How big a deal are camera launch times?

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Cameras are one of the parts of a phone that I care about the most. I’m not a professional photographer – certainly not. But I love a camera that can quickly launch and take a solid shot of whatever I happen to point at. I don’t get into a lot of the pro options of the camera, for the same reason. Most of my shots are spontaneous, and don’t have a whole lot of time to put thought behind them. I see something that’s funny, or interesting, and I snap a shot, and go on with my life.

Well, last week, our own Jules Wang took a bold position on one of the prettiest phones of 2017, the LG G6.  Jules dinged the phone for a pretty obvious reason – camera launch lag. It led to an interesting discussion of the Pocketnow Weekly about just how important camera lag was or was not. It got me thinking about it, and here we are today.

3…2…1…Launch!

On the one hand, launching a camera quickly can be very important to your situation. I have children, and they often do cute things. But children have the attention span of a ferret on a double espresso, so if I see them doing a cute thing, chances are by the time I take a photo, they will have moved on. Love my kids by the way. So that can be super irritating if you’re a parent trying to capture your little darling at their peak of darlingness.

Plus, there are general life events that aren’t going to stop and wait for a camera to launch. Jules referenced a person in a Pokemon costume riding a bike as an example. Now, if there is anything in this world that needs to be photographed more than that, I haven’t seen it. But sure enough, by the time the camera launched, Jiggypuff, had jiggled her way around the corner. That’s a moment lost, right there, and a great reason why cameras need to be fast.

Everybody now

But let’s not just talk about cameras – all apps should launch quickly. It’s a fact that people want their phones to perform quickly as a general rule. To that end, they should also want their cameras to perform well. No one wants to wait for anything so, why should a camera be any different. Of course we all understand that nothing is going to happen instantaneously, but even a several second lag can be annoying when all you want to do is snap a quick photo of a funny sign.

And yet…

But are camera apps fully to blame here for missing a moment? Sure, a phone’s camera might launch faster than another’s. But launching the app is not the only thing standing in between you and that perfect shot. You need to take the phone out of your pocket. You need to position the phone correctly. You need to power the phone on, or trigger the camera, you need to aim, and you need to press the shutter key. All told, the launch time is a small percentage of the whole process.

And isn’t an extra second or two worth the extra benefits a great camera experience will give you? The LG G6 has one of the best camera experiences we’ve reviewed, so maybe it’s not a surprise that it’ll take an extra second or two to launch. On balance, isn’t that worth it for the extra quality you’ll get from those shots? LG wants to give you everything – all OEMs do – but corners have to be cut here and there, and perhaps the experience is what is most important, and not the Jigglypuff on a bicycle. Perhaps those key moments are the ones you already have your phone out for and are already aiming. Maybe those are where you’ll find your perfect shots.

Your turn

But what do you think? Is a slow camera a dead camera? Are you willing to wait for a better experience? Do you find yourself often whipping out your phone to capture a quick moment? Or do you prefer to savor a moment and capture the perfect shot during the perfect moment? Sound off below with your thoughts on this, and let’s see if we can figure this out.

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About The Author
Adam Doud

Adam joined the tech world after watching Jon Rubenstein demo the most epic phone ever at CES 2009. He is webOS enthusiast, Windows Phone fan, and Android skeptic. He loves the outdoors, is an avid Geocacher, Cubs/Blackhawks fan, and family man living in Sweet Home Chicago, where he STILL hosts monthly webOS meetups (Don’t call it a comeback!). He can be found tweeting all things tech as @DeadTechnology, or chi-town sports at @oneminutecubs. Read more about Adam Doud!