January 16, 2014
The terminal decline of the standalone camera
This rather excellent feature about the transition from camera to smartphones by Craig Mod was doing the rounds over the festive period:
After importing the results into Lightroom, Adobe's photo-development software, it was difficult to distinguish the GX1's photos from the iPhone 5's. (That's not even the latest iPhone; Austin Mann's superlative results make it clear that the iPhone 5S operates on an even higher level.) Of course, zooming in and poking around the photos revealed differences: the iPhone 5 doesn't capture as much highlight detail as the GX1, or handle low light as well, or withstand intense editing, such as drastic changes in exposure. But it seems clear that in a couple of years, with an iPhone 6S in our pockets, it will be nearly impossible to justify taking a dedicated camera on trips like the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage.
Just after new year, the extended family took Hazel to Bristol Aquarium, an experience that filled my newly-minted toddler with absolute delight. But while she was squealing at every aquatic resident she could see, and dragging her grandma around the place, I was people-watching. And it was really clear to me that I only saw one other people using anything other than a smartphone to take photos in the four or five hours we were there. There was one employee with a camera, as well. He didn't get to use it, though, as his job was to sell people portraits shot in front of a tank of colourful fish.
He didn't sell one. People just walked up, took a selfie in front of the tank, and walked off.
Dedicated cameras are rapidly becoming a minority activity - and I say that as someone with two DSLRs and an Olympus CSC within arm's reach of me. The day of the compact is all but done, and the SLR and CSC will only survive for the professional and the most committed hobbyist.
When you can take photos like the one below and share them immediately with a smartphone, that's exactly how the world should be.
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