Have You Bought Your Last “Real” Camera?

It’s no secret that smartphones are taking a greater share of our photos these days and not just mindless selfies, either. There have been professional photo shoots with iPhones and the stock photo firm Alamy recently debuted an app that lets you sell your mobile photos (and only mobile photos) online.

What’s more, smartphone makers are making significant strides in image quality and camera design. Two in particular — HTC and Apple — have shifted from cramming more pixels onto their phone’s image sensors to instead made those pixels larger, the better to soak up more light (for faster performance and better indoor photography). Samsung has explicitly mashed a “real” camera, complete with an optical zoom lens, onto a phone with its Galaxy Zoom line.

It’s no surprise why smartphones have caught on as photographic tools. They not only take decent pictures, but they allow you to instantly share your photos with friends and family. With the right app, (like, say, Zoner Photo Studio Edit and Go for Android) you can edit or enhance your photos immediately after you take them.

Smartphones are also mobile photo books, giving you access not simply to all the photos you store on your phone’s internal memory, but to all the images you’ve uploaded to the cloud. If, to pick a not-entirely-random example, you load the Zonerama app on your phone, you can have access to your entire cloud-based photo collection. Not only that, but you can quickly back up the photos you do take on your phone to Zonerama so you know they’re safe for the future. A traditional digital camera simply can’t match that experience.

Of course, there’s still a lot to recommend traditional cameras. Speed, image quality, and the range of creative controls that advanced compacts and d-SLRs offers simply can’t be duplicated by apps (yet). While some phone image sensors have gotten larger, they’re still small by comparison to a d-SLR (let alone a 35mm-sized full frame d-SLR) — which means that phones are still sluggish and underwhelming when the lights go down. Optics, too, are another area where phones seemed destined to lag behind for a while. It’s proven difficult to slap an optical zoom lens on a smartphone without making it too fat. And forget about interchangeable lenses (although Apple is reportedly at work on a lens mount for the iPhone that will permit accessory lens mounting).

Still, if market researchers are to be believed, fewer and fewer of us are buying traditional cameras anymore, which means we’re increasingly being won over to smartphones.

So, dear reader, I ask you: have you been fully won over to smartphone photography? Have you bought your last “real” camera? If not, why not? Let us know in the comments.

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Comments (6)

  1. I have a view that this is a generation thing. Smartphones are very much in vogue with the younger generation and it is they who have stopped buying entry level digital cameras in droves. But, those cameras were relatively too complicated for their needs, which simply supports that photography was not their interest, but simply taking a photo was. So this is why the smartphone has become the camera of choice for them.

    Traditionalists who are interested in photography do not ditch their camera gear to rely solely on a smartphone.

  2. Doesn’t the NAS have enough information on us. Now they want our pictures. I say let them work for it.

  3. It would seem Sony Cyber Cameras answer some of the problems with Smartphones though they are quite expensive.

  4. not a chance- I live where there is no cell signal, it adds up to no smartphone I can afford.

    The needs of a disabled man with medication-damaged memories and shaky, well, everything… it has to be very flexible, so I can uswe it to document what I do any given day.

    I have to have good [6-12x] optical zoom, lens-shift image stabilization, medium [8-12 MP] resolution, and very tight [10mm] macro focus- and run on AA NiMh LSD batteries to last a day out.

    A Canon Powershot A720 IS and a Canon PS SX130 IS are my primary cameras, though I have a couple of older compact cameras stashed where I can grab one when a need arises and the primaries are out of reach.

    For now, that’s an Olympus FE-20 [C570] 8 MP camera [paid $2.50 at a yard sale- with a battery & a 2 gig XD card, and $10 got a charger & 2 new batteries,] my wife uses a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W560, and I’m installing a new lens assembly into a Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-W650 I got cheap that was lenslammed..

    all the cams but the Olympus use SD cards, and the Powershots have the CHDK software installed and boot off the cards for more features.

  5. Its like comparing a trowel and a spade for gardening.

    Could you take a decent pic of an eagle on its nest with a smart phone?

    Smartphone cameras undoubtedly have their place – example; who wants to carry a smartphone AND a camera on a night out?

  6. I almost was. When I drove a taxi the smartphone was the way to go.. I had bought a Canon eos 1000 some time back when I found that film was costing me too much. So I gave my old pentax to the local high school’s camera club for which they were truly thankful. Now that I am retired I have taken some time to learn how to operate the dslr. At 68 years old I figure I might be fairly good with it in about twenty-five years time. One thing I am doing is take photos of driftwood and other garbage and turnig them into 3d carvings for my homebuilt CNC router. Makes magic cupboard doors

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