Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Are Point and Shoot Camera's Going Extinct?

When working on a post on how to buy a camera, I was looking for some statistics on camera ownership.  I couldn't find anything good that was recent, so I decided to check out Google Trends (tool that shows number of searches over time) and the results were not what I was expecting.

I entered "digital camera" and what I got is a very steady decline in searches since 2004.

At first I thought this must have something to do with the use of the word "digital camera" declining rather than actual interest in digital cameras declining.  But then I saw an article from 2004 (where the little "A" flag is) that was called Sharp forecasts the death of the consumer digital camera.  Basically the article states that the growing quality of cameras attached to phones will eventually kill off the need for consumer digital cameras.

Well, it's 8 years later, and consumer digital cameras have not yet gone the way of the dodo But smartphone camera's have come a long way from the 2 to 3 megapixel cameras the article was talking about, to Nokia's recently announced 41 megapixel behemoth.

Another interesting trend I found was the oposite graph generated from searching "DSLR".

It seems that people's interest in learning more about photography beyond the consumer level has not waned. I would even go so far as to say that many people probably get started taking pictures with their phone and eventually move on to a DSLR.

What does this all mean?  Well pretty much, it's just an observation of the evolution of technology.  We used to have separate mp3 players and phones.  The smartphone revolution pretty much did away with the need for a separate music playing device for most people.  In the very near future, we might be saying the same thing about point and shoot cameras.


JDTapp said...

Read an article somewhere recently about a newish camera technology in which you take the picture with your camera but do all of the focusing, light adjustment, etc. afterwards via software. The camera captures all the light, information, etc. and the adjustments you make to your photo (like a negative) come afterwards. It's supposed to be the next step. I think it was in an Atlantic profile of innovators.

Charlie Chapman said...

Yeah, it's called a Lytro It's a consumer version of a light field camera, that can capture a bunch of different focus points.

I don't really see this technology taking off if the only thing you can do with it is change the focus later. It's not really a common problem anymore to keep your subject in focus with modern autofocus. It would just be a pain to have to go in and chose a focus point for all of your pictures later on.

Now this guy is claiming that he has unlocked some hidden awesome feature that the light field technology used in the Lytro will allow. I think it has something to do with 3D since there are ways to capture multiple angles with light field technology. I could see a cheap way to produce 3D images with a single lens taking off, but we'll haev to see.