The best camera is the one you have with you, and since my new favorite point-and-shoot is built into my phone, I should be all set. When the 3GS came out last year, I was ready to say goodbye to point-and-shoots all together
. There were still a lot of situations, though, where the 3GS
was terrible (low light, of course). The iPhone changes that with the addition of a flash and another megapixel bump, putting the iPhone camera on par with all but the best in the point-and-shoot category. The fact that the camera is built into the phone is more than enough to discourage me from taking a point-and-shoot anywhere.
Obviously the camera will still shoot best in bright, natural light, like you find in North Carolina when it's almost 100 degrees. The colors are bright and vibrant, a trait most of the professional photographers I've spoken with say Apple borrowed from Nikon's processing style. It was pretty windy today, so I was surprised to see how focused the pictures of the flowers came out (still a little blurry away from the focal point). Overall, the sensor handles light well, and the camera is fast enough to catch a bit of motion.
In low light the story is still pretty grim. Even with a flash there's a lot of noise, though that's typically true of most point-and-shoots. This isn't meant for high-quality photography, though, and when viewed as most camera phone shots are these days - on Facebook - the iPhone 4 will stand up with the best your friends can offer. That's thanks to the f2.4 lens, compared with the f2.8 or above offered on most phones. It's nice to have that extra light and extra width.
On the whole, Apple's taken a decent camera and turned it into a true point-and-shoot replacement for taking quick shots on the fly. And it is quick. The limited controls are just a tap away, and there are so few (some say it's good, some say it's bad) you won't spend the precious seconds trying to find a setting. You'll snap the picture, again and again, which is exactly the point of carrying a quick and dirty camera with you wherever you go.