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Best Camera Phones

If you're looking for a camera phone, you're better off looking at the best hence this article! To make things even simpler, we've divided the competition according to the megapixel offerings -- 3.2MP and 5MP. While the 3.2MP phones are for those on a budget, the 5 MP ones are for those looking to get the best camera quality from a mobile handset. Even people on a budget can afford to look at a 5 MP camera phone, and we'll walk you through all the options.

Nokia N73: Good Camera, Better Phone

The auto-focus Carl Zeiss lens here makes all the difference. The camera processor, though slow, does clear out most of the noise. This phone has passed through various phases; it has seen a couple of firmware updates and gotten a face-lift to a music edition. The firmware updates have not only maximized the camera output, they have also brought A2DP to the handset.

The camera output has improved in the form of clarity and image processing. The results from the camera are good overall, and the flash is powerful enough to let you achieve good results even at night. Ease of use comes naturally to this phone (it's a Nokia...) and the same applies to the shooter application.

The video capability of the phone is also good, with the max video capture resolution being 320 x 240. The N73 is more a phone than a camera, and the music version is a much better buy. The price difference between the two is less than a thousand, and moreover, it's difficult to find the standard version these days; for less than a grand extra, the music edition N73 comes in a full-black finish and has a 2 GB card bundled. The N73 music edition sells for around Rs 13,400. It is a candy-bar, weighs 116 grams, and its battery will let you go clicking for a day (on a full charge).

Sony Ericsson P1i: The Productive Shooter

You might be surprised to see the P1i being featured in this section; yes, it delivers exceptional image quality. The 3.15MP camera with auto-focus and dual-LED flash sorts things out for the image quality. The images are generally sharp, and the Macro mode is really good, delivering crisp close-ups. This phone's video capture capability is similar to that of the N73.

The phone has a touchscreen, which makes it easy to use the camera application -- it's more like the interface on the CyberShot cameras, with a touchscreen LCD. Another thing is the business card scanning feature, which works well.

If you're the kind who wants a good camera sometimes -- but otherwise, a phone to you is all about connectivity and productivity -- the P1i is a great choice. It doesn't fit the bill for the budget-conscious, but it sure does appeal with all its other features. The phone has a QWERTY keypad for quick text as well. And there's Wi-Fi as well, and great battery life that will keep the phone alive for a couple of days (if you don't use too much Wi-Fi).

The P1i also delivers exceptional music quality, and comes bundled with a 512 MB M2 card. It sells for around Rs 17,000, and that money is worth it more for the other features than for the camera -- which is nevertheless undoubtedly good.

Sony Ericsson CyberShot K790i: A Great Camera In A Phone

The winner in this segment is the evergreen Sony Ericsson CyberShot K790i. It is our choice and our suggestion to whosoever needs to be advised about a good camera phone! The K790i sells for around 10K, but its being affordable is not the only reason for our recommending it. The camera on the phone is very good -- the best 3.2MP of all the 3.2MP camera phones we've ever tested.

Built on the success of the K750i, the K790i couldn't have been a better CyberShot phone. The auto-focus delivers clarity and sharpness with the least amount of image processing. The phone has a Xenon flash -- the first phone to feature one, and it does a brilliant job of capturing images at night. Objects falling within range of the flash are captured clearly. The video possibilities with the K790i are, however, restricted to just 176 x 144.

The K790i has a face-lifted version, the K810i. This one looks better, and also has the CyberShot branding. It has the same image quality, but quite a different interface -- easy to use, with little pictures beside the options. The shortcut buttons on the phone light up when in camera mode, making it easier to shift between modes. The K810 is also slimmer, and has a much better battery life compared to the K790i.

The K790i is available for Rs 9,800 (64 MB M2), while the K810 comes for Rs 12,000 (128 MB M2).

5MP: A Camera With A phone

The 5-megapixel camera-phone war is something that is far from over. There are more phones releasing and I'm sure we will always have something better to look forward to from mobile manufacturers. From the ones that we have right now available on the stands the following are the best options you have.

Sony Ericsson CyberShot K850i

This one fits the label "more the camera than the phone" better than any I've ever seen. The auto lens cover, auto-focus, Xenon flash, and three-LED video light give it the best a camera phone could ask for to be able to deliver quality images. The interface is snappy; the sharp screen provides a clear viewfinder. The Auto and Landscape modes are decent enough -- better than those on quite a few other 5MP camera phones available.

The Night mode here is average, with the Xenon flash power dropped a bit in order to save battery. The Macro mode is brilliant -- it spells detail and sharpness. The camera is quick in Sports mode (but there some noticeable distortion). The Panorama mode (now available on other camera phones as well) has the edge: the stitching is almost flawless (if you just manage to keep a steady hand).

Video recording uses the three-LED flash, which lets you record even in the dark -- an added feature on the K850i. The resolution is 320 x 240 at 30 fps, which is better than that of the earlier CyberShot phones.

The Sony Ericsson K850i sells for around Rs 19,500 -- steep considering that the phone is, overall, not up to the mark. The keypad is not the most ergonomic, and the three touch-menu buttons are unresponsive at times. Still, this handset is worthy of consideration for its camera.

LG KU990 Viewty
The LG Viewty ties for first place in this segment with the Nokia N82. The competition is so close, it is difficult to decide. The auto-focus, Xenon flash, and the Schneider-Kreuznach lens are only just the beginning!

The Viewty is for someone who wants to try and get great images by virtue of skill, as it were. It provides manual focus and Image Stabilization (digital). The image quality you can achieve with these two turned on in Macro mode is brilliant. The other modes -- Landscape, Portrait, Sports, and Night -- also perform well enough to put the camera of the Sony Ericsson K850i behind. The large screen means a very large viewfinder, and the touch interface is intuitive.

The video recording capabilities of the LG Viewty is the best we've seen on a phone -- by far! Video can be recorded at 640 x 480 @ 30 fps, and a unique 320 x 240 pixels @ 120 fps -- slow motion video. The videos are directly encoded to DivX, making it go easier on the storage media.

This phone provides you with a very easy interface. It is a complete touch-phone built on flash OS. (The phone does get a little slow when you try multitasking, though.) The KU990 now sells for around Rs 20,000, making it a very good buy for its camera functionality as well as for the phone overall. There is an EDGE version that will soon be released -- the KE990 -- which is perfect for the Indian market, and it will be priced lower.

Nokia N82

You'll see a very impressive camera on this model, and we found it the most worthy of all the 5MP camera phones. The N82 has a Carl Zeiss lens with auto-focus and a Xenon flash. The images in most modes seemed a bit over-processed -- something we've noticed with most Nokia camera phones. They are, nevertheless, sharp, with good contrast in Portrait and Macro mode. The Sports mode is impressive, too; the Night mode is by far the best that any Nokia has achieved. The Xenon flash is sufficiently powerful.

The video quality is good -- there is no LED flash to support the night mode, though. The camera offers VGA capture resolution (640 x 480).

The N82 has a lot going for it. The camera is one of the reasons one would buy it, but it's a good phone as well. The keypad does spark some debate because of its over-sleek buttons; otherwise, the phone is light and is loaded with lots of goodies -- Wi-Fi, A-GPS, powerful stereo speakers, quality audio, and a 3.5 mm jack to connect your choice of headphones: an almost-perfect all rounder!

The phone comes with a 2 GB memory card. It sells for around Rs 20,000, and is totally worth it.