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Three Treo Cameras Compared

Thu Sep 21, 2006 - 11:23 AM EDT - By Jay Gross

Fixing those photos

What to do?

Problem stated, let’s look for solutions. I already have mine – the Digital Rebel weighs many times more than the Treo and doesn’t make phone calls or keep track of my appointments, but it will take pictures in even less light than this test, with or without its (ahhhhh!) built-in electronic flash.

An in-Treo solution? Well, the easy one is: turn on some lights. Even a few room lamps will boost the level enough to get a decent shot. This applies to any camera, digital or film, cheap or not, phone-bound or otherwise.

This “easy” solution has a problem of its own, however. Namely, raising the level of lighting can destroy the mood. With all its challenges and limitations, “available” light frequently makes the best pictures, particularly candid images of people doing heroic, mundane, or silly things. There’s often a quality to low light that more light will destroy. Besides, you might not have control over the lighting – although in some restaurants you might be able to order a flaming dessert. An extra couple of candles?

Fixing it in the mix

Any time I get bad or even mediocre results, I rely on image editing to try to fix the problem. Usually this works quite well, although sometimes the benefit is debatable. I tried to fix the dense mess from the 700p cradle test, and though cleaned up, if you can call it that, the Treo 650’s version remained quite noisy, but far closer to usable. The fixed-up result from the 700p is still hopeless. Taking a picture with the 700p in a dark situation is always going to require considerable effort to retrieve it from oblivion.

Decades ago, my father dragged his Brownie box camera off its high shelf for family occasions. He looked forward to those times, meticulously loading a new roll of film two or three times a year. Today, he’d whip out his Treo and yell his standard line, “Everybody say limburger!” He usually dragged everyone outside, kept the sun over his shoulder as the manuals all advised, and always used a (huge!) flash bulb on indoor shoots. He always got great pictures, too, with everyone squinting into the sun or wincing with dread in anticipation of the flash.


For snapshots in low light, the Treo 650 does the best job, in spite of low resolution. Its fuzzy images can be rescued from oblivion with some image processing (most of the time), but it shoots adequate pixel counts for emails and not much else.

The 700w comes in second, especially if you’ll tolerate the noisy, washed out look of its images that have “brightness” bumped up. All but the darkest of these are probably rescue-able with image processing.

The Treo 700p brings up the rear. I don’t yet have a 700wx to test, but its camera’s technical specifications are the same as the 700w.

Can you depend on any of them for all photographic situations? The answer is, unfortunately, no. Maybe next model. Or the one after.

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