Canon unit sales are down this quarter by a massive 22%. It seems cameras are going the same way as alarm clocks, pagers, calculators and road maps. Superceeded by the ubiquity and technology of the smartphone.
Nobody carries a pocket camera with them anymore. The ease of having a smartphone camera in your pocket has become too compelling and convenient. As a result compact camera sales were down 88% in the year to August 2019 across the market.
Compact cameras have all but disappeared, but all camera types are in decline. Canon interchangeable lens cameras are down 19%, as the market for entry level DSLR’s dries up. As smartphones get smarter, DSLR cameras and even mirrorless cameras are heading for the floor
It is not just the technology, but also the quality of smartphone photography that continues to improve. As this review of smartphones by a professional photographer illustrates.
When Apple launched the iPhone in 2007, the small 2MP camera would not have been seen as much of a threat to Canon’s position in the camera market. Whilst the traditional camera makers concentrated on bigger sensors and more lenses, the smartphone makers took a different route. They chose the only road they knew, which was software. The direction of this development was computational photography.
As Phil Schiller of Apple boasted that the iPhone 11‘s new computational photography abilities are “mad science.” While Sabrina Ellis from the Google Pixel team said when they introduced the new Pixel 4. “The special sauce that makes our Pixel camera unique is our computational photography.”
The photograph at the top is of my local pub at night, taken with an iPhone using night mode. Part of the iPhone’s computational photography capability. It is amazing, I would need a tripod and a long exposure to do the same with my Canon EOS R.
I am grateful to my friend Jim Boud who found this brilliant feature which explains all you need to know about the science.
As you read through this immense article you begin to realise just what a dinosaur your expensive DSLR is becoming. Computational photography is taking us to a completely new vista. Cameras that start taking photographs before you even hit the shutter. Combine tens of images to find the perfect exposure. Eliminate motion blur by combining images and even produce artificial bokeh.
Is there a future for the traditional camera? Perhaps amongst professionals and enthusiasts. Then again Apple could combine all this technology with a full frame sensor and reinvent the camera. Disrupting the market, just as they did with the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. Watch out for the relaunch of the iPhoto.
One thing is for certain if the photograph of my local pub is anything to go by, a shot in the dark will never be the same again.