Are Point-and-Shoot Cameras Dead?




As a photography student, one of the first things my professor said on day one is “Don’t forget about your phone’s camera, it’s better than most compact cameras nowadays.” I didn’t need much convincing – I was born into the information era, after all, so my iPhone is practically glued to my side. But what does that mean for the family looking to invest in the best option for capturing their upcoming trip to Disney, or the social media manager planning out the quickest way to share the company’s team building outing? It means they might not have to search far for their perfect camera.

Prior to the introduction of the iPhone, compact cameras were the most popular type of camera for anyone to own, with point-and-shoots being the most common. “Compact camera” refers to any camera designed specifically for portability that may or may not have DSLR functions. “Point-and-shoot” specifically refers to compact cameras that are designed to be set to automatic functions for the average person who might not consider themselves a “photographer.” Overall, the compact camera market focuses on convenience.

So what happens when the most convenient piece of technology you own has an arguably comparable camera?

According to this article recently published by Resource Magazine, sales in compact cameras have steadily declined since 2009, just two years after the introduction of the iPhone.

And my professor was right, our smartphones are better than a lot of compact cameras on the market right now. So good, in fact, that there is an entire round of annual awards dedicated just to images created by iPhone users, called the IPPA. TIME magazine caught on to this trend in the photography world and ran a series of covers shot exclusively with the iPhone by the photographer Luise Dörr.

Now back to that family packing for Disney. Mom and Dad are on their tablets digging deep into Amazon reviews on compact cameras – ones that are waterproof, ones that have a high megapixel count, even one that can send the photos you take straight to your phone. What Mom and Dad forgot is that they already have military grade cases on their Samsung Galaxy S7s.

Smartphones have essentially taken that main selling point from the compact camera market – convenience – and revolutionized it. So it makes sense that when the camera capabilities caught up to those of at least basic point-and-shoots that smartphones would begin to outsell traditional options. Facebook and Instagram, the two most widely used social networking sites, both offer in-app camera access so that you can take a photo and upload it straight to your feed. Even Adobe Lightroom now offers a free mobile app that has a round of the same editing features as the desktop version, meaning you can now professionally edit your mobile photos in a similar manner to your DSLR ones. These apps allow people to skip the several steps between shooting and sharing that were necessary a decade ago. Remember when you had to wait to come home and plug your camera in?

The new argument now is Apple or Android which is a hot topic all its own. Here’s a quick link that compares them, though. As with any debate on brand, it comes down to personal preference.

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