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Media (Apple) Input Devices

How the iPod Nano's Video Abilities Stack Up 216

Posted by timothy
from the now-equipped-for-one-night-stands dept.
andylim writes "Recombu.com has pitted the iPod Nano's video capabilities against an iPhone 3GS, a Nokia 5530 XpressMusic and Flip Mino HD. This simple test shows how the camera deals with motion, colour and audio. The iPod Nano's camera seems to offer a basic yet decent video experience and some might say delivers a higher picture quality than the iPhone 3GS's camera. What's interesting is how well it deals with close-ups."
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How the iPod Nano's Video Abilities Stack Up

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  • by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday September 14, 2009 @06:59PM (#29420811) Homepage

    I would sure love to have a "real" camera from Apple. Strap some proper optics to the iPhone platform and you've got a killer product: photos automatically GPS tagged and seamlessly uploaded in the background to your iphoto library, with support via apps for any kind of online hosting, plus specialty stuff like time lapse or other artistic/scientific needs. Full HD video of course, perhaps even with wifi streaming to an apple TV for instant nostalgia. Price it to compete with entry level DSLR and they would capture a huge chunk of market share overnight. Maybe not the volume of the cell phone market, but great margins.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:08PM (#29420889)

      I'm not so sure, considering that probably most people who are willing to spend the money on a DSLR camera, WANT a DSLR.
      It likely wouldn't sell well enough to be viable as a product.

      • by FSWKU (551325)

        I'm not so sure, considering that probably most people who are willing to spend the money on a DSLR camera, WANT a DSLR. It likely wouldn't sell well enough to be viable as a product.

        If it were any other company, you would be correct. However, this is Apple. They would not only make it a viable product, but the Reality Distortion Field would ensure that everyone who sees it believes it to be the second coming of Christ in camera form. They would line up outside Apple stores days in advance for a CHANCE to

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:08PM (#29420893)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_QuickTake

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by TheGreenNuke (1612943)
      I disagree. I would love to see some form of portable electronic NOT include a camera. I can't take a camera into work. That limits me to crappy cell phones. Now i'll have to worry about what mp3 player I can get too. Why does everything need a damn camera.
      • by WillyDavidK (977353) on Monday September 14, 2009 @08:14PM (#29421351)
        The camera is almost always contained in its own module, meaning it can be removed for people in your situation. The only problem is the nano is not very easy to get into. The iPhone, however is a synch to open, so you could still use one and just pop the camera out.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by TheGreenNuke (1612943)
          Not true. It's been tried. Still not allowed. The rationale is if I can take it out, I can just as easily put one back in. It's been beaten like a dead horse where I work (Defense Contractor). They trust us with a security clearance but not enough to think we won't put a camera back in after it's been removed.
          • by mlts (1038732) *

            I know Apple has on their website a security document stating that all their computers have the ability to have the camera, wireless network, or Bluetooth antenna pulled for environments where devices like that are forbidden. Pretty much it states to take the device into an Apple facility and they do the rest.

            Not sure if this is available for the Nano though.

            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by TheGreenNuke (1612943)
              Missed the point again. This time I'll change my words. If the camera can be removed it means the camera can be reinserted, and thus not allowed on site. Unless they change the casing to have no cutout for a camera, I can't have it on site, no matter if I remove the camera, Apple removes the camera, or the director of security at the site removes the camera. If it has a slot to plug in a camera, and a cutout for the lens, it's a no go.
      • by Chrisje (471362)

        I couldn't agree more, but not for security's sake. A damn camera in a phone/ipod is:

        1) Useless due to the lack of quality.
        2) Useless due to the lack of speed.
        (1 and 2 illustrate why I don't touch anything but SLR's)
        3) A nuisance. Now I'm stuck with all of the trite and uninspired snapshots everyone and their uncle from 8 to 80 take and post on bloody FB all the time.
        4) Just another component that might get dirty/broken.
        5) More code to usurp the CPU/RAM or clutter the OS of the device in question.
        6) Another

    • by pecosdave (536896) *

      I would say the iPhone already competes in price with an entry level DSLR - without the good picture taking ability.

    • by speedtux (1307149) on Monday September 14, 2009 @08:13PM (#29421347)

      I would sure love to have a "real" camera from Apple.

      Samsung, Nokia, and several other manufacturers already offer 5-8 Mpixel cameras with smart phone capabilities. They have automatic geo-tagging and automatic upload. You can get these phones with Symbian, Android, Windows Mobile, and (soon) Linux/Maemo. You can program them in C, C++, Java, and, in some cases, Python and C#. Samsung even has HD video.

      I don't see anything that Apple brings to the table. Apple's iPhone already costs more than twice than what those other phones cost, it's less capable, has worse battery life, can only be programmed in Apple-approved languages, and has severe restrictions on the kind of software you can write for it. And Apple's overall market share is small compared to Symbian.

      Price it to compete with entry level DSLR

      An unlocked iPhone 3GS without a two year contract already costs around $1400, about three times the price of an entry-level DSLR (if you buy it with a contract, you pay the same, it's just hidden in your monthly fees).

      • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <{taiki} {at} {cox.net}> on Monday September 14, 2009 @08:54PM (#29421609)

        I don't see anything that Apple brings to the table. Apple's iPhone already costs more than twice than what those other phones cost, it's less capable, has worse battery life, can only be programmed in Apple-approved languages, and has severe restrictions on the kind of software you can write for it. And Apple's overall market share is small compared to Symbian.

        The real question about the market share of Symbian is, how many Symbian users *want* to be Symbian users? Out of the ~%47 or so, how many of them actually break into their phone's full features beyond camera, music and phone? Given the rates of users who are regular bluetooth users versus users who aren't, I'd be surprised if even 10% of Symbian users are of the variety, "Oh this thing? It's the crappy phone Verizon/AT&T/Sprint/Tmobile gave me for free."

        An unlocked iPhone 3GS without a two year contract already costs around $1400, about three times the price of an entry-level DSLR (if you buy it with a contract, you pay the same, it's just hidden in your monthly fees).

        I sure hope you're not citing a number that's not USD. In USD, the cost for an unlocked iPhone is $599.

        • by speedtux (1307149)

          I sure hope you're not citing a number that's not USD. In USD, the cost for an unlocked iPhone is $599.

          AFAIK, there are officially no unlocked, no-contract iPhone 3GS being sold at all in the US. You can get them in Europe, and they cost about EU 950.

          I'd be surprised if even 10% of Symbian users are of the variety, "Oh this thing? It's the crappy phone Verizon/AT&T/Sprint/Tmobile gave me for free.

          I don't know of any US carrier that has "free" Symbian phones; the phones you're thinking of are Nokia's lo

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            You can get them in Europe, and they cost about EU 950.

            I think you'll find they're significantly less [mobistar.be]...

            -- Pete.

          • by mjwx (966435)

            The phones we're talking about here are phones like the E71, E90, N95, N86, etc. People who shell out hundreds of dollars to buy them know why they're doing it: great cameras, user installable apps, tethering, etc. The user interface on those phones is not as sexy as the iPhone, but in terms of capabilities and quality, they run rings around the iPhone.

            Can confirm this, the E71 runs rings around the iphone and is about half the price on our corporate plan, given the fact that Apple just broke exchange on

      • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Monday September 14, 2009 @09:14PM (#29421703)

        "An unlocked iPhone 3GS without a two year contract already costs around $1400, about three times the price of an entry-level DSLR (if you buy it with a contract, you pay the same, it's just hidden in your monthly fees)."

        Really? Can you move some at that price? I'll supply them to you for $1200. That's $200 you get to keep, for each one.

        • by speedtux (1307149)

          Well, if you're trying to suggest that you can get an unlocked iPhone for less (i.e., an original US iPhone that has never been locked, as opposed to an iPhone that was bought locked and then unlocked), please let us know where.

          The only original, Apple-supplied, unlocked iPhones I know of ship in Europe, and they are really expensive.

          (Of course, even at $600, a price bandied around here, they are still much more expensive than an entry-level DSLR.)

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        PS: I don't know what the OP meant by "real camera" but the Nokia et. al. high res camera phones aren't real cameras. They're camera phones with an insanely mismatched sensor.

        Last time someone raised that point on here I put up a picture from a real camera sized to compare with his 5 MP Nokia shot. There was no comparison. Unfortunately I think I took it down.

      • You obviously have different needs to the average user.

        As far as I'm concerned, Apple's iPhone is the only usable phone for me on the market. I'd been waiting for a decent phone for years. Now I finally have it: notes, address book, calendaring, email, SMS, all in one usable package. All previous mobile phones and PDAs I've had over the years have been average at best, and usability trainwrecks at worst. Samsung, Panasonic, Sony Ericsson, Dell Axim, Nokia, Palm: you were what I used and had to put up with,

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Me! Me! 42 (1153289)
      Stop with the recreational drug use!
      You can't get even "entry level" DSLR quality from a phone sized package. Big glass and a large sensor are the barrier to entry and a quarter inch phone body will never have it!
      Mid level point and shoot? Almost, but not quite.
    • by donweel (304991)
      I have no us for a camera on my iPod, but I don't mind the idea of an iPod on my camera. I have used my iPod classic as a camera drive, I was disappointed when the new generation iPods lost that ability. I could see a camera with iPod interface. Clip it on for wifi, Geo-Tagging, Photo display, extra storage. With the software and the IPod App store possibilities are endless.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      That'd be pretty neat. It's kind of embarrassing to Apple as things stand with their cameras only being 3 megapixel, with a crappy lens, when there are 5 megapixel WinMo phones out there in a similar price range that also have a markedly better glass lens. 3MP with a crappy lens doesn't do all that much for me.

      Likewise, the screens on the iPhones. Compared to WinMo offerings, they're quite a bit lower res to what's available with a WinMo phone.

    • by hazydave (96747) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @01:01AM (#29422907)

      So, you're suggesting Apple get into the business, and produce a few dozen lenses to go with their DSLR? If not, there's zero point in building a DSLR... not that Apple would be taken seriously.

      That's also not a market that Apple would be or should be interested. Keep in mind that over 80% of the DSLR market is owned by Canon (41%) and Nikon (40%).. they're the guys who make those dozens of lenses and accessories that make the DSLR worth the price in the first place. The rest is being sliced up between Pentax, Olympus (6%), Fujifilm, Sony (6%.. they're one of the big four in high-end video cameras... the bought up what was Minolta-Konica's SLR works), just recently Panasonic (they're one of the other major powers in high-end video cameras, along with Canon and JVC), and a few others in specialty markets (Leica, Ricoh, Hasselblad). Serious users aren't likely to buy a DSLR from an electronics company without years of proof in the business.. that's why some of video camera companies compete, but few of the other film or CE companies who make digital P&S models (Casio, Epson, HP, Kodak, etc).

      The global market for DSLRs in 2010 is expected to be a bit under 12 million units (that's an estimated 9% growth in DSLR shipments)... so that's 4.92 million Canons, 4.8 million Nikons, and 2.28 million left for everyone else to fight over. Do you really think that's an iPod-like market? Apple sells nearly twice that number of iPods... every MONTH.

      No, Apple's doing the right thing here... "embrace and extend". They made a decent MP3 player, but really made the sale by delivering the iTunes store. Lots of people make better MP3 players, so Apple pushed in photos, then video. Lots of people came out with better PMPs, so Apple added PDA function, and a phone. Now they toss in a "free" webcam (some prespective here.. this is a crappy, crappy camera for any serious use, but it's fine for the kids buying crappy Flip cameras and delivering video only for Facebook and Youtube) and push the iPod/iPhone as a gaming platform, taking on the Sony PSP and the Nintendo DS. That's the smart thing... that's a $1.00 camera added to the basic stuff the iPod already has. Not a couple of billion to develop a line of lenses no one will ever buy.

      Certainly, such "free" cameras will get better over the year, but the iPod is competing directly with the "Flip" and other web-cam + flash units, and to an extent with cell phone cameras. They aren't even close to being as good as a modern point-and-shoot model from Canon, Panasonic, Sony, Nikon, or many others. And they never will be.

    • by Chrisje (471362)

      Slapping "some proper optics" onto an iPhone would look very odd. I'm not sure how a 20 cm long lens with a base of 5 cm diameter and a weight of 700 grams would look on an iPhone, not to mention a 1.5 kg 70-200 2.8 lens.

      All joking aside, the lens is only one thing. Then you get to the size of the chip, AF speeds and obviously all image processing software needed for a good camera. There are solid reasons why DSLR's cost what they cost, and I don't think the iPhone or Apple will ever move in on that market.

    • by martinX (672498)
      Given that I could see a bit of a CMOS wobble in both the Nano and iPhone footage (first clips), I don't think Apple is quite ready to take on Canon, Nikon et al. The sound was great in the nano, though. Love to have one.
    • by mdwh2 (535323) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @08:19AM (#29425245) Journal

      I would sure love to have a "real" camera from Nokia. Strap some proper optics to the Nokia Phone platform and you've got a killer product: photos automatically GPS tagged and seamlessly uploaded in the background to your photo library, with support via apps for any kind of online hosting, plus specialty stuff like time lapse or other artistic/scientific needs. Full HD video of course, perhaps even with wifi streaming to a TV for instant nostalgia. Price it to compete with entry level DSLR and they would capture a huge chunk of market share overnight. Maybe not the volume of the cell phone market, but great margins.

      See? What's special about Apple here? If we're allowed to make up products, then it would be great if Amiga were to release a new quad-core Intel machine with the latest NVIDIA graphics, with 8GB RAM, and priced the same as a netbook. It'll capture a huge chunk of the market share overnight.

      Aren't we such geniuses - why on earth aren't companies hiring us for our great ideas like these?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:03PM (#29420841)

    Shot some impromptu amateur porn with one today, and all the important bits look fine. I'm 100% serious, the mood came upon us and it was handy. It's not 1080p, but as the old saying goes, the best camera is the one you have with you when you need it. :)

  • When it comes to taking video the limiting factor on video quality/resolution in a handheld device is almost always the processing power needed to encode said video in realtime, not the optics, which is why most phones with 5+MP cameras can save pictures at the full resolution of the CCD but videos are often limited to 640x480 at 25fps because that is all the processor can handle. For example my netbook with 1.3MP webcam takes far better quality videos than my sony ericsson phone with 5MP camera simply bec
    • by dangitman (862676) on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:59PM (#29421269)

      When it comes to taking video the limiting factor on video quality/resolution in a handheld device is almost always the processing power needed to encode said video in realtime, not the optics,

      Nonsense. The encoding part is becoming trivial with modern processors. But a tiny sensor and pinhole-sized lens will always be problematic. There's a reason that pro video cameras have big lenses and sensors. How do you do selective focus with a pinhole lens that puts everything sort-of-in-focus? You can't. How do you get low light performance with a lens that doesn't admit much light? You boost the gain electronically, ruining the picture quality.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem isn't processing power, it's sensor readout speed. Most CCD or CMOS chips don't have a huge bandwidth, so even high-end cameras like the EOS 5D II are forced to use only a small portion of its millions of pixels (this leads to nasty artefacts like aliasing and increased noise). Also, on CMOS sensors you want to avoid using all the bandwidth for transferring video, because otherwise you get a significant rolling shutter ("jell-o") effect. Even good cameras like EOS 5D II have a huge jell-o effect

    • I like how this is modded informative when it's completely wrong, while the correction below isn't even modded.

  • by skyride (1436439) on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:16PM (#29420971)
    Its an MP3 player... Why the fuck does it have a camera on it?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:26PM (#29421041)

      Its so it can be sold in Britain. Haven't you heard the new regulations yet? Absolutely everything in Britain must have a camera on it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by ProfM (91314)

        Absolutely everything in Britain must have a camera on it.

        So my brand new Digital SLR camera must have a cheap-ass digital camera built in?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by speedtux (1307149)

      Why not? Having a camera with you at all times is kind of nice, and building it into the MP3 player means you don't need to carry an extra gadget.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by WillyDavidK (977353)
        if you have an mp3 player (or an iPod particularly), you probably also have a camera phone
        • by mgblst (80109)

          Unless you are a little kid.

        • by wisty (1335733)

          I have an iPod, and a cheap nasty Nokia phone. I want my MP3 to be fun to use, but I want my phone to actually work. Expensive phones tend to die after a day of use, which is just annoying.

        • True, but maybe Apple thinks it can compete with your camera phone in usability terms. If your phone camera is a pain to use but your iPod camera is easy to use, then you're going to reach for your iPod camera first.

    • by MrMista_B (891430)

      Well, why not?

    • by dangitman (862676)

      Uhh, why not?

      These things have had photo and video viewers, calendars and contacts, etc for quite some time now. You may as well ask why phones have cameras. An iPod is a media-driven device, so it almost makes more sense to have it there than in a phone.

      On a practical level - your young children want music players, and they probably want cameras too. Why not have both, and not have to sign up for some onerous mobile phone plan.

    • by khchung (462899) on Monday September 14, 2009 @09:00PM (#29421641) Journal

      How about, because people find it convenient?

      When you are already carrying a gadget around, with enough battery power, gobs of free memory available and enough processing power, is it that much a leap to put a camera on it?

      I assume you don't have kids, because if you do, you would know that parents (surprise!) like their kids and will take lots of pictures/videos of them if only they have a camera handy. Some parents take to always carry a small camera, and would appreciate if their iPod can take pictures so they don't have to carry another gadget.

      Personally, I found that after I got a phone with a camera, I took many more pictures. It is just like texting and sending email, you would never know how often people would do it until you give them the ability to do so easily.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Because the world has decided putting videos of yourself puking on YouTube is the killer app for our modern technology.

      • by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @02:13AM (#29423207) Homepage Journal

        Because the world has decided putting videos of yourself puking on YouTube is the killer app for our modern technology.

        Oh, get off of your high horse. The whole world except you has decided that having fun is a great way of spending time. As for what's considered fun, well... *shrugs*

        I've had fun shooting impromptu videos of me and the girlfriend on holiday, going to the beach, playing with my nephew, etc. And then sharing it with friends, and the world as a side incident. Apple/YouTube enables this and I think it's great.

    • It was an mp3 player. Now it's also a video player, radio, recording device, and video camera. Have you stopped to wonder what is wrong with adding functionality to this or any device? It's still as small as ever, the user interface hasn't been bogged down and bloated, and now it's got another use if you're jogging and feel the need to record a reminder or something. Better have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    • Its an MP3 player... Why the fuck does it have a camera on it?

      The ipod is just keeping up with cellphones. Pretty soon, it'll even let you make phone calls! Sure, the iPhone already does, but why not have the iPod do it as well?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by citizenr (871508)
      Youtube generation. Too young to own a cellphone.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Actual comparable sequences would be nice. For example, the iPod Nano appears to be more strongly affected by rolling shutter than the other cams, but it's hard to tell because the motion is different between the devices. (Rolling shutter is when the pixels are not all read at the same time but one row at a time, without a fast shutter stopping light from changing the picture on pixels which haven't been read yet while other pixels are already fixed by the read-out. This causes a wobbling effect for up-down

  • My impressions (Score:5, Informative)

    by dbet (1607261) on Monday September 14, 2009 @07:32PM (#29421083)
    I picked up a nano a couple days ago to replace an older one. The camera is kind of nice but I'm not sure it will get much use. The picture is very nice looking, colors seem okay both indoors and out, and motion is handled well. The "biggest" plus however is the size. The nano is so small I feel like I'm holding a credit card. I'm still in the market for a good case because the current ones out are pretty poor. A case should make it a bit less delicate.

    There is a tendency to cover the lens with your finger because the ipod itself is so small, but you eventually get used to holding it a different way. The microphone and speaker are also somewhat poor but they told you it would be.

    Overall it's very nice for its price, and the live-pause radio is a nice touch. The screen is also nearly the size of the one on the classic (same width, about 80% as tall) in case you want to watch podcasts or something. I've put some TV shows on mine, they play and look good. I wouldn't buy this however if I were looking for a camcorder primarily.
    • by w0mprat (1317953)
      I wonder if making singular devices do more and more tasks otherwise performed by individual is actually going to come back and hurt companies like Apple. Many people don't see the point of a camera in a Nano or a Touch, as they may also own a digital camera, a cellphone with a camera, or even an iPhone.

      I fear I'll wind up with every device I own having a camera, wi-fi, 3G and video playback that works acceptably, Yet I'll have no specialised devices that will do any one of these things very well.

      I ca
    • Try OtterBox cases. They're pretty much indestructible for all basic needs, airtight so dust and water stay out, etc.

      They have a 4th gen version out right now. The "Armor" version, the most expensive one, is the one you want if you're looking for something heavily durable. I have a 2nd Gen nano case and it's utterly fantastic. I've swam with it and everything.

      www.otterbox.com

  • by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Monday September 14, 2009 @08:22PM (#29421407)
    I got hung up on wondering who the hell buys canned meatballs in gravy and canned mackerel in brine.
  • wow (Score:4, Informative)

    by TRRosen (720617) on Monday September 14, 2009 @08:24PM (#29421427)

    I'm really surprised how poorly the HD did. Motion was poor and close ups were horrible. You do see quite a difference in calmer shots however the HD really looks much better then. Looking at the price I can't see any reason to buy the regular mino however the HD is still better if your not doing action or close ups. wont replace a $400 sony but for something you can keep in your pocket 24/7 and you wont cry if you destroy/lose it does actually rock.

    many people have said that the mino would be better because it has a bigger lens but if you look closly at one most of that big round lens is superficial with the real lens being the same size as the iPods.

  • And interesting that the Nano seems better than the iPhone overall, especially in closeups. But the real question is, which is best for shooting upskirts on Japanese escalators? My, uh, friend wants to know.

  • by Tibor the Hun (143056) on Monday September 14, 2009 @09:28PM (#29421797)

    I'd like to strap one on to my motorcycle helmet and record my trips. I could then report the assholes texting, analyze the moves, etc. Nano wold work a lot better, sizewise, than a mino.

  • by timholman (71886) on Monday September 14, 2009 @09:42PM (#29421871)

    After seeing what the new Nano is capable of, I can't help but think how easy it would be to turn it on and let it just record your life for 8 or 16 hours at a time. It's so small that you could easily carry it in such a way that the camera lens would be exposed, but the rest of the Nano would be hidden.

    I've had plenty of incidents in my life when something interesting happens and afterwards I say "If only I'd had a videocamera with me." So now with the Nano, why not just record my entire day, download anything of interest, then start all over again the next morning? That way I'm never caught off guard. Anything I see, my Nano sees, and I have a permanent record.

    The new Nano isn't just an MP3 player - it is a very inexpensive and compact video surveillance device. For a lot of people it will be worth buying just for that feature alone. The only questions are how long the battery will last in video record mode, and whether the screen can be shut off during recording.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by CAIMLAS (41445)

      I don't know where you live, but the most likely places a geek is to live in the US all have pretty draconian 'wiretapping' laws which would make that activity highly illegal.

  • Can it read email? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flink (18449) on Tuesday September 15, 2009 @12:06AM (#29422651)

    Is this a corollary to the old adage about software bloat: "a piece of software will gain features until it is capable of reading email"?

    "A piece of consumer electronics will gain features until it can take digital photographs".

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