As technology gets better, a legitimate debate has arisen in photographic circles: are cell phone cameras killing the entry-level point and shoot digital models that have been a staple of the photographic world for over a decade. Yes, there is undeniable proof that cell phone cameras are getting ever better by the year and that their popularity is increasing, but do they pose a legitimate chance at killing the pocket P&S?
In a recent article published by Digital Photography Review, executives at Canon said that they have no fear of smartphones. The key to the future of the compact camera according to the top brass at Canon: there are simply things that cameras can do that smartphones can't. Want to optically zoom? No smartphone can do that. Want fast-access buttons to make switching settings easier? Forget that on a smartphone. It is for these and other reasons, besides the fact that phone image quality cannot compete with a true camera, that Canon isn't concerned about the perceived phone threat.
Instead, Canon is looking to smartphones for inspiration to make more money. Realizing the snap and share culture brought about by smartphones and wi-fi connectivity, Canon is looking to offer such capabilities on future camera models. Additionally, Canon sees hope that people getting the photographic bug from a phone will eventually want to upgrade to a camera, along with the better experience and pictures they bring.
My take: total agreement with Canon.
There are several things that make true cameras stand out: better resolution, better AF, more versatile optics (think zoom), external buttons that allow for quick changes to settings, and the laundry list of customizable options that do not appear on any cell phone. In addition, point and shoot cameras can be made to be water, freeze, and crush-proof, too.
For anyone who is serious about taking pictures, any smart phone's user interface is its biggest drawback. On a cell phone, you are forced to dive into menus and scroll around for every single setting change you want to make. On a camera, the basic setting controls are at your fingertips in the form of buttons, no menu diving required. With this vital attribute, someone with a real camera can be snapping a once in a lifetime photo while the smart phone user is scrolling through menus, trying to find the setting he/she wants to change.
In the end, camera phones are creatures of opportunity as many more people regularly carry a phone at all times than a camera, which means more on the fly pictures will come by way of phones. Also, phones can have great cameras but lousy user interfaces, which means that, when it comes to serious shooting, real cameras are still the way to go. Unless you're only wanting the bare bones of photographic applications (namely aim and shoot) and are willing to settle for “good enough,” don't ditch your camera anytime soon.
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Digital Photography Review
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