Sunday, December 12, 2010

The demise of point-and-shoot cameras?

I read something earlier this week on the impending demise of point-and-shoot digital cameras. The author contended that the popularity of iPhone type devices and the low cost applications for them would push the simple digital cameras out of the market.

There's no doubt some truth to that, but on reflection, I can't fully agree with it. Even my little Kodak Z1285 offers more versatility that the camera/phone units I've looked at, and the Kodak is probably obsolete already. If all you're looking for is the modern equivalent of an Instamatic with some added frills, the camera/phones will probably meet your needs. Given the right circumstances, even my old Motorola Razr can take decent images. Like this one:

Now, in a close up shot, it loses resolution and detail. But for a general view or a quick snap shot of a person, it does an OK job provided it's using the lens at full wide and without any 'digital' magnification. It's absolutely lousy for macro.

One big advantage of the camera/phones is their sheer ubiquity. They're simply everywhere, and there are so many in use that no one notices the users taking pictures. I've received some hard looks when taking street shots with either digital or film cameras, though only one person has said anything about it. Notice that young woman to the left in the coffee shop. She was not thrilled to have a camera pointed in her direction.

My first joy, though, has always been film cameras. This was taken with a Pentax MX with an M-series 28-85mm zoom on Fuji 400:

There's a bit of lens flare from the reflected sunlight in the lower right corner and it reduces the contrast a bit. But if I tried this with my camera/phone or even one of the digital P&S cameras, it would be far worse. Even those cameras would do better than the old 6x6 Rolleicord since its lens isn't coated.


Blogger lemmiwinks said...

I have to agree Ed. For what they are, phone cameras etc are great, but at this stage they are far from the equal to most, even low end, digital cameras.

I've got an ancient (by today's standards) Fuji Finepix S5500. 4 megapixel, 10x optical zoom and lots of other settings that I have to refer to the manual to have any hope of using, never mind understanding. But, it beats the pants off most phone cameras.

The macro mode is fantastic for detail shots, it has a sports mode with bracketing so it can be a rapid fire SLR (well for 3 shots anyway) and I've taken some great night time shots with night mode and the self timer.

One important feature the camera phones haven't got is an optical zoom. Digital zoom is a complete waste of time IMO, unless of course you like grainy images.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I read somewhere that the very best camera is the one you always have along when you step out the front door. In the case of that storm photo, the only camera I had was the cell phone, and it worked out OK for that shot. But today, for instance, I had an Olympus FE-320 in my pocket (about the size of a business card, but 3/8" thick) and an Olympus XA2 tucked into another pocket. The FE-320 is limited in that it won't do multiple shots and it doesn't do black and white at all. But the macro function is very good, so I use it constantly at work for photographing small circuit board details.

7:56 PM  
Blogger Prince Vasquez said...

With Entry Level DSLRs lowering it's prices today, point and shoot is threatened but there's still people that don't research too much and tend to buy the cheaper point and shoot because of the price and simplicity of functions.

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10:47 PM  
Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

What I dislike about phone cams is the unprotected lens -- I'm a sloppy guy and my lens is always smeared with zombie guts. Even the cheapest P&S cameras keep the lens covered when it's not in use.

1:56 PM  

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