Sizing up the iPhone 4 for shutterbugs

After Apple announced the hardware specs at WWDC, we saw some readers quickly lament Apple’s decision not to jam in an 8MP or higher sensor that some of the competition is sporting—after all, if 5MP is better than 3.1MP, then 8MP (or even 12MP) is even better, right?

Unfortunately, not all pixels are created equal, and it’s worth considering the impact that more megapixels would have on the iPhone’s design as well as the resulting image quality. For comparison’s sake, OmniVision offers an 8MP sensor in the 1/3.2″ size; since Apple already chose a 1/3.2″ sensor for the iPhone 4, there’s no difference there. However, it would require a larger and/or more expensive lens to resolve enough detail to take advantage of those additional 3 million pixels—not an easy feat since Apple shaved off 24 percent of the size of the iPhone 3GS. Further, an 8MP sensor has 1.4µm pixel pitch, with sensitivity below that of the iPhone 3GS.

Great article about the iPhone 4′s new camera system. It may be nothing spec-head geeks will appreciate, but those of us in the real world like a technical discussion that isn’t based on marketing and sales checklists.

Google Acquires Online Image-Editing Tool Picnik

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Picnik will remain up and operational, at least for the foreseeable future.

Google already has Picasa Web. Did they buy to beef up that product, or to keep others from acquiring? I wonder about the strategy. Sometimes it seems Google just can’t stand any eyeballs on the web not looking at one of their own.

Photographers to lose copyright and right to take photographs in public [u]

If they are not registered with this quango agency, your images can be plundered and used anywhere, by anyone – on the understanding that the thief makes a very minimal effort to find you – the author of the image.

This is frightening proposed legislation. You can always tell when proponents know how much a bill stinks by the way they try to slide it in without definitive wording or real debate.

[UPDATE:] Account was suspended at original link; here’s a link to the cached page: http://bit.ly/cs89bW

True HDR iPhone Photo App is Awesome.

The iPhone 3GS’ feature to tap for setting focus and exposure is great, allowing for better photos than previous iPhones. However, sometimes I’m stuck with a choice of extreme lights or darks, and find myself tapping something in the middle for a rather bland compromise.

Not any more.

See the photo below of the view out my office window. In this case I focused on the ground, which looks good, but at the expense of a too-white sky that lacks contrast.

Below is a photo of the same scene, this time focused on the sky. It’s bluer, and you can better make out the hazy outline of Mt. Santiago, but at the expense of the ground looking more in shadow.

Now see the photo below, which is the result of “merging” the above two photos in True HDR. It’s a nice combination of the best exposures from both photos. Sweet.

No, this is not a substitute for better exposure in the first place. However, in most cases it’s better than under- or over-exposing the scene and trying to use the brightness/contrast settings of an iPhone app like Photogene to fix the bad parts. While no miracle worker, True HDR simply works better for moderate to large exposure discrepancies than any iPhone post-processing app I’ve seen.

One drawback is that the output is limited to 960×960 resolution, with “full resolution” promised in a later update. Also note that this app requires an iPhone 3GS because the whole point is to capture two pictures with exposure “extremes” via the tap-to-focus feature.

For me this was a no-brainer purchase, especially at only $2. If you take a lot of photos with your iPhone 3GS, or want to, this is a great app to have in your toolkit.