Camera shops are becoming scarce. The total shipment of digital cameras in 2015 has a projected decrease of 20 percent. An entire generation of perfectly efficient Nikons and Olympus cameras lie at the back of drawers, under a soft blanket of dust, forgotten. As much as enthusiasts may not want to hear it, the digital camera is suffering the most painful death of all: replacement.
That’s not to say that all cameras are going the way of the dodo bird – DSLR cameras will always have their market amongst keen photographers and those who have the money to spend on that extra level of image quality, while film cameras will always have the appeal held by any vintage items (the human disposition towards nostalgia is always a way to rake in some dough). Yet while these forms of photography have kept a strong market, the fully-functioning point and shoot cameras have fallen by the wayside.
Taken on an LG G4
The reason isn’t hard to find. With camera phones today hotly competing to wield the biggest sensors, best resolution, and largest amount of megapixels, these pesky newcomers have made digital cameras somewhat obsolete. The recently released LG G4 possesses what is arguably the best phone camera of the moment, allowing the user total manual mode, built-in image stabilisation, and the ability to capture images in RAW mode. Only recently while out with a photographer friend of mine, he switched between his G4 and his (very fancy, very expensive) DSLR to capture landscape shots, and admitted that there was barely any difference in image quality.
Even without going for a top of the range phone, so many mobiles now have cameras that reach similar results as any standard digital camera. I only recently discovered the wealth of settings I can manipulate on my Samsung S5, and, particularly after employing the HDR function, found myself with holiday snapshots of such high quality I can still barely believe I captured them myself with the same dinky gadget I use to send ugly selfies to my friends on Snapchat.
That, of course, goes further in explaining why people are abandoning their Canons and sticking to Apple: when we can achieve the same level of image quality from the pocket-sized phone that is by our side all day every day, why would we go out of our way to take another, bulkier piece of technology too? Mobile phones have steadily and stealthily become the easy and accessible way of carrying everything we need. In a culture of social media that is becoming more and more geared to sharing our life through images (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr), the ease with which smartphones allow us to upload the pictures we take far outstrips any camera. Gone are the days of passing around a small-screened camera at a family gathering so everyone can see your Majorca holiday snaps, now with a click of a button those photos can be sent to anyone, anywhere – almost instantly.
Captured on a Samsung S5 using the HDR function
It would be easy to say that this technology has made us lazier, to curse the very smartphones that we rely on for pushing us ever closer to the obese, inert examples of human beings seen in ‘Wall-E’. But really, is that claim founded? Most of the standard digital cameras possessed the same amount of options and settings that the user could manipulate as the new smartphone cameras have. Beyond that, they both demanded the same amount of effort from the shooter: simply pressing a button.
If anything has changed, it is only that now rather than finding out the specific computer cable (that inevitably would have slithered around ten other almost identical-looking cables) and waiting a lifetime to upload the files to your desktop, then again to Facebook, we can now share our memories with a simple click and a little sprinkle of internet access.
Yes, like most old technology, point and shoot cameras seem to have shuffled into obsolescence. But don’t blame smartphones for giving them a hefty nudge in that direction. Revel, instead, in the way people have come so far as to incorporate the same, if not higher, quality of camera into that quiet little saviour we keep in our pockets.
And if the nostalgia hits too hard, remember: you can always pick up disposable cameras on the cheap at your local drugstore. Happy snapping!