According to a report by the Association of Image and Camera Products, the sale of dedicated cameras has never been so low since 2001, and smartphones are to blame
Gone are the times when smartphone cameras they lost badly to DSLRs. Despite the technical limitations, such as sensors and smaller lenses, the mobile industry has developed other tricks for photographing with quality comparable to traditional cameras. Such advances have even started to affect sales of professional cameras.
According to a report by AAssociation of Imaging Products and Cameras (CIPA, in English) in 2019, the total number of cameras sold year on year fell from 121 millionin 2010, for just 19 million in 2019. The survey hasn't seen sales so low since 2001, when digital cameras began to become popular.
Also according to the report, the drop was mainly due to the sale of fixed lens cameras. Usually purchased by casual and amateur photographers, they have been replaced by smartphones over the decade.
The scenario of professional cameras, with interchangeable lenses and state-of-the-art features, did not present so much loss. However, neither has it grown considerably. This is mainly due to the fact that these cameras, as the name already says, are used by professionals, in contexts where a smartphone difficultly succeed in replacing them.
But what caused the decline of DSLR cameras?
H who says that single a factor responsible for the drop in sales of dedicated cameras is the improvement in the photographic capacity of smartphones. However, this the whole truth:
Over the past decade, smartphones have not only increased their lenses and sensors, resulting in photos with better colors and richer details, as well as have developed techniques to overcome their own limitations.
Within the mobile industry it is also possible to realize that the scenario more competitive in the last three years (and that shouldn't change anytime soon) cameras. We stopped comparing smartphones based on their speed and quality of finish and started to compete for who has the best camera or the one with the resources most exclusive.
The best camera is the one that is with you
"The best camera is the one with you". The phrase by the art director, businessman and one of the biggest names in photography in the world, Chase Jarvis, explains well the reasons that have made smartphones take the place of DSLRs in recent years:
Even if you don't need a dedicated camera to shoot good shots, most of the average models on the market still get over a smartphone in challenging situations, such as in low light photos or moving scenes. However, people carry their cell phones with them, on their cameras and that makes all the difference.
With a single device it is possible to take pictures (panoramic, in some cases with optical zoom or with extreme viewing angles), record videos, take selfies, edit what was captured and publish immediately on the web. The most intuitive interface of smartphone cameras, in addition to editing apps which are easier to use than those of a computer, they are also fundamental factors for the preference for cell phones when shooting.
In addition, photography has ceased to be just a record or an artistic expression, becoming also a social habit. According to the Statista data platform, since June 2018 the Instagram has more than 1 billet active users (number that certainly grew in one year) and 500 million of these users use the social network every day.
Considering that any photo posted on a social network loses quality Due to the compressions it undergoes, it is not difficult to understand why investing in a device that only offers image quality, and almost no versatility, has lost its meaning. Unless, of course, you work with it which explains the stability in sales of professional cameras.
Computational photography: why photos are so good
Another factor that contributed in weight to the trump card smartphone smartphone computational photography. In recent years, manufacturers have figured out how to compensate for sensors and lenses, which need to be smaller on smartphones. And they did it using artificial intelligence.
It is very likely that your smartphone already has scene recognition features, for example. A few years ago, this type of function only adjusted the camera parameters so that it captures more light or color, depending on the need. Today, the function enhances photos even after they are captured, as the devices are already capable of recognize failures on the images (like blots or something that has been overshadowed) and correct them immediately.
Launched in 2016, the first generation of Google Pixel was the one who revolutionized the concept of computational photography on smartphones, and did it with very minimalist hardware for the time. Thanks to software embedded in the camera, the device was able to take multiple photos even before the user presses the shutter button and then overlap captures intelligently in order to create an image with light, perfect color and sharpness.
In a few months, the competition discovered the secret of the camera Pixel and presented their own smart cameras. Since then, the competition only gets stronger with each launch and the resources available on smartphones only expand, even though the sensors and lenses have not changed so much.
In 2019, was the Apple who decided to invest in computational photography with what the brand dubbed “Deep Fusion“. With the technology, the new iPhones promise better photos in dark environments, in addition to reducing noise and highlighting textures. The idea is not new, but it shows that the next years of mobile photography will continue to be summed up in cameras more and more smarter and consequently, able.
And you? Do you also believe that smartphones “killed” professional cameras? Leave your opinion in the comments.