Print 30 comment(s) - last by mscheele.. on Jan 24 at 9:26 PM

More casual users turn to smartphones for their point-and-shoot needs

While digital cameras — and the company's ineptness at reinvention — have led to Chapter 11 bankruptcy for Eastman Kodak, smartphones are posing a threat to the technology Kodak itself invented in the 1970s.

A report issued by marketing analyst group NPD found that casual photographers are increasingly using their smartphones — many now standardly equipped with 8-megapixel cameras — to capture spontaneous moments. 

Last April, we reported that the iPhone was dominating point-and-shoot cameras in usage statistics. Around the same time Cisco to killed its once-popular Flip camera division.

"There is no doubt that the smartphone is becoming ‘good enough’ much of the time; but thanks to mobile phones, more pictures are being taken than ever before," said NPD's Liz Cutting in a press release.

That's all beginning to have an effect on point-and-shoot camera sales.  NPD found that the point-and-shoot camera market was down 17 percent in units sold for the first 11 months of 2011, while pocket camcorders were down 13 percent and traditional flash camcorders declined 8 percent.

And while the point-and-shoot market is already feeling the impact, the threat to DSLR and higher-end cameras is imminent as smartphone technology improves. With popular apps such as Instagram and Hipstamatic, and the addition of lens-improving attachments such as the ones available from Photojojo, many smartphone-camera enthusiasts can now recreate near DSLR-quality photos without the need for extra expensive equipment.

NPD's study, however, found that cameras with detachable lenses and those with 10x optical zoom or greater actually saw increases in units sold (12 percent and 16 percent, respectively), meaning the high-end market has no need to worry just yet.

But that's not stopping manufacturers Samsung, Canon, and Sony from introducing new standard features to stave off the smartphone wave. "All manufacturers, including Samsung, need to focus on the value proposition of a camera and what differentiates it versus a smartphone," Reid Sullivan, a senior vice president of Samsung, told Bloomberg.

The news shouldn't come as much of a surprise, as smartphones and tablets continue their march towards becoming an all-in-one device, putting stand-alone MP3-player and GPS manufacturers at risk, as well.

Source: NPD

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Not me
By p05esto on 1/20/2012 2:22:47 PM , Rating: 5
Maybe true for some, but not true for me. A nice $300 point-and-shoot has a decent 12x zoom and can shoot HD video as well (very important detail). The quality of the pictures and videos are far superior to phones. The real proof comes when shooting in low light or fast moving objects.

I always carry a real camera around when on vacations or special events. I don't want my family photo collection I look back on 30 yrs from now to be made up of crummy cell phone photos.

RE: Not me
By MrTeal on 1/20/2012 2:34:45 PM , Rating: 4
NPD's study, however, found that cameras with detachable lenses and those with 10x optical zoom or greater actually saw increases in units sold (12 percent and 16 percent, respectively), meaning the high-end market has no need to worry just yet.

That pretty much describes your camera, so you're actually inline with trends.

For me, I don't think I've used my P&S in a couple years. If I'm planning on taking a picture I'll use the dSLR. If I'm just out and about and want to take a picture of something, a good smartphone does a pretty darn good job these days. You might not want to be printing out 8x10s or trying to shoot in low light with them, but the quality and convenience of using something you have on you all the time anyway is great.

RE: Not me
By Solandri on 1/20/2012 3:07:56 PM , Rating: 3
We already went through this in the film days. The DSLR market is tiny in comparison to the general consumer (point and shoot) market. Canon and Nikon fight over it just for the prestige of having the "best" cameras and lenses. In the film days, disposable cameras peaked at just under 20% of all rolls of developed film. I don't think SLRs ever passed 10%.
In 1998, the unit share by camera type purchases, according to Photo Marketing Association International (PMA), was: 35mm lens shutter with 46.5 percent; camcorder with 22.4 percent; APS with 8 percent; 110 with 7.6 percent; instant with 5.5 percent; 35mm SLR with 4.1 percent; digital still camera with 3 percent; and professional medium and large format with 2.9 percent

So 95% of the time, people basically just want a snapshot to remember that trip or party or whatever. A disposable camera or camera phone accomplishes that. The people taking photos seriously fall into the 5%. Sure they may represent most of the photos you see published, but in terms of people actually taking pictures they're a tiny minority.

Sensor technology is constantly improving, and most photos don't need the artistic things you gain from large lenses (shallow depth of field, fast shutter speed to freeze action). There are some limits imposed by the physics of optics, but they mostly impact telephoto lenses. For normal and wide-angle, there's little to stop the miniaturization of cameras. So it's pretty much inevitable that the general point and shoot camera is going to shrink to where a decent one which fits in your cell phone. And that phone camera will meet the camera needs of 95% of people, and probably 99% of people's photography needs (i.e. of the 5% who do own a DSLR, 80% of the time they'll be happy with a camera phone pic).

At least with the PDA vs. cell phone convergence, there was some question as to whether PDAs would start to gain telephony features, or whether cell phones would gain PDA-like features. For cameras vs. cell phones, the outcome is obvious. You always have your cell phone with you. Wouldn't it be nice to always have your camera with you too?

RE: Not me
By sleepeeg3 on 1/21/2012 3:22:56 AM , Rating: 3
I have been scrambling for the highest resolution cameraphone, since phones achieved a then passible 3MP. However, no improvement in sensor technology can overcome the limited focal ability of small camera optics. It is a matter of physics. Dedicated cameras will continue to hold a significant market, until we see substantial improvements in cameraphone lenses.

Samsung was already set to introduce a 12MP, 3x optical zoom cameraphone back in 2009. It was most likely quashed by current trends:
Why introduce a phone this awesome, when people are used to less?

RE: Not me
By FITCamaro on 1/23/2012 7:41:03 AM , Rating: 2
I'd buy it.

But in point, my mom was looking to buy my brother a new camera for Christmas since he once again lost his. Also on his list was a new phone. I just said why not get him a new phone since most new smartphones have a pretty good camera for taking pictures in the moment. Certainly not good enough for blowing up and printing out but definitely good enough for snapping a quick picture and sharing on facebook.

RE: Not me
By Flunk on 1/22/2012 1:00:58 PM , Rating: 2
Most people don't care enough to own a SLR. If all you're doing is taking photos to catelog you life there is little difference between a $120 camera and a $1,000 high end SLR.

RE: Not me
By LSUJester on 1/20/2012 2:45:44 PM , Rating: 2
I'm right with you. For everyday pictures, I have no problem with my phone taking the picture. This SGSII does a good enough job taking a picture of, for example, my dog chewing on a stick.

I managed to score a Canon DSLR a few months back for cheap, and had a Nikon before that. I don't ever see a phone taking the same quality pictures that they can, so I imagine there will always be a market for good, dedicated cameras. But I can also see the camera market as a whole slowly being consumed by smartphones and the like.

RE: Not me
By Mitch101 on 1/20/2012 5:02:15 PM , Rating: 2
Similar here I think its more that I remember to carry my phone and it goes everywhere I do but I often forget my camera although better than my phone camera my Phone does the job.

The camera might be the biggest selling point for my next phone.

RE: Not me
By Guspaz on 1/20/2012 6:27:34 PM , Rating: 2
Sure, but a $100 P&S is going to be seeing some pretty painful drops in sales.

RE: Not me
By bennyg on 1/20/2012 7:34:01 PM , Rating: 2
I think the argument is about the middle ground.

Phones are convenient. Everyone pretty much has it in their pocket or handbag anyway, so why bother carrying around a camera as well, *even if* it were the same size.

Cheap P&S aren't *that* much better than the high quality ones available now. We have a Desire HD ("Inspire" to you yanks iirc) and a Milestone 2 (Droid 2) in the house and each has seen more than enough use for our 2 month old son. I even use my MS2 to 'poor mans scan' stuff all the time. They *are* good enough for quick shots, maybe 5% turn out bad (too much movement, out of focus etc) but you get used to taking two or three in a row so that chances are one turns out really good.

Of course I used the DSLR for the shot that went in the frame for my folks' christmas present though and lots of others. But that's the point - where do P&S fit in?

RE: Not me
By acer905 on 1/23/2012 12:20:38 PM , Rating: 2
Another problem with new point & shoot cameras, they really aren't all that much better than a few years ago. I still have my 6MP Canon SD600, and it takes a far better picture than a few modern 12MP P&S. Unless it breaks I don't see myself buying a new camera, and when I do it will be one of the high end P&S that Canon offers with really good auto-focus and shutter speed. (I was looking at DSLRs but a lot of the original advantage of SLR cameras has been minimized by the digital preview, which shows you exactly what you will take a picture of. And I don't need interchangeable lenses if it has a nice optical zoom already)

RE: Not me
By rudy on 1/22/2012 3:43:50 AM , Rating: 2
Ya some people are like you but in reality that number is shrinking. My sister has 3 very nice DSLRs I can access if I want good pictures. I personally have a very nice S85 we use for business and special events. But 99% of the time the phone is in the pocket and that is what gets used. Most people are like this. The camera market is going to shrink until it is only high end stuff and random niche products. Nothing can stop that now.

RE: Not me
By GeorgeOu on 1/23/2012 4:48:50 AM , Rating: 2
Something like the Canon S95 or S100 with its relatively massive (compared to smartphones and other point-n-shoot cameras) 1/1.7" sensor has nothing to be afraid of. If anything, smartphones simply kill the low end and mid range point-n-shoot market which means more market for high end point-n-shoot like the S95 or S100. But even people with an S95 won't have it as often as their phone when they're out and about, and the best camera is the one you have.

It's the intent
By bildan on 1/20/2012 2:48:37 PM , Rating: 2
I've been in the photography game long enough to remember using an 4x5 Speed Graphic with flashbulbs.

The camera you choose is determined by what you intend to do with the image. If it's just to share on the web, smartphones are fine. OTOH, if you want to print or sell the image, only the best is good enough.

What I dream of is a modern digital equivalent of a view camera complete with tilt and shift lens mount.

This, I think, could be achieved with a tablet connected to a simple imaging system with interchangeable lenses - basically a lens mount with digital image sensor and lens. The tablet takes the place of the old ground glass screen.

I think my black cloth is around somewhere.

RE: It's the intent
By Solandri on 1/20/2012 3:20:03 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think those are ever coming back. Looking ahead to the future, their functionality (e.g. tilt-shift, shallow depth of field) will be duplicated by light field cameras.

The only remaining strengths of large format cameras (and SLRs) - capturing large amounts of light for shorter exposures, and high resolution - are being made irrelevant by increased sensor sensitivity.

In principle, a light field camera is pretty much the same as a hologram. Except the different views must be computed instead of happening automatically when you shine a laser on to it. And the viewing angles are more limited due to the lens-sensor separation. So if you think of photos as 2D while holograms are 3D, light field cameras are kinda like 2.5D.

RE: It's the intent
By wordsworm on 1/21/2012 7:08:18 AM , Rating: 2
Large lenses will never be replaced by high sensitivity. I have a capable G11. But its shortcomings are related to the smallish size of the lens. Still, under the correct circumstances, it takes gorgeous photos. My wife's camera is decent, too. She's got a Nikon which is good at fast shots, is a bit better at night, and has a great zoom. But the colours and detail of closer shots are not as great.

That said, I know lots of folks who don't even know how to use the cameras that they have. So, likely for most of them they won't care about the quality of the shots. As someone else said, for most of them, they just want to post their shots on Facebook or some other web portal.

There's another thing to consider: that there is more functionality with this smartphones in terms of organizing the shots, uploading, etc. These social tools may be missing on the single function cameras and therefore add steps to the task of sharing those shots with friends and family.

RE: It's the intent
By Flunk on 1/22/2012 1:02:27 PM , Rating: 2
Never say never, you never know what is going to happen in the future. If you did you would be a billionaire in a few years.

RE: It's the intent
By mscheele on 1/24/2012 9:26:13 PM , Rating: 2
If you want view camera capabilities, it's doable, though at a high price.

A starting point:

DSLRs under threat?!
By Johnmcl7 on 1/21/2012 7:20:42 AM , Rating: 3
I'm trying to work out if this comment is serious or tongue in cheek because it's so incredibly daft in many ways I can't see how it could be serious:

"And while the point-and-shoot market is already feeling the impact, the threat to DSLR and higher-end cameras is imminent as smartphone technology improves"


RE: DSLRs under threat?!
By Shadowself on 1/22/2012 1:26:23 PM , Rating: 2

I 100% agree.

While digital point and shoot cameras ARE under direct threat by cell phones and such, high end DSLR -- those with high pixel count, high sensitivity, high dynamic range sensors, excellent software and interchangeable lenses going from 10 mm to 1,000+ mm and f-stops as good as 1.2 in some cases -- will be safe from encroachment by cell phones for a long, long time. Leaf has absolutely nothing to worry about from cell phones for at least a decade. Higher end Cannon and Nikon systems are the same.

Maybe in 15 or 25 years there will be breakthroughs in sensors AND optics that will make a pocketable device the equivalent of a great, high end DSLR but not before then.

While most don't think of it, the very high end DSLRs (with great 80+ Mpixel sensors and very good software) are just now starting to really replace the highest end film cameras. (Think of the 8x10 plate and larger film cameras [yes, larger format than 8x10 film exists for specialty cases]. They are very rare, but exist.)

RE: DSLRs under threat?!
By Metaluna on 1/22/2012 3:28:39 PM , Rating: 2
I agree. People seem to have forgotten that the camera industry has been through all this many times in the past (or they weren't born yet). If "good enough for snapshots" were the only criterion for the survival of the mid-to-high end, SLRs would have been dead decades ago. In fact, in the film era, there was even *less* of a gulf in quality between low-end P&S and SLRs, because they all used the same "sensor", i.e. 35mm film. Yet high-end cameras survived, because people buy them for different (and not always rational) reasons than just simple megapixel counts.

In short, P&S's have been so good for so long now, that all the people who would have been inclined to jump ship from a high end SLR have already done so. Now they will be jumping from P&S to smartphone, but for the people who have already decided they need a DSLR, nothing in the cost/benefit equation has fundamentally changed. If anything, smartphones might get more people interested in photography, who might then want to move up to the prosumer products and beyond.

That's not to say that the higher end market won't evolve. No doubt you will see many more smartphone-like features like touchscreen UIs, integrated wireless, and maybe even apps. I also think we may see a decline in the traditional reflex system (i.e. the mirror and prism that gives the SLR its name) in favor of MIL (mirrorless interchangeable lens) designs.

Also, with smartphones cannibalizing the end P&S and camcorder revenues, there will probably be some market consolidation, as some of the smaller manufacturers simply get starved off by attrition and lack of money for R&D. The big diversified brands like Nikon and Canon, and even Sony, will probably be fine though.

RE: DSLRs under threat?!
By Rukkian on 1/23/2012 12:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
Some of that depends on what people have DSLR cameras to do. My brother has a good DSLR, but simply got it to take quick shots of decent quality, but since him and his wife got their iphones, it sits collecting dust. There will always be a market for big, high end cameras, however, I can see it coming down as there are people that simply bought them because a sales person sold it up, and they really did not need it in the first place. For those people, they may no longer even go into the camera shop, therefore cannot get sold a much better camera than they will ever use.

Kodak's own fault
By Guspaz on 1/20/2012 6:26:53 PM , Rating: 2
Kodak's bankruptcy is really their own fault. Apple doesn't make the camera modules in their phones, nor do many of the phone manufacturers. In fact, Canon doesn't even make the sensor in a lot of their cameras: my Canon PowerShot S95 has a Sony sensor.

If Kodak was smart, they would have been pumping out compact camera modules, and selling them to device manufacturers everywhere. Heck, everything has a camera these days. Tablets have one (or two) cameras, smartphones have one (or two) cameras... My 3DS has *three* cameras!

RE: Kodak's own fault
By vapore0n on 1/21/2012 11:02:01 AM , Rating: 2
Unfortunately Ive used and owned several Kodak cameras and all of them have sucked. Went to Canon and have had the same camera for over 5 years with no problems.

Kodak did it to themselves by putting out low quality products and staying behind times in features.

RE: Kodak's own fault
By mscheele on 1/24/2012 9:23:24 PM , Rating: 2
Leica disagrees with your assessment. They source their sensors for the M8.2 and M9 from Kodak. Sure, the high price means low volume, but Kodak can produce high quality sensors.

Shoddy Reporting at best...
By EricMartello on 1/22/12, Rating: 0
RE: Shoddy Reporting at best...
By DoctorBeer on 1/22/2012 1:43:51 PM , Rating: 2
So true. Anyone who thinks that cell phone cameras are a threat to DSLR's has been sniffing some really strong glue.

The only time a photographer would ever turn to a cell phone camera is if both his SDLR and back up camera broke and he had no other choice. Even then I prob. would call it quits for the day if both my cameras broke.

By cyberjack101 on 1/22/2012 3:46:12 PM , Rating: 2
I also own a smartphone, Nikon Coolpix camera, and a small Toshiba digital video handheld. But I believe I'm the aberation (sic). Economics governs what people spend their money on and most people can only afford one and they need the phone. So with an attached camera it just makes sense people are less inclined to purchase an additional quality piece of equipment.

By troysavary on 1/23/2012 8:05:35 AM , Rating: 2
Cell phones are not going to replace cameras, tablets are not going to replace PCs, and Android is not going to replace Windows. All these statements are made by kids who think consumers gadgets encompass the entire tech world. The professional and business markets have needs that toys cannot supply.

Photographers will not replace their DSLRs with the tiny lenses and sensors of a phone. Megapixels mean nothing if you don't have the optics to take advantage of them.

Phone cell-tower triangulation might be fine for finding a restaurant, but I need centimeter precise location for work, and a phone will not ever cut it there. For that matter, can't use a phone recreationally too. I like to hike and camp remote areas. I often end up where there is no cell service. People like me will always need a real GPS.

Enough of these articles.

Wrong angle on phone cameras.
By jabber on 1/24/2012 7:02:36 AM , Rating: 2
I don't for a minute believe that phone cams will get to the level of a good DSLR etc. However, I don't think the main issue with phone cams is the lens or the focusing.

It's the compression.

The manufacturers apply way too much compression to the jpegs. Oh great so we can get 450 snaps on my phone but I'd rather be able to take just 50 good ones. Its about time we the customers where given the ability to choose the compression settings.

A 5MP pic on my phone comes in at around 800KB, that's about a third of the size it should be and it really shows when you pull the pic up on screen. Looks great on the phone but no use other than that. If I could lower the compression to around a 2MB file size they would be usable. I have 16GB of storage so its not an issue.

"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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