
But why does the camera have to take a backseat to the phone? I mean, voice-quality aside, it doesn’t really matter how I make a phone call as long as I can make it – and send a text or two, of course. Cameras seem to require a lot more gadgetry to produce a truly good photo. Phones just require… well, ok I’m sure it takes some gadgetry to make a phone call, too, but wouldn’t it seem simpler to insert a calling feature in a fully-functioning camera, complete with f/stop settings, flash, zoom, and focus? Why not develop a camera that happens to be able to make calls, instead of the other way around? I’m tired of taking sub-par shots on my cellphone! I want it all!
Panasonic, it turns out, may have come to my rescue! The company is launching a camera in their Lumix line that is just what I’ve been waiting for – a true camera-phone! or maybe it should be called a “phone-camera.” The Lumix Phone made its debut at the Ceatec Show in Tokyo last week, and boasts a 13.2 Megapixel, 27mm wide angle lens, Panasonic’s Mobile VenusEngine (a chip that improves color production and supports high definition photo processing) and a 3.3-inch VGA LCD touch screen. The camera is also complete with WiFi and DLNA support, making sharing digital photos as simple as pie. And guess what – it even makes phone calls!
Panasonic is one of Japan’s largest cell-phone developers, but despite their Lumix camera line (which is sold all over the world) Panasonic’s phones are rarely sold overseas. So unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Americans will be seeing the Lumix Phone on the streets anytime soon. Doesn’t mean we can’t oogle at Panasonic’s brilliance – maybe they’ll notice our oogling (and shameless flattery) and send the phone-camera hybrid our way!