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Cell phone camera with optical zoom
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Christine Thuermer
(chgeth1) - F
Cell phone camera with optical zoom on 02/05/2011 20:09:55 MST Print View

As a true ultralighter I also try to reduce the weight of my technical gadgets and have therefore been travelling for the last 3 years with a Nokia N95 cell phone. I used it as my cell phone, my MP3 player, my camera and as an emergency GPS. It is the only technical gadget I carry on long trips (beside a GPS sometimes). I carry 4 extra batteries for it and also need only one recharger - because it is just one gadget.

Although I have been quite happy with this setup the major limitation is the quality of the photos mainly due to the lack of a decent zoom. The N95 has a 5 megapixel camera, but only a digital zoom. Also it is pretty much at the end of its lifetime after 3 years of use.

I am now looking for a similar setup but including an OPTICAL zoom. The cell phone must have the following features:

- Cell phone of course
- MP3 player with slot for micro SD cards
- camera with OPTICAL zoom
- exchangeable batteries (so I can carry spare one for long trips)
- Internet access via wifi
- GPS function (not a must though)

My research has not come up with anything new. All few the cell phone cameras I have found were more than 3 years old... Isn't there anything new out there on the market?

Thanks for any tipps or input,

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Cell phone camera with optical zoom on 02/05/2011 20:48:42 MST Print View

First of all, let me go on record as being a normal photographer with normal DSLR cameras. I do own a cell phone that I seldom use. It will shoot the simplest of photos, and I do not claim to be a wizard on the market.

I don't think that you will find very many cell phone cameras that have much in the way of "real" camera features like optical zoom. In a camera lens, optical zoom can be accomplished only by two methods that I am familiar with. One is the photographer actually grabs the zoom barrel on the lens and twists it somehow. The other is done by the photographer pushing some button, and an internal motor drives the zoom function. That latter method eats up battery power, so cell phone designers generally try to avoid it. There isn't enough lens to grab hold of for the first method. Even if there was, it would be the first thing to break.

Digital zoom is "crap," and I won't discuss it.


Mercutio Stencil
(fuzz2050) - F
Rare as hens teeth on 02/06/2011 01:11:35 MST Print View

I haven't heard of a single cell phone is recent memory with optical zoom. This is about as close as I could think of.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Cell phone camera with optical zoom on 02/06/2011 02:28:19 MST Print View

Samsung announced last year the SCH W880, 3x zoom , 12mp camera/phone.
I do not know if it is available or not...
Samsung phone zoom
kyocera also made one with a 3x Zeiss lens but it disappeared probably before the merger with Sanyo

Brian Lewis
(brianle) - F

Locale: Pacific NW
zoom vs. wide angle on 02/06/2011 03:47:39 MST Print View

It strikes me as an interesting question as in the outdoors I haven't been too interested in a good zoom for the most part --- I guess that with a cell phone camera I haven't contemplated sharp photos of wildlife at a distance, which is the main reason I could be interested.

What I've wanted instead is sort of the opposite, a wide-angle lense. My Droid X includes on-camera stitching software that's the easiest to use that I've encountered, so I anticipate taking some two-picture panoramas in future to just "get" more of the scene that I'm looking at.

I suspect that a true, mechanical zoom will remain rare on cell phones because it is, after all, an analog/mechanical zoom that inevitably requires some precious weight and internal space on the phone body.