Myron Kassaraba's weblog about digital photography on the web

Saturday, February 07, 2004

Boston SuperBowl Riots
Northeastern uses pictures on web to help identify Super Bowl rioters.

I'm a graduate of Northeastern University and a Partiots fan and I can tell you I was not proud of my school last Sunday night when watching the riots on the news after the game. The Boston Globe reported today that Northeastern has posted pictures from those riots on their web site and is asking students for help in identifying the perpetrators. Even more interesting is that the school had anticipated this type of trouble and had given out cameras to RA's. I wonder if they were digital?

" Wary of possible rioting after the Super Bowl, officials had also planned in
advance for the photo-identification site. Before the Super Bowl, they asked
residential advisers to take pictures if trouble erupted, and some were even
loaned cameras by the school for that purpose, said spokeswoman Christine
Phelan. Many of the photos on the site, however, were donated by other students
who wanted to help the university identify those responsible" Boston Globe,
Saturday, February 7, 2004.

How would you like to be a parent paying $30K/yr. to send junior to college and you see his mug in this slideshow! This raises a whole spectrum of interesting issues. RA's armed with camera phones threatening "I'll instantly email this picture of you with a keg in your room and a joint in your mouth to your dad if you don't stop this party right now!!". Or what if there were a folder of images attached to your permanent school records? Come senior year at recruiting time "yes, Junior, we would be happy to offer you a job at Acme Technologies but first we'll need to you sign this Release so we can take a look at your photo file from the past four years". I think "cloaking" is going to be a big business in the future!

Friday, February 06, 2004

Printing Camera Phone Pictures

Who really wants camera phone pictures?

Kodak, Nokia offer printing kiosks capabilities for camera phones. From the
Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association's "Daily News" today I
learned that Kodak is expanding its printing kiosks designed for camera phones
to Thailand. Kodak, Nokia and Cingular Wireless already are working together to
enable camera phone users to transfer and print photos at thousands of Kodak
Picture Maker... [
Reiter's Camera Phone Report]

I keep looking at this and continue to scratch my head! Basically, even the best camera phone's photo quality is marginal (sure, I know in the future they are going to be higher resolution, etc.) but as I've said before, it is not just how many Mpixels you have in the sensor that determines image quality and in turn determines if a picture is printable or not. It will be a while before a multi-function phone/camera device has the same image capture quality as a well-designed $400 digital camera. We are just now starting to see $400 cameras with the right combination of optics, sensor and image processing capabilities to be a more dependable "memory capture" device.

The sweet spot in the market that is still underserved with a lack of consumer-friendly solutions are the users who own "real" digital cameras and very much want to have a physical print to stick in an album, put in a frame or mail to their friends & family. Efforts to enable camera phone to kiosk printing seems like they have "pet rock" written all over them. Now granted, I have not spent much time in Asia and this is where the majority of activity is happening (Kodak Asia site). I guess we can only wait and see since I'm sure this will be tried here in the US soon.

I still think vendors and the industry need to do a much better job of making it truly brainless to get spectacular printed photographs taken by a digital camera. Remember the first time you got a roll of film back from the Olympus Stylus you took on vacation and were blown away by how great they looked. I have yet to have that same experience with a print from a digital camera. Once or twice an image I sent to BellaMax for enhancement came out looking really great, but most of the time, the prints are OK.

Camera phones are a great thing to have in your pocket and those pictures will be shared frequently, published to the web and may be saved in the virtual lifetime shoebox, but as for printing........... what do you think? Leave a comment!