Many of today’s newest portable devices (phones/tablets) are equipped with a built-in camera. This makes it very easy to take pictures on the fly wherever you may be at. For home inspectors, it offers the potential to be able to use a single device for collecting inspection information, taking pictures, and adding the pictures directly into the report. Being able to do this can cut down on hours of extra work currently spent adding pictures into reports after the fact. However, just because your device has a built in camera does not mean it will give you what you need to take pictures for your reports.
Below are things to keep in mind when deciding whether or not a built-in camera will work for your inspections:
• Camera Quality – Devices vary in the quality of their cameras with some offering 1-3 MP cameras, while others have up to 8 MP. It is also important to realize that not all cameras are created equal. The camera quality between two devices that both have a 5 MP camera can vary greatly. Lens quality also greatly impacts the overall quality of the camera.
• Picture Quality – How do the pictures actually turn out? It is important to confirm that the pictures you take with a device not only look good when viewing them on the device, but also when looking at a larger version of them on a PC. It will be up to you to determine if the picture quality meets your standards.
• Flash – Is there a flash? If not, what will you do when taking pictures in crawl spaces or in the attic? If there is a flash, is it good enough to let you take the pictures you need? Many devices do not include a built-in flash, while others do. The HTC Inspire (shown above) is an example of a device that does have built-in flash.
• Backup Camera – As a device gets more use in the field, there is a greater chance of dropping it, breaking it, or possibly having the battery run low. If the device you are using for inspections and picture taking has an issue, how will you take pictures? It is recommended that you have a backup camera with you on your inspections.
• Additional Features/Options to Consider
o Can you change the picture quality (increase decrease the resolution of pictures you are taking)?
o Can you adjust the camera when taking pictures in the low light settings you may encounter on an inspection?
o Is there a zoom? How good is the zoom?
o Is there an auto focus? How well does it work?
Here are a few things you can do to determine if a device’s built-in camera will meet your needs.
• If you already own the device, then do a mock inspection on your house using the built in camera and see if you are able to take all of the pictures you would need.
• If you don’t own the device, see if there is a local store that will let you put your hands on it and take a few pictures to see how they come out.
• Read through online reviews to learn from device users how their experience has been with it.
• Look at device specs and make sure that you are clear what they mean so that you are able to do accurate comparisons between devices.