For quite a few months now, I've been wasting time playing with the imaging function of the cell phone my mobile telephony provider offered me when extending my contract. First off, well, searching the web for that very device, there have been quite some praises of its internal CyberShot camera, and I honestly have to say: It's not really that good (am I actually surprised, just looking at the size of its lens?) However, I figured out one really good thing about cell-phone cams quite a while ago: It's the most accessible, available kind of imaging device so far I can imagine. No matter how much I enjoy my (non-digital) SLRs and as well as my digital FinePix cam, it's always one more device to carry with you in order to take pictures, and, most of the time, just encountering a situation, a view, an insight you would want to capture, you know you don't have your camera equipment with you that very moment (which is obvious as you can't run around carrying your cams and your lenses and possibly your tripod and all these things with you all the time). In these situations, a cell phone cam is of utterly great help: It's just there as I use to have my cell phone with me all the time, anyway. Picture quality is nowhere next to what you're used to from other cameras, same as your technical options in using this tool are pretty limited, but it's simply "available" the very moment you just need to take a shot of a situation, a moment or possibly just a given "mood" which you possibly won't be able to reproduce, later on. In an interview done quite a couple of years ago (in 1994, to be accurate, more or less the time Neuromancer initially was published), Canadian novelist William Gibson made a statement on technology which somehow reminds me of that situation: "... Q: What is in your opinion the most important technological breakthrough of our society in recent years ? A: My favorite piece of technology is the Walkman. It forever changed the way we perceive music. The Walkman has given us the opportunity to listen to whatever kind of music we wanted wherever we wanted. ..." In my opinion, things are just alike about cell phone cameras: While digital SLRs and mid-range / semi-professional cameras have proven to be an extremely valuable tools to all those wanting to do real work leveraging both the power of "real" optics and state-of-the-art software and algorithms, the cell phone camera possibly has done an actual change by changing the view, the perspective of how we look at "imaging", at "capturing pictures" in general: It's there, for us, to be used - wherever we want, and however we want. Maybe this also compensates for the image quality (which is lousy at times) a little... after all, there also have been artists using Polaroid or Lomo cams. ;)
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