Cameras in cell phones have come a mighty long way in the past few years, from the pixelated shit-vision of yore to the current breed that have replaced most of our compact digicams. But the sense of wonder is fading, and we need some new features. Who's gonna step up?
No matter how serious a photographer, almost nobody considers themselves above taking camera-phone snapshots. But these five features would elevate the activity to whole other level. Let's shoot for the quality of, say, the Galaxy Camera, in the chassis of an iPhone sized device. It will take time for engineers to figure out how to implement them all without compromising the size and shape of our beloved smartphones, but a day will come!
Pleeease let me adjust exposure. This really isn't an innovation. It's just a no-brainer. Some Android and Windows Phone cameras have some manual controls, and the ones that appeared on Nokia's PureView 808 were pretty comprehensive (too bad the 808 was awful outside of the camera).
LED flashes suck so hard it's remarkable people still use them. They always make your indoor pictures look like vomit-swirl, and your subjects look like laser-eyed robots. I'd rather attach flash-cubes to my phone.
Restrict Vertical Video Recording
No matter how much you explain to relatives why taking vertically oriented video with your phone is a no-no, it doesn't seem to sink in. The solution? Don't let them do it. Youtube has recently employed this tactic in their YouTube Capture app. Let's see it spread.
I'm not talking about digital zoom—aka not-really-zoom-at-all. We need a lens that moves to extend the focal length. PureView 808 had this, but again, that device is barely viable as a phone. The ability to zoom is one of the primary reasons people still buy compact digicams.
Sensor size is—arguably—the single biggest determining factor in digital image quality. Smartphone cameras have little tiny ones. Obviously nobody is going to fit a full-frame or even a micro 4/3 sensor in a phone, but they should be able to pump at least a bit of air into those photo-sites. It will increase dynamic range and low-light sensitivity drastically.
Automatic GIF Maker
Once you shoot a video clip, you should be able to simply select a segment and turn it into a GIF on command. Said GIFs should then be viewable in your photo library. I am sure apps do this, but it should be standard.
Shooting RAW files instead of JPG files will preserve more of an image's original detail. It also makes it easier to alter exposure, color, and sharpness after the fact without degrading the image. Sure, it would use a lot of processing power, but, like, Moore's law—or something.
Image: Shutterstock, Furtseff