As technology becomes more and more prevalent in society, there seems to be a shift as to what makes a technology stand the test of time. Instead of the focus being on the potential of a device itself, it appears that there is greater focus on what is most convenient. A perfect example of this, is the shift from using a stand-alone point and shoot camera to relying solely on smartphones to handle all of the on the fly photo snapping. But, does convenience translate to what is actually best for use? In order to fully assess this question it is necessary to first compare the pros and cons on both devices. Next, it is pertinent to see if the trends in these technologies parallel any other past technologies. Finally, it is essential to assess where these technologies are likely to end up in the next few years.
When looking at point and shoot cameras there are some immediate pros one can readily recognize. The first pro to using a point and shoot camera is that they typically have larger megapixel sensors. This means that pictures are captured at higher resolutions, or that a picture can be expanded to a greater degree without loosing quality of the photo and experiencing bitmapping (pixilation of a photo). A second pro to using a point and shoot camera over a smart phone is that photos are recorded onto an SD flash memory card. This is advantageous in that the camera’s memory can be expanded up to 64 gigabytes on a single card, and multiple cards can be carried, thus eliminating the worry of running out of memory. Another pro to using a point and shoot is that multiple batteries can be purchased and charged as well, giving a person the ability to take photos for days. An additional pro is that point and shoot cameras have quarter inch threads, giving the camera the ability to be put on any tripod. The final and possibly greatest pro to using a point and shoot camera is that not only do point and shoots have more manual features, such as exposure control, but many can also record in a RAW format. A RAW format is essentially a format that allows for more camera data, including light and color, to be recorded into a digital file. This allows for better, more precise editing in programs such as Photoshop. Now that the pros of using a point and shoot camera have been evaluated, it is necessary to assess the cons.
One of the first major cons to using a point and shoot camera when compared to a smartphone is that smartphones, on average, are much thinner making them more portable. By solely relying on a smartphone, there is one less device that has to be carried around. Another con to using a point and shoot camera is that a majority of point and shoot cameras do not have interchangeable lenses, and if they do the lenses are typically overpriced. The Nikon 1, a well-rounded point and shoot, will have a starting lens cost at $250. This is incredibly steep considering that a professional DSLR lens starts at $130, and that the lenses for the point and shoot will only fit the specific body it was designed for. The next con to using a point and shoot camera is that most do not connect directly to the internet, so in order to upload a photo to a social networking site such as Facebook or Twitter, one first has to go through the process of dumping their photos to a computer. Now that both the pros and cons of a point and shoot camera have been appraised, it is pertinent that the same is done for smartphones.
The first major and obvious advantage to using a smartphone as a primary camera is that smartphones tend to be thin and ultra portable. By using a smartphone as a camera, it eliminates having to carry two devices, which ultimately lightens a persons’ load. On the same note, using a smartphone doesn’t require a computer to upload photos to social networking sites. This essentially means that two devices, a camera and computer, have been eliminated. Another pro to using a smartphone is that there are both Android and Apple apps, such as Instagram, and Photoshop Mobile that are available for free that allow these phones to do basic image editing, such as color and exposure correction on the fly. A third pro to using a smartphone is that photos can be uploaded from anywhere do to the constant cellular data connection that is contracted through a cellular provider such as AT&T or Verizon. By purchasing a phone with a contract it actually makes the phone less expensive than many top of the line point and shoot cameras. An iPhone with an unlimited data plan costs $200, which is decently inexpensive given how much it can do. A fourth pro to using a smartphone is that there are many third party vendors that make lenses specifically for smartphones like the iPhone. These lenses add features such as optical zoom, and are fairly inexpensive. A zoom lens for an iPhone costs around $30. (Honig, 1) However one has to keep in mind that this is not professional grade glass. The final and possibly best advantage to using a smartphone is the ease of use. Features such as tap to focus make it incredibly easy for the average consumer to take a decent photo. With the pros being brought to light it is now necessary to evaluate the cons of using a smartphone as a primary camera. (Deeptaman, 2)
The first con to using a smartphone as a primary camera is that an unlimited data plan must be purchased in order to truly take advantage of the features that a smartphone has to offer. Data plans are typically quite expensive and must be paid on a monthly basis. Verizon’s largest data plan, which is 10gb, cost 80$ a month. Another disadvantage to using a smartphone as a primary camera, is that smartphones typically have lower megapixel sensors, thus making photos look less professional. A third con to using a smartphone is the fact that smartphones like the iPhone are limited to a single charge on it’s internal battery. This means that battery life has to be rationed and monitored carefully. In addition most smartphones do not have expandable memory. This means that a phone is limited to its’ onboard memory, which currently maxes out at 64 gigabytes. This means that a computer is somewhat necessary if a person wants to save all of their photos. Smartphones also lack a quarter inch thread, making it difficult to mount the phone on a tripod without purchasing some sort of conversion attachment. Another negative aspect of using a smartphone is that smartphones lack out of the box optical zooms. This means that a person can’t stay stationary and zoom in on objects. There is digital zoom, but digital zoom is essentially cropping of the photo, which translates to an image of poor quality via bitmapping. The final con to using a smartphone as a primary camera is the fact that if a smartphone breaks, not only is a person without a camera, but also their phone and connection to social networking sites as well. Now that both the pros and cons of a smartphone have been evaluated, it is necessary to see if there are any devices that seemingly parallel the point and shoot camera.
The main device that comes to mind when comparing the trends of a point and shoot with a smartphone are PDAs or Palm Pilots. When Palm Pilots first arrived to the tech scene they were one of the must have devices. They brought about the innovative idea and feature of organizing things such as calendars, notes, and a calculator all onto one device. And with the addition of the palm software a person could sync any updates added to notes and calendars to their computer. However a palm pilot was fairly difficult to use and one had to learn its’ own characters in order to input text with the stylus. Palm Pilots became popular around the same time that cell phones started taking off. As cell phones matured they began gaining some of the features that palm pilots had such as a dedicated calendar and calculator app. Cellphones inevitably absorbed these features and even began receiving superior technologies such as an on board camera. This eliminated the need for both a cellphone and a palm pilot and ultimately led to the death of the largest manufacturer of PDAs, Palm Inc. (Miller, 1)
It is logical to assume that eventually point and shoot cameras will be phased out in a fashion notely similar to PDAs. The first reason one can easily come to this conclusion is that smartphone cameras are beginning to gain higher and higher megapixel resolutions, making them direct competition for point and shoot cameras. The iPhone 4S for example sports an 8-megapixel sensor, which can take superior pictures to many point and shoots. It is quite likely that smartphones may receive camera sensors up to 12 megapixels by the release of the iPhone 5. This would mean that smartphones have officially caught up to the standard of the point and shoot. Another reason smartphones will most likely phase out point and shoot cameras is the fact that such a large population owns iPhones.
The reason that this will largely impact point and shoots is that, since there is a wide market for iPhone accessories, there will inevitably be more third party vendors making inexpensive lenses and battery expansion packs. This would remedy the issue of not being able to replace the internal battery and the worry of rationing out one’s battery to different tasks. Another large reason why point and shoots are likely to be phased out is the fact that a quality model is so expensive that a person may as well save up for a professional DSLR camera. Although point and shoots are slowly adapting and attempting to add features such as on board wifi for wirelessly transferring photos to a computer, they still lack the ability to connect to a social network wherever and are confined to places where a wifi router exists. Although this translates to a trip to Panera or even perhaps just being at one’s home, it still is less convenient than a smartphone. In addition there are point and shoot companies that are already going out of business because of smartphone technologies. The main manufacturer that comes to mind is Kodak. The fact that a large company like this has already went out of business it is easy to assume that within even the next few years point and shoot cameras will be a thing of the past. (Conneally, 1) A final reason why smartphones will most likely take over is the fact that already 27% of the photos uploaded to social networking sites are from smartphones. This is a high percentage considering smartphones haven’t been existence very long. (Zax, 1)
In conclusion even though what is convenient isn’t always was is best, it seems that in the case of smartphones vs point and shoots this is very much the case. With the technologies of smartphones catching up to the standards of a typical point and shoot it is just a matter of time before they are phased out. While this may seem alarming, professional DSLR body cameras are still alive and well.
Conneally, Tim. “R.I.P. Kodak digital cameras, camcorders, digital frames.” BetaNews (2012): Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
This source highlights how one company, “Kodak” has been put out of business by devices like smartphones. This will be used to back up the idea that point and shoots will become a thing of the past, because Kodak was primarily a point and shoot Camera Company. In addition via the well-known company dissolving, It can be better argued that point and shoots will be phased out soon, due to the fact that people are already seeing companies vanish.
Deeptaman, Mukherjee. “Smartphone’s Challenge to Point & Shoot Cameras.” Technically Personal. (2012): Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
This article gives input on how, not only can smartphones take pictures, but also how they can now take HD video. This is a good point to bring up since modern point and shoots can now take video, making it a factor in whether people buy a camera or not. It finally highlights how modern point and shoots are trying to regain its’ market via adding features like uploading over wi-fi, and connecting directly to social networks. However the lack of apps will make editing on the fly difficult, thus making a smartphone slightly advantageous.
Honig, Zach. “Olloclip thee-in-one lens for iPhone 4 review.” Engadget (2011): Web. 29 Feb. 2012. < http://www.engadget.com/2011/07/14/olloclip-three-in-one-lens-for- iphone-4-review/>.
This article is used to show how the iPhone is getting third party attachments that can allow it for swappable lenses. This will be a point in arguing that smartphone cameras are becoming as up to date as modern point and shoots. It will also touch on the portability factor since these camera lenses are attached to the casing and are fairly inexpensive compared to lenses on point and shoots, like the Nikon One.
Miller, Matthew. “We have reached the end of Palm Os.” ZDNet (2009): Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
This article highlights how Plam OS was put out of business due to smartphones. It highlights how now the company is focusing on Web OS and developing software for smartphones. This article will be used to help parallel palm devices with point and shoot cameras. It will also show how many of these companies being killed by the smartphone industry are joining them in order to tap the new market.
Zax, David. “Revenge of the Point-and-Shoot.” Technology Review: MIT. (2012): Web. 29 Feb. 2012.
This article begins on highlighting how the idea of point and shoot cameras being phased out is not a new idea and has been around for a few years. It also shows some statistics like how 27% of photos being taken and uploaded today are from smartphones. This will be helpful in showing a real example of how large the smartphone market is. It finally is useful in that it brings to light the concept of how smartphones have wi-fi and gsm networks that allow for the phones to upload photos to facebook on the fly from anywhere. This eliminates the process of having to use a computer as your primary storage for photos, since all photos taken with a smartphone can be on the cloud immediately.