Death of the camera?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by compuwar, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. compuwar macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #1
    Apple's second patent on mounting lenses to phones has been approved. We all know that the cell phone camera has almost killed the once-booming consumer point and shoot market. Will the MILP speed the demise of the MILC? We're in contraction for digital camera sales, and if cell phone cameras get interchangeable lenses as a normal feature, the only issue remaining is sensor size. Cell cameras are "good enough" for most people, so if we assume sensor size becomes the main issue, then are FF sensor cameras going to win what's left of the specialized camera market? End of the fiscal year is quickly approaching for most of the camera manufacturers. There have been a lot of downward adjustments in the numbers- the smart money is betting on at least one vendor exiting the market this year or next.

    Will the next iPhone or two hasten this?

    Paul
     
  2. Meister Suspended

    Meister

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    #2
    I have yet to see a cellphone camera that produces acceptable results.
     
  3. DirtySocks85 macrumors 65816

    DirtySocks85

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    #3
    I'm fine with the cannibalism of the P&S market due to smartphones, because in most cases people are actually getting better photos with a smartphone than a P&S for what each is designed for. P&S cameras are designed and marketed for people who just want to get some snapshots of the things that matter to them in life; the more feature heavy it gets, the more chance they have to screw it up. iOS and Android both have default camera apps that are dead simple to use. The other advantage that comes out of this is the ability to hand your phone to a stranger at an event and ask them to take a photo of you and your friends/family - most of them will know exactly how to take a photo, because they have a similar device in their own pocket.

    However, when it comes to the next level of photography beyond that, I think that the DSLR (and other similar camera formats) still has a place, and will for quite some time. It comes down to more than glass and sensors. It comes down to tactile controls for ease of changing settings hands free. It comes down to form factor, and how holding a good grip on the camera and looking through a viewfinder helps you get a good stable/steady image. It comes down to all sorts of things that have been refined for years and years by photographers and camera companies.

    Can we have an all in one device that handles everything our smartphones currently do, plus serves as our primary camera? Sure, someday. Do I think that day will be coming soon? Nope.
     
  4. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #4
    Probably. I think the sector was dying anyway, trapped between bigger/better phone cameras and the falling price of entry level DSLRs.

    EDIT: and everything that DirtySocks85said. Particularly the bit about form factor. But excluding the conclusion. Unless they start building telephony into proper camera bodies, of course :)
     
  5. nburwell macrumors 68040

    nburwell

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    #5
    I honestly have not owned a P&S camera since the first iPhone was introduced back in 2007. Since then, my iPhone has been the one and only pocket camera that I need. I'm a serious hobbyist when it comes to photography. I'm a big fan of astrophotography and the night sky. Do I ever think the iPhone will one day be able to capture the night sky like my D800 does, sure. But who knows when that will be. And plus, I will always prefer my DSLR when I want to make large prints or when quality is of the utmost importance.

    For me, the iPhone is great when I'm out with friends, or simply taking silly pictures. However, when I want quality, the first thing I grab is my DSLR body and lenses. Over the past couple of years, I have seen a lot more people with DSLR's in their hands. Granted, they are mainly entry level DSLR's, but when I was on a cruise last year, I can say that the majority of cameras that passengers had were evenly split between smartphone's and DSLR's.

    While I don't think the P&S genre is dying, it certainly has taken quite a big hit since smartphone's were introduced.
     
  6. DirtySocks85 macrumors 65816

    DirtySocks85

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    #6
    Can you expand on which part of the conclusion you disagree with, and why? I'm unclear as to whether you don't think that they will ever combine those devices, or if it's that it will come sooner, rather than later?

    Note: I suppose I should clarify, I'm still talking about entry/consumer level DSLRs. I don't think dedicated equipment for professional/very serious hobbyists is going anywhere (pretty much ever).
     
  7. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #7
    It was the suggestion that one day the phone will 'serve as our primary camera'. I guess this depends upon one's definition of 'primary'. I initially interpreted it as 'only/best', but on reflection I think you meant 'main / most frequent'.

    I'm sure that people are happy to rely their phone camera for casual use, and will only take a large/heavy bridge/MILC/DSLR with them when they anticipate there being a subject worthy of 'photography'. Equally, given the ever-increasing price of phones, we have a couple of (rather nice) ageing FinePix F70EXRs which we'll take out to events where there's a possibility of damage/theft.

    I admit I know very little about the physics of photography how can a phone admit sufficient light or have a large enough sensor to rival even the cheapest DSLR, unless it grows to a distinctly unphoneish bulk? And where will my three dials and seventeen buttons go?
     
  8. fa8362 macrumors 65816

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    #8
    I would never, ever use one, so I doubt other serious photographers would either.
     
  9. robgendreau macrumors 68030

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    #9
    Maybe. But the point and shoot market is moving sideways in response to the phones.

    An example might be the Panasonic ZS40. A superzoom P&S that can do a 30x magnification, or the FZ200 that can has a 2.8 aperture over the same zoom range. I once owned cameras with interchangeable lenses, but I could never afford something with that kinda zoom and performance, let along carry it around on trips. And to the point here, no cellphone can take pictures of outdoors stuff very well. They almost all come with very wide lenses. So for outdoor enthusiasts, there's a niche for stuff like the superzooms.

    There are also niches for waterproof cameras like Canon's D series.

    Or video; GoPro seems to be doing OK.

    There are lots of people like me that like to do more than just take snapshots like an old Brownie or Instamatic would. And many of us are stepping down from the expense and hassle of SLRs since the P&Ss and/or mirrorless cameras are more affordable and all you need if your publishing consists of going on the web. So I think reports of their demise are premature.

    And there's some movement the other way: somebody make a camera that came equipped with Android. Kinda surprised Apple hasn't made a camera with iOS. And of course there's those Sony lenses/camera attachments to phones, although I think they're way too pricey.
     
  10. Ubele macrumors 6502a

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    #10
    I started as a kid with a film-based pocket instamatic, then upgraded to a 35 mm SLR, then switched to digital point-and-shoots because they were smaller and lighter, and then relied primarily on my iPhone 4/5 because I always have it with me and the quality is good enough for snapshots. However, I'd always take my digital P&S when I went out specifically to take pictures, because of the 200 mm zoom lens and the aperture and shutter priority controls. Last year, I bought a Sony NEX 6, because I wanted to get back into more serious photography and have the flexibility of interchangable lenses.

    The only way I'd ever have an iPhone as my only camera would be if it were capable of doing all or most of what a good MILC or DSLR can do. I don't know whether the laws of optical physics allow that. I also wonder who the market for interchangable lenses for an iPhone would be. Such lenses would diminish one of the primary benefits of the iPhone camera: the convenience of pulling it out of your pocket or purse and quickly taking a photo. How many people would be willing to fiddle with a bag of lenses? I don't think most people would want to, and those who would be okay with it would be interested only if the quality were good enough to rival that of the ILCs they already have.

    Cell phone cameras probably will kill P&S cameras eventually, but only when they can capture an image that you can crop to the field of view of a 200 mm P&S optical zoom lens and have the same level of detail. My iPhone 5 is worthless for most wildlife shots, because I can't get close to my subjects. Controlling depth of field is another thing that might be difficult to achieve with a cell phone camera, but who knows? ("You asked for great bokeh. We heard you. Now the eyes have it: the revolutionary iPhone 8S.")

    I'm sure there will always be a market for high-end cameras for pros and enthusiasts, and I'm guessing it will be dominated by full-frame mirrorless ILCs, once the prices drop more and the gaps between mirrorless and DSLR (e.g., autofocus speed) close, which they're doing. At that point, the only advantage of crop-sensor cameras that I can see is smaller, lighter, and cheaper lenses.
     
  11. neutrino23 macrumors 68000

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    #11
    Death of the camera is too strong a statement. Reduction of the market is more appropriate.

    Professionals will always need and use pro grade equipment. The same goes for prosumers. If you want to get a really nice image you will need larger glass and better sensors.

    I do see the DSLR business losing the "aspirational" customer. These are the people who don't really need fancy equipment but buy it because it looks cool. The guy who reviews all the specs and shooting modes but only uses it in fully automatic mode.

    That will be hard on the camera makers. Contraction is hard. Maybe we'll lose a few brands.

    On the other hand, I think the future looks good for both platforms. I'm excited to see Apple get serious about a way to mount an external lens. Presumably that means they will be careful about aligning their lens so that the external lens will share the same optical axis. I currently carry around a 2x, 4x and macro lens for the iPhone. These are inexpensive gadgets from USBfever but they work well enough for simple documentation.

    On the other hand, it is clear that future cameras will be integrated with our phones and iPads. I want a live view from my Canon on my iPad from which I can take a photo and then send it off somewhere over the internet. In addition, the on board computers in a DSLR are becoming extremely capable which will improve the ability to quickly focus and maybe perform high quality, tasteful HDR.
     
  12. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    #12
    It will take at least 3 centuries for smartphones to take photos on the level of those you see in Sports Illustrated today.
    And by then DSLR image quality would have had 3 centuries' worth of improvements, too.
     
  13. blanka macrumors 68000

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    #13
    I aim at smaller glass, especially with ISO 1600 being as good as 100 a few years ago.
    1 or 2 stops below the fastest lens is often the much better compromise. Lens design is much easier at a small scale: less distortion, less aberation, less vignetting, sharper..... less aggressive towards the model (fallus-factor is less), and way better for the wallet.
    I have a 2.8 85mm and it totally destroys any lens attempt at 1.2-1.4 F-stop on the IQ. Even the bokeh is nicer, and I get even less DOF as it focusses much closer.
     
  14. themumu macrumors 6502a

    themumu

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    #14
    Far from death, but more of a reform, if not a full blown renaissance. Entire categories in the photo/video industry are being changed, redefined, born and destroyed. Several years ago few would have predicted that dedicated P&S cameras will go away, but there are new markets opening up for those willing to enter them. The same years ago few would have predicted the rise of the small rugged cameras like GoPro. Sony gets it - they know the days of their compacts are numbered, so they went head on into the action camera market - and their entry is quite worthy!

    The other day I was doing some motorcycle maintenance and using my phone as a flashlight and camera. Since the phone is so thin with the lens so close to the edge, it is possible to stick it in places a regular flashlight and camera would not dare enter. For better or for worse :).
     
  15. Apple fanboy macrumors P6

    Apple fanboy

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    #15
    I'm not sure we will have smartphones in 2314!
     
  16. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #16
  17. Prodo123 macrumors 68020

    Prodo123

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    #17
  18. paolo- macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    I personally think that patent was defensive. You know, some idea they were joking about and they decided to the patent. That way, other companies can't have it and they can defend the few companies that are making lens accessories for the iPhone from patent trolls.

    I don't really see it taking off. Keeping the phone and camera assembly small would be really hard while providing a decent quality. I think the multiple camera system makes more sense as the next step for phone cameras. They offer lots of the advantages of a larger sensor and different lenses in some cases without the bulk.

    However, as phones get better cameras, there's no doubt in my mind that the cheap P&S market will continue to shrink. With that said, with the proliferation of these devices, so has social media and personal content delivery. It seems to me like there's more people interested in photography, video/cinematography, music production... simply because the technology is cheap enough to take the plunge and the channels exist to share your work.

    There's more people into photography and videography either as a personal interest or as part of their profession. It now makes sense for bartenders, cooks, hairdressers, architects... to take pictures and share them. The market is there and is growing if anything.

    Even if sensor size and ergonomics are the last thing that would separate phones from proper camera, they are huge. Top dedicated cameras can take pictures by candle light and have video quality that approaches cinema stuff, on the other hand, iPhone pictures start to get grainy as soon as it's indoors, not to mention creative freedom and usability. The general population is renewing its interest in photography that was lost in the early 2000's with P&S digicams, it's time for the MILC to grow. The vendors need to be aggressive, educate, don't cram feature but offer good value and please make phone integration seamless.

    I think the MILC camera can fit into more people lives than DSLRs. You cary your phone with you everyday, get snapshots and a worthy shot every once in a while, you use it mainly as a documentation tool. You might own a small MILC camera with a few lenses that takes amazing picture and video. You can easily carry it with you when you do expect to have something to take a shot of and you can easily share it through your phone. And bonus, it can also be your workhorse when you go out on photographic adventures.
     
  19. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

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    #19
    and the Dick Tracy watch will kill the iPhone while cameras will be put into our glass frames such as sun glasses and reading glasses. Maybe we'll just wear a pendant on a chain that can take 100 megapixel images.

    My point is that there are several delivery methods for capturing images and this type of change will always occur. Btw, all through the days of Nikon, Pentax, Minolta, Olympus, Konica, Lieca and more there were "instamatic" type cameras and Polaroid cameras. 35mm cameras continued to sell well during those days.
     
  20. compuwar thread starter macrumors 601

    compuwar

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    #20
    But the economics are quite different now, as are shareholder expectations and the market in general. Things like volume also affect pricing- and the downwards adjusting of earnings reports for Q3 are really starting to worry many (we're in Q4 now for most of the camera manufacturers.) When both profits and sales numbers slump drastically, there will be consequences, and if the camera phone kills 90% of the P&S market this year, then there's likely to be one or two fewer camera manufacturers next year, and the year after...

    MILC sales suck. DSLR sales are down, and P&S sales are in the toilet. Manufacturers want MILCs to be the new saving grace of the industry, but it looks like that may not happen at all, let alone in time to continue to fund all the good stuff.

    Olympus says this year that their camera division will stop bleeding money for the first time- but if the camera market crashes, what happens? If someone buys up their butt scope division, what's the impetus for keeping the camera manufacturing operation alive? It's supposedly been on the block for three years bleeding red ink- every other manufacturer is losing smoney or has sharply taken a hit on profits. Sony's losing money on every product and only making money on content...

    At what point does the shrinking market topple?
    Paul
     
  21. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #21
    For those who comment about the IQ of camera phones and that they are no replacement for DSLRs etc. You really should check out Michael Christopher Brown, he managed to capture the Libyan revolution, amongst other things, using an iPhone. The IQ was so poor that he was subsequently invited to join Magnum, who clearly know nothing about photography!:roll eyes:

    http://www.magnumphotos.com/C.aspx?VP3=CMS3&VF=MAGO31_9_VForm&ERID=2K1HRGWPN2V8

    http://www.mcbphotos.com/#/the-libyan-revolution/vv163

    http://lightbox.time.com/2011/05/20/the-war-in-libya-photographs-by-michael-christopher-brown/#1


    I'm sure there are other high profile photographers who have done similar, I know David Alan Harvey often posts camera phone shots. Cameras are just a tool. Knowing how to use the tool and having the vision to see shots is much more important!
     
  22. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #22
    You've got an awful lot of light in Libya.
     
  23. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #23
    Not really the point. After his SLR was damaged, he didn't think "oh well, better pack up and go home." He just got on with his job with whatever was available. Photographers take photos, they use whatever is available, they don't sit around talking about cameras. Here is a pro photographer (he gets paid) using an iPhone, in a conflict situation, producing commercially reproduced work in top flight publications. iPhones, and other camera phones, are clearly good enough to be used for professional, commercial purposes.
     
  24. mojolicious macrumors 68000

    mojolicious

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    #24
    Photojournalism in a warzone. Of course he's going to use whatever's to hand, and of course the resultant photos won't be appraised by image quality if they're newsworthy and immediate.
     
  25. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #25
    Here's a clip of David Alan Harvey, another Magnum and National Geographic photographer. Interesting as he specifically talks about and shows published images, from a Leica, iPhone, Lumix, amongst others. The book he is showing is phenomenal, if you can find a copy (probably for many $100s now).

    Not a conflict photographer.

    http://www.seriouscompacts.com/showthread.php?t=25497
     

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