Camera phones have come quite a long way since the first J-phone. But because it’s hard to cram megapixels into a phone while keeping it slim, most phones are likely to remain far behind their point and shoot counterparts.
And since point-and-shoot quality hasn’t come to phones, cameras are bringing phone functionality to point-and-shoots. These new phameras (camerones?) run on Android and take quality photos that you can share with a tap.
A few weeks ago, Nikon released the Nikon Coolpix S8800c. It’s the first camera to truly offer the functionality and web-friendliness that many so-called Wi-Fi capable cameras promise but never deliver. That increased sharability is thanks to an Android OS that makes your camera as intuitive as your Android phone.
Full On Android
The Nikon Coolpix runs on Android 2.3 Gingerbread (no updates are coming) and features a touch-sensitive 3.5-inch OLED display. Surrounding the screen you’ll find physical Home, Back and Menu buttons to help you navigate just as you would on a phone.
Once you get into the interface, it’s all Android but the homescreen starts out with just five icons: Shooting, Play, Upload, Browser and Settings. For app access, simply tap on Google Play for access to any app including Instagram, Twitter and all of the other social media outlets including Google+ and Gmail (for easy access to all of your email contacts). There’s even an on-screen QWERTY keyboard.
Once you take your 16MP pictures (with 10x optical zoom) or 1080p HD video, onboard GPS records your location for map updates. Then just tap the photo for options to share the photo via Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or virtually anywhere else. For hard copies of your photos, there’s a removable SD card (full-size)
Nikon’s Not the Only One
The only limitation to the Coolpix’s sharability is its Wi-Fi connection. If you’re an ecotourist who likes to take pictures of wildlife in remote jungles, you’re out of luck unless there’s a cloud forest Starbucks nearby. And if their Wi-Fi connection is weak (many users have reported that the Coolpix resists connecting to some Wi-Fi networks), you may be better off waiting until you get home.
Lucky for us, next week Samsung is debuting a Samsung Galaxy camera. It’s another point and shoot that operates on Android. But unlike the Nikon Coolpix S8800c, the Samsung Galaxy camera won’t be limited to Wi-Fi.
Samsung plans to release its new Galaxy camera via AT&T which means you’ll be able to upload your photos from wherever you are via a standard data plan (but you won’t be able to talk on it which would have been a great bridge between the two worlds).
Thanks in part to their dual-functionality, phameras/camerones are a little pricey. The Nikon Coolpix S8800c will cost you about twice as much as an unlocked Android at $350. However, for serious photographers who take pictures for their blog or work, this new sharability is well worth the investment.
But if you don’t have to get snapping right now, we recommend waiting a few weeks. Samsung will announce the price of their new Samsung Galaxy camera any day now. Polaroid says they’ve got an Android-powered camera that they’ll announce at the Consumer Electronics show later this year. And many more models are right around the corner.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram integration looks a lot like the future of photography technology. And until manufacturers can figure out how to get high megapixel cameras into phones while keeping them slim, we see cameras looking a lot more like phones instead of the other way around.