Continuing the Discussion: The Future of Point-and-Shoot Cameras

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photo © Stefan Baudy (Flickr creative commons)

UPDATE: In order to get several perspectives on our discussion about the future of point-and-shoot cameras (see original post about the topic below),  I approached Ed Lee, Director of Consumer Imaging Services Group for InfoTrends to get his “insider’s” take on the issue. He had a lot of great insight, and some very explicit views about the digicam VS camera phone questions we raised, which would be interesting to both people in the camera manufacturing business and camera consumers. Here’s what Ed had to say:

“Point and shoots will continue to hold a strong position in the digital camera market. Camera phones will co-exist. While some people will decide to forego a digital camera and just use the one on their phone, others will be inspired by their camera phone photography to go out and buy a digital still camera. As for sophistication, digital still cameras will continue to offer better features than camera phones because they are dedicated devices and do not have to make compromises because of other product constraints. They also continue to work hard at staying one step ahead of camera phones, for instance, digital still cameras offer 14 MP resolution today and camera phones are just getting into the 5 MP range. Digital cameras have a good flash, which when used drains the battery, something that phones cannot afford to happen, if people want to still use the phone function and have a long idle time between charges. Decent 10 MP digital cameras can be purchased for well under $100 now, so in many instances, the up charge to buy a more fully-featured camera phone will far exceed what an entry-level digital camera will cost. So besides the integration feature, some will not see the benefit of paying the extra money. 5 years from now, it may not matter what device you use to capture the image. The key will be what can you do with the image after capture. That is where the real value begins.”

Now we want to hear what you have to say about this topic. Do you think Ed Lee’s predictions are correct? Do you see yourself continuing to use digital point-and-shoot cameras down the road even as your cell phone’s camera advances it’s technology? Comment below or join the discussion at the DP Facebook Page.

Original Post:

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As fans of both the art of photography and the complex tools that help us to capture images–namely cameras–we at Digital Photographer would like to pose a question:

What do you think the future holds for point-and-shoot cameras, when it’s possible that in, say, five years time the cameras built into cell phones will meet the level of shooting sophistication of most consumer level digicams? Will point-and-shoot digital cameras as we know them today become irrelevant or, perhaps, extinct?

So called “instant cameras” have been around on the consumer level since 1948, when the Polaroid Model 95 went on sale (ref. The Impossible Project); and beginning in 1963, the Kodak Instamatic began to make photography accessible to the masses.

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As it stands today, there are over 130 new compact digital cameras on the market, offered by Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Samsung, Fujifilm and Kodak, and each of these manufacturers seems to be in a never-ending race to crank out more. Meanwhile, most anyone who owns an Apple iPhone (like myself) would agree that the image quality of the camera feature in the phone is inferior to even the lowest level point-and-shoot digital camera on the market. Sure, the 3MP camera boasts a built-in auto focus (iPhone 3GS) and a tap-induced digital zoom, but most digital cameras being produced by the above named companies come standard with, at the very least, an 8MP image sensor and 3x optical zoom. Oh, and there’s also always a little helpful feature called flash, which the iPhone still lacks. But the iPhone does record video as well as stills–something that a large number of the current point-and-shoot cameras on the market cannot also claim.

Join the discussion by posting a comment with your thoughts here, or at the DP page on Facebook.

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5 Responses to “Continuing the Discussion: The Future of Point-and-Shoot Cameras”

  1. We had a great comment over at the DP Facebook Page about this post. DP Facebook “Fan,” Michael Cushing, said:

    “I don’t believe that camera phones will ever catch digicams in capability. As new features and technologies are developed they usually follow the pattern of being released on the higher end platforms and then as they get refined and costs come down they are able to implement them on the cheaper and smaller platforms. However, as the camera phones … See Morebecome ‘good enough’ I believe that we may see that people will opt for convenience over quality and with that see a decline in the digicam market. We have seen this in both the music industry, where people have accepted the convenient mp3s over higher quality CDs, and in the video industry, where the slow adoption of Blu-ray because DVDs are ‘good enough.’”

    - The DP Team

  2. keith says:

    Yep, compact cameras will surely continue to be popular & hopefully manufactures will finally make them even easier to use & figure out. As a digital photo instructor its dumbfounding how/why useful settings & modes continue to be buried deep inside – where users are afraid to go. And camera manuals are often times not very helpful either. Well, actually if they keep making cameras difficult and/or confusing to use – my classes will continue to fill.

  3. Digital Photographer says:

    Thanks for the input, Keith. You bring up a good point about many of the useful features in point-and-shoot cameras being hidden. That becomes even more common as manufacturers cut costs by having less “hard buttons” on the camera, and more digital menus–wherein the features you mention are inevitably buried. It is less expensive for them to make these digital menus than to create knobs, dials and buttons on the outside of the camera (which are actually much more convenient to photographers’ quick reach).

    - The DP Team

  4. Please analyze more where can i buy digit camera cheapest.I wanted camera tools.My wife want it this month. :P

  5. When checking features for a new camera you (& I) never ask about battery condition indication because it is just always there. Even on low cost cameras. Except for some NIKONS! I bought a Nikon P6000. It is an expensive pocket camera at $500. In the middle of a days shoot the battery failed. Oh sh*&^t. The Nikon S630 & probably more also lack any battery indication (except for just before shutting down)!

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