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Tuesday
Jan112011

A Step Backwards or a Giant Leap Forward?

Advancements in DSLR technology have given us super high-resolution sensors, HD video capability, low noise at high ISOs, and rapid fire burst modes.  Yet, despite these amazing features, the number one most used camera in the entire Flickr community is... the iPhone 3G. 



As you can see in the chart above, the 2 megapixel iPhone is followed by the Nikon D90, and the Canon Rebel XSi.  Is this 2 megapixel camera with no manual exposure control a major step backwards or is it a leap in the right direction? Before answering, check out the reasons I think we are seeing this shift.

 

  • It's small enough to be taken anywhere.
  • Since it's a phone, it's always with you.
  • Built in 3G and Wifi makes uploading quick and convenient.
  • A number of mobile editing apps are easy to use, and encourage experimentation.
  • Back to basics, no worrying about apertures and shutter speeds.  Just point, shoot, and share.

 

All of this has me wondering if and when we will see this type of interactive functionality in newer digital cameras.  How big would the market be for a DSLR with built in 3G/4G capability? 

 

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

 

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Reader Comments (15)

I think this is a step backwards. Point and shoot photography is for everyone. It takes a true photographer to use a SLR camera and appreciate the true art behind photography.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleander
I agree with the first comment. I don't think you can refer to yourself as a "photographer" if you're ONLY using a cell phone to take pictures. too simple.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRachel
Appreciate the feedback. Would you consider Alex Majoli a pro? http://www.robgalbraith.com/bins/multi_page.asp?cid=7-6468-7844
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNYIP
I think it's a little of both. Most people like to have a camera with them all the time, just for that one moment when you don't have to say, "gee, I wish I had a camera." And for the moment a little p&s works well. But for those who do photography a lot, the little camera won't suit them when they have the big job to do. So, it's a step back if that's all you think you need, but a step in the right direction for when you want to travel light and have all you need in one piece of equipment.

BTW, I don't own one, in case you are wondering, but I do have a p&s with me at all times... :-)
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn C. Riffey
Oh I don't believe p&s cameras are bad for any photographer. Obviously Mr Galbraith is a very good photographer with they eye for it. He was able to capture some really great photos with a small, easily portable camera. I am saying that this statistic above shouldn't be taken literally because so many different people who don't have any idea about good photography can have access to an iPhone and use it. But they are not the type of people to go out and buy a SLR. My experience with Flickr (with not offense to anyone) but my teenage cousins use it all the time.... with their cell phones.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterleander
As an example, if you shot this scene with your DSLR http://www.tuaw.com/2009/01/16/iphone-pix-making-front-pages/ you would have lost the sale to the person next to you with an iPhone. Sure, you're photos would have been crisper, and better exposed, but the ability to share quickly is lost on a DSLR at the moment. We are not suggesting that camera phones replace DSLR, but how about combining the best of both worlds?
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNYIP
The stat is too surprising or worrisome, really. We always need to keep in mind the purpose of the picture we're taking, that is it's end use. The rules of composition don't change just because it's a cell phone; I used to have a cell phone that allowed me to take really fun but ultimately silly self portraits. These were not pictures I would have framed and give to my mom for Christmas. I think it's important to understand who uses flicker, too. While it's a great photo sharing tool, it's not limited to "serious photography". It's a resource for everyone. I would never expect everyone to go out an purchase an SLR, but almost everyone does have a cell phone camera with them.

As to the second supposition. I think a DSLR with some sort of wifi/4G capability would be a potential game changer, not that I would anticipate it would replace the ease and frequency of the cell phone camera, but it would definitely speed along the process of getting the picture out to the end user. However, with those larger RAW files, you need a really fast service provider, and a really fast processor in the camera to make it handy.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Fischer
Linda, you make several excellent points including, "...with those larger RAW files, you need a really fast service provider, and a really fast processor in the camera to make it handy. " Very true indeed. Makes you wonder if something like this is just around the bend: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6193XH20100210
Thanks for adding your voice to the discussion.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNYIP
I don't think it's the camera that makes the picture it's the person behind the camera.So it doesn't matter if it cost $5.99 or $15,000.00, they can both give magnificent photo's. You just have to care about what your photographing and do it right.
January 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynetta
That was a fascinating article, and I think this is definitely the future for computing and telecommunication, not to mention the marketing implications and the entertainment industry. Even if the camera itself is slower to adapt to this capability, I can't help but wonder if there isn't a way that it can communicate with another device that would allow an upload of content wirelessly...somehow reading memory cards or internal memory?
January 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLynda Fischer
Is this really a step backwards? If you are looking at Flickr or any other on-line community saying, "Gee, more photos are from iPhones and other Camera Phones than anything else" then you need to take into account that those phones make it much easier and quicker to post photos. People are excited and posting a lot of stuff they may not have posted in the post, let alone even taken if they didn't have a cellphone camera that let them post right to their site. I don't think this indicates that photographers are taking a step back, I just think more people are posting photos than before.

That brings to the second point that I noticed in one or more of the replies indicating that true photographers would not use a cellphone or or simple P&S camera because it's too simple. Need I remind everyone of point taught by NYIP? "It's not the camera, it's the Photographer". I love my DSLRs and use them a lot and love the control. I don't always have my DSLR with me for obvious reasons. Anytime I want to do serious work, the DSLR comes out. But I'm not going to miss an opportunity because I only have my iPhone. I've taken some pretty decent photos with that thing that I'd otherwise not been able to capture too!.

Anyway, let's keep things in perspective here. Just because everyone is using camera phones and posting photos, doesn't detract from the more serious people using more serious equipment and their skills.
January 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Batson
I think it is a step forward for average people that like average low res pics that they can post online. Serious photographers will still use higher quality equipment, be it a point and shoot or SLR. I have read time and time again in my course that it is the violinist not the violin that is important to great photos. I have to agree. I have made some amazing pics when all I have had with me is my P&S that I take everywhere with me due to its small size. Although my iPhone 4's camera can take pics that are just as good, albeit without manual controls. I have a preference to manual controls, as I am a control freak when it comes to my pics because anyone can use the auto setting. So it all depends, know some people are touchy about someone that is not in the business or art for that matter calling themselves a photographer but that is why we have the distinction, of amateur, advanced amateur, and pro photographers.
January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThomas Larsen
This isn't a step backward at all.

You use the tool that makes sense for the job.

If an artist can make a living or statement with a particular tool, then it's the right tool for the job.

If the average Joe can take decent web pics on an iPhone, how is that any different than the old 110 format of years ago (ok, I'm aging myself)?

But when you want quality versions of photos for prints, albums or magazines, I doubt very much the right tool for those mediums will be a device with a tiny sensor, few megapixels, and little creative control.

The general public gravitates to the tools that get the job done decently but tend to be the most convenient.

Professionals and enthusiasts tend to use tools that produce the best results within an acceptable price range.

Not much has changed since the 60's, huh, looking at it from the broad perspective...(dang, aging myself again).

I agree, and disagree, with the general notion that it's the photographer, not the tool. The general idea is correct, no fancy tool is going to make up for a photographer's lack of skills. However, anyone who's been in this business for enough years fully realizes that there are many lighting situations that can be very difficult to photograph well with inferior equipment. Even impossible. Try to shoot an available light concert where there's very little light - try setting your iPhone at 3200 or 6400 ISO - ok, yeah, right. Even if that setting was available (maybe it is, I don't have an iPhone), the quality would have the smoothness of a gravel road. But some SLRs produce excellent photos at 6400. You could describe 100s of other situations where good photographers are going to get much better results using the right equipment...back to the right tool for the job deal.
January 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDale Jansen
I've already seen the undermining effects of ..."Isn't this a good! photo!!" someone cries. By which they mean "considering it was taken with my cellphone." Too much of that and the idea(l) of what constitutes a "good photo" gets undermined. Which is not to say there aren't some important, personal moments captured http://www.flickr.com/cameras/apple/iphone_3g/
Perhaps it's the lack of planning/thinking? just hold it up and click! Or do we feel the way film shooters did when digital first came on the scene, monks when the printing press was invented, etc, etc?
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