Smartphones Replacing Compact Cameras?

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It has taken many years, but a consumer electronics trend is finally coming to fruition. Even I have succumbed.

I have spent the last few weeks, as I do each year, on the Mediterranean coast, mostly in places which are not globally looked on as the most attractive of summer destinations (like the Croatian island of Vis). Every year, this relatively undiscovered Adriatic jewel is more and more beset by foreign tourists, but fortunately for me, this is a far cry from the onset of hordes of holiday goers ‘enjoyed’ by the famous tourist spots on the Mediterranean, like Cannes, Dubrovnik, Ibiza or Palma de Mallorca.

The View from AbroadThe preserved peace and quiet boils down to the fact that Vis’ good reputation is spread by word of mouth from those who visited it, and not by the luxurious campaigns which the wealthier Mediterranean localities provide. However, I’m afraid that things might change — we live in a time when communicating personal experiences and comments has become the biggest marketing tool of any product, including a tourist location.

Along with Facebook, Twitter, and other online social networks, this is aided by the expansion of camera-equipped smartphones which are, for a number of reasons, far more practical than classic compact and ultra-compact cameras.

What we record with an iPhone, a Samsung Galaxy, or HTC One as ‘raw material’ can hold its ground against photographs taken by compact Canons, Olympuses, Panasonics or Sony models, while smartphones additionally offer three huge advantages over ‘regular’ cameras.

First, we can post photographs on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram the instant we take them. Everyone we are connected to in our digital life will immediately see the image, thus its ‘reach’ is incomparably greater and faster than that of photographs taken by a ‘real’ camera. Photographs of the local wonders of Vis taken by a smartphone reach more friends and acquaintances than those adventurers who merely tried their luck and decided to visit this place. The same is true of video. Therefore, this summer more than ever, the good reputation of the island of Vis is spreading thanks to phone cameras.

Second, photographs taken by a smartphone can be done up. Instagram enables everyone to fake being a professional photographer, ‘artist’ and there is a ton of similar software for iOS, Android OS, Windows Phone and other mobile platforms. Red eyes, poor frame arrangement, poor lighting, blurry or grainy photos and other problems which would spoil the pleasure of using a regular camera are now a thing of the past when it comes to using smartphones. With a bit of fumbling, every photograph can be perfect or even better with applications like Snapseed, Pixlromatic or Hipstagram.

Finally, unlike a camera, we never forget to bring our smartphone with us, which means the tool for taking images is always at hand.

Of course, smartphone cameras have many shortcomings compared to classic compact cameras, like poor flash, poor optical zoom options etc., but for everyday tourist and family shots, these are no longer deciding factors. Thus, there is still room for improvement, but the existing imaging limitations are surpassed by practicality.

AnalysisNever before this summer have I seen people who happened to be on the island of Vis taking so many photographs of everything surrounding them. They shoot the rocks, they shoot sandy beaches, they shoot ships, they shoot the azure sea, they shoot the palm trees, they shoot stone houses, they shoot seagulls, they shoot olives — all classic Mediterranean’s motifs, and solely photographed with smartphones.

Even I have given in before this plague although I took my camera to my vacation, an exquisite and ingenious Lumix of miniature dimensions and vast photographic power, I have not turned it on once in these several weeks. Still, I have more photographs than any summer before, but I took them all with an iPhone and everyone I wanted to see them has already seen them.

I don’t believe I will turn my Lumix on in the next two weeks either, which is how long I am planning on staying at the seaside. Remember this summer as the one when smartphones threw the final, lethal blow to compact digital cameras.


For the last fifteen years, Dragan Petric (www.draganpetric.com) has been working as an IT journalist, editor and analyst, with special interests in telecommunication technologies and services. In addition, he authored five books and published over 2,500 articles in many magazines and newspapers in Europe. He has attended about 30 telecommunications and IT congresses around the world and won several journalists awards for his work.

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