The smartphone industry has disrupted photography for most consumers. And over the last couple of years, it has also started to really focus at images quality at an impressive pace and with dramatic results. A combination of hardware and software improvements – through several cameras with different lenses and computational photography, respectively, are making smartphones really great tools. The classic camera manufacturers are completely struggling, without surprises whilst making few progresses when it comes to the integration of the devices with the social features and cloud technology so easily available with smartphones or laptops or any device, even fridges are better connected sometimes than DLSR.
However, whereas the sales are likely to drop further as the shift is not over, I can already see several limits of the smartphones. Yes, they are killing the point-and-shoot business, for good reasons but photography is much more than that.
It is the ergonomics, stupid
First, it is important to remember many people like to take photography as an end in itself. They go out or organize a photoshoot to take pictures. So, they don’t care if the device is a little bit too heavy or too bulky. What they need is the right device to take images like they want or like they need. To that respect, smartphones are hardly a match as their primary function is not to take images. Touchscreen so far can’t beat devices built on purpose for photographers with instant access to whatever customization or parameter is needed.
The limits of physics
Of course, you can’t match the sensor’s size and interchangeable lenses for dedicated purposes. No need to go in further details. To those who claim computational photography is going to disrupt much more, I think it is important to differentiate “integration of the camera with the smartphone” from post-processing, whatever it may be.
Computational photography can work with more than smartphones’ cameras
Indeed, there is no reason not to implement the technology to DSLR or mirrorless bodies when it comes to computational photography. Basically, there are different steps and the question is more how to integrate them altogether:
- Collecting the light into a digital image through lenses and sensor (hardware stuff)
- Computational and post-processing automated (whatever it is)
- Storing and sharing images (social networks, cloud services).
At a point of time, I tend to believe gaps are narrowing. Like internet did not kill the television, smartphones and stand-alone cameras will certainly live together for years but not like today. At the end of the day, what is specific will prevail and the new technology will have replaced the old one in what was flawed or inefficient, for the better.