The Future of Photography

The future of photography – one photog’s point of view.

Photography; more specifically the camera, is one of those great technologies that I have had the privilege of watching evolve [and use] over time.  I’ve used several different types/styles over the years and have welcomed and very much enjoyed each new advancement.  There is much speculation lately as to where the camera market is headed.

JphoneThe camera phone was a real game-changer.  The first cell phone with a built-in camera was manufactured by Samsung and released in South Korea in June of 2000 ||read more||.  The game started out at .35 megapixel; today The Nokia Lumia 1020 features an impressive 41 megapixel.  Megapixel alone is not the measure to end all measures.  If you don’t already know, photography isn’t all about the megapixel despite the marketing blitzes related to recent DSLR [and now seemingly smartphones].  megapixel races…It’s plain nonsense.  You can create some amazing photography at 10-12 megapixel (or even less) and even print it.  Don’t be fooled by the hype.

Having said all that said, with a camera phone at a moderate megapixel count, the need for a DSLR or bridge camera or point and shoot is seemingly non-existent.  Seemingly; not absolutely.  This depends on your level of need/use of course.  I am referring to the general to moderate enthusiast users.  With smartphones being commonplace, is there really a need for bridge or point and shoot cameras anymore?  You can push on even further from that question and ask what role, if any, will entry-level DSLR’s play going forward?

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Manufacturers of DSLR’s have loaded current models up with 1080p HD video, rotating LCD screens, high megapixel counts, and other new/interesting features, however, the entry-level DSLR market continues to decline.  Manufacturers have made great strides in regards to size and weight, but there is difficulty contending with the smarts phones of the day that can do the same job, or I suspect in some cases, an even better job and can be carried more easily.

The constant demand for faster, better, more features, smaller footprints, get things done, effortlessly and now is answered quite nicely with the smart phone.  The first photograph took 8 hours to expose – today, you can take a picture and distribute it to the entire globe in seconds.  Even though these magic machines evolved from phones, I am sufficiently convinced that they should be renamed to smart device or magic thingy or something more appropriate than smart phone – the phone role is a pretty small one these days.  More texting and other forms of communicating are happening instead of the spoken word I suspect.  Social media has no doubt played a significant role in this big picture trend.

These super-duper smart devices are not only dampening the camera market.  The personal computing (PC/Laptop) market is taking a hit as well.  I haven’t really seen how these devices are affecting tablet sales.  Where is this all going?  Smaller and lighter – I am not necessarily a fan.  Eventually; with current technology, the smaller you go the more of a performance hit you take – especially where camera sensors are concerned.  This is where I see new and great things being developed.  Take a brief moment and read all about Google Glass.

iphone-5-cameraMost everyone will have some form of these smart devices (if they do not already) in the no-so-distant future (1-3 yrs.).  I finally gave in after years of limping along with my Samsung flip phone.  I have very much enjoyed the in-device camera features of my iPhone 5S.  Pro:  Convenience is huge for many and depending on the situation; I can get on board with that notion.  Photo editing tools on these devices work surprisingly well.  Con:  I am not a fan of relinquishing the exposure control and settling for auto mode.

The only room for a point and shoot camera in my life is for instances where I don’t want to risk damaging my phone (e.g. kayaking) or have a desire to instantly share a photo with the rest of the world.  I’ve carried a DSLR while kayaking in the past…that can be risky and I’ve had a few close calls.  With phone insurances like Square Trade, I may not worry about the phone getting wet or sustaining any other damage.  You would have to deal with the hassle of getting the device replaced.  I think for the most part, the point and shoot will suffer a slow and quiet death.  It has had its place and time in history.

My personal wish for the future of the DSLR…

Dear camera manufactures,

Please quit making so many models and the addition of megapixel does not a great upgrade make!  Please focus more on the sensor technology and camera features – thanks!  Included in a minimal model offering – please make DSLR’s without video.  There are some of us that will never use it and don’t want to pay for it.

The DSLR is a tool of a trade/art.  While most are completely satisfied with their smart phone as a camera, others desire a lot more.  Exposure control and Interchangeable lenses are top of my list, although the latter is available for smart phones now and is surprisingly good (more on that later).  I like the feel of a beefy DSLR in my hands.  I like all the controls/settings at my fingertips (I very much despise digging in menus to change settings).  In my perfect DSLR world, I see entry-level models gone altogether.  I have no clue why people want to spend $500-$1000 on an entry level DSLR that has no more features than your smart phone.  Consumption is based more out of want than need for a lot of folks if I had to venture a guess.  Who hasn’t gone a bit overkill on a perceived need?  I’ve always considered myself to be very technically savvy, but that isn’t the whole picture – there is cost involved here.  The bleeding edge of technology is no place for the meek; even the cutting edge has become a titch scary for me.  My hope going forward is for a more limited offering of crop-sensor and full-frame models.  Having a higher price point, in my mind, garners more commitment from the consumer in their purchase and having less models hopefully would steer the manufacturers to being more innovative rather than just adding more megapixels.

camera-battery-grip

I recently purchased a full-frame camera and am quite happy with it.  I didn’t go to the farthest edge of current technology, but rather settled in with the tried and true.  I passed on the Nikon D800e for two reasons:  1.) price and 2.) I do not need 36 megapixels.  I went with the D700 as 12 megapixels is quite adequate and the $1200 price tag was very welcoming.

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The evolution of photography is far from over.  Change is one constant we can all be assured of.  Photography is no different from most things – there isn’t a magic button to push that will cover all needs or interests.  The diversity in camera styles and technology is what fuels the photographic creativity of the future.  I can’t wait to see what someone dreams up next.  Is mirrorless the next greatest thing?  We shall have to wait and see.

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6 Replies to “The Future of Photography”

  1. Interesting thoughts. I have seen amazing results from smart phones but I can’t seem to replicate them. I finally succumbed to the Canon 1Dx but the weight is a killer. Sooner or later technology will play catch up and my 1Dx and super-telephoto lens will be obsolete. It can’t come soon enough for me but I’m not sold on smart phone cameras. Where is my exposure compensation??

    1. I don’t mind a heavy camera, but I don’t shoot everyday all day long either.

      I have been experimenting with the iPhone a lot lately with mixed results. I did acquire and handy bit of equipment to use with my iPhone which I will write about next. The addition helps. Exposure compensation would be huge!

  2. great post…I used my iPhone when I first began taking photos a year ago…they do a descent job, but of course like anything else I thought I needed a “better camera” to take better photos…what I think I really needed was to learn how to take/compose photos in the first place! So I have my entry level NIkon, my photos are improving, but I much to learn!

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