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What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014? 422

Iddo Genuth writes 2013 was the worst year for the photography industry in decades — but what happened in 2014 and will the upcoming blitz of cameras (including the super resolution Canon 5D S with 50MP sensor to be announced tomorrow) change everything in 2015? The official numbers published by CIPA (the Camera & Imaging Products Association) are out and they tell a story of a struggling photography industry trying to stay afloat in a sea of smartphones. Will it survive? This is the big question all of the photography manufacturers are facing over the past two years, and eventually what does it all mean for us as consumers? One thing that tiny phones lack, no matter their megapixel count, is the space for heavy glass or large sensors, which seems to leave a lot of room in the market even for small(ish) but dedicated cameras.
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What Happened To the Photography Industry In 2014?

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  • What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:30PM (#48992961) Homepage Journal

    Eyes didn't get better. I still use my crappy Canon S3, terrible low-light performance and crappy image stabilization and all.

    • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by grumpy_old_grandpa ( 2634187 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:45PM (#48993105)
      Monitors did get a lot better, and with higher resolution, though. With 4k (3840 x 2160 or 4096 x 2160), or even 8k (7680×4320) you don't have to zoom out to a fraction of the original size any more. In fact, with your S3 of some 6 MP, you can see the picture in 100%. It means details like noise, camera shake will be more apparent.
      • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by 50000BTU_barbecue ( 588132 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:51PM (#48993153) Homepage Journal

        None of which keeps me up at night. It's long past the point of diminishing returns for me. As well as audio, computers in general, and "smart" phones. Either I don't care, or there's really no difference anymore. It's not like we're going from the Commodore 64 to the Amiga to the PC, or from LPs to cassettes to CDs.

        • by kenj123 ( 658721 )
          We shot a lot of slides when I was a kid. When I first saw kodachrome it blew my mind. I wish there was anything today that could compare. I have a 4k monitor and view 10MP pictures on it but its not even close. I guess i'll have to wait for the 8k projectors.
          • The newest iPhone and Samsung cameras don't even come close to taking pictures near the quality of my ~$100 Canon point and shoot compact. I love photography and taking photos but am not a pro. But until my smartphone stops ruining so may great photo opportunities for me, I will always own a dedicated camera and carry it whenever I go on likely photo-heavy outings. Don't even get me started on the low light performance of these pieces of sh*t cameraphones!

            • by rnturn ( 11092 )

              The low-light performance is the killer feature for me and DSLR. I'd never give that up. The low-light photos that I've taken with my smartphone look like someone push processed Tri-X to about 3200ASA. (And in color it looks even worse.) Plus the camera in the phone takes forever to focus. My phone's camera is my camera of last resort. Only used when I have nothing else available.

              • I remember pushing Tech Pan and using gas baths for astro photography.
            • Re:What happened? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Bert64 ( 520050 ) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Friday February 06, 2015 @02:52AM (#48996061) Homepage

              The current crop of phone cameras are certainly still inferior to dedicated cameras, but they're good enough for most people most of the time and thats what matters.
              Most people won't carry a camera with them at all times, but they do carry a phone and its good enough for occasional shots. A lot of those images are going to end up posted online at significantly lower resolution than even a phone camera can manage anyway, and they will be viewed on tiny screens.
              Aside from the convenience of being always in your pocket, phones have the added convenience of connectivity so you can upload your pictures immediately.

              Proper cameras will always be a niche for those who enjoy photography or do it for a living, but for the vast majority of people a phone camera is all they will ever need.

          • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2015 @11:35PM (#48995549)

            We shot a lot of slides when I was a kid. When I first saw kodachrome it blew my mind. I wish there was anything today that could compare. I have a 4k monitor and view 10MP pictures on it but its not even close. I guess i'll have to wait for the 8k projectors.

            Watch this and be blown away:
            www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRzXgSMbBu0

        • Re:What happened? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by pslytely psycho ( 1699190 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:39PM (#48993621) Journal
          Personally, I think the difference has just become too small between inexpensive (truly cheap gear still sounds cheap) and high end, especially in sound gear. I bought a mid-range sound system for my home setup (47" 3D TV, 32" monitor, hooked into my computer, finally able to cut the cord, thanks to Popcorn time filling my Wife's series needs, Yea!!!) and it sounds better than my old system
          I have a pair of vintage B&O speakers, amp, tuner and platter from the 70's that I spent an obscene amount of money for. Outdone by a $1700 Polk audio TSX440T system. Now, I realize the speakers have degraded over time, as has my hearing (56 yo) but I think this system would of given it a run for its money had it been available back in the day. (My aging B&O system now is in the family room and still sounds great, With the resurgence of vinyl, I really wish the platter had survived, but it died 20 years ago and was prohibitively expensive to repair.)
          I think you really have to go with professional flat response speakers to have any significant improvement over the midrange consumer market today.
          Off to mow the lawn and chase off pesky young'uns.
      • Wouldn't Camera shake for cameras mean a need for faster image acquisition? Same sensor improvement should help in low light conditions.

      • by Smauler ( 915644 )

        Wait.... which monitors got better? Cheap monitors are undeniably better now, but I kept an old CRT around for ages because it was much better with some things, most importantly for me response time.

        Response time has got much worse with the advent of anything but CRT.

        Now, I'll agree that monitors got cheaper, and higher resolution, but not necessarily better. 120hz is rare now, too.

        • Wait.... which monitors got better? Cheap monitors are undeniably better now, but I kept an old CRT around for ages because it was much better with some things, most importantly for me response time.

          Response time has got much worse with the advent of anything but CRT.

          Now, I'll agree that monitors got cheaper, and higher resolution, but not necessarily better. 120hz is rare now, too.

          Sorry but what the hell does response time have to do with photography and viewing the resulting photographs on the monitor? Go back to playing your FPS.

          • by Smauler ( 915644 )

            User interface.

            Any delay is bad, and response time reflects that. If you're _only_ taking photos and looking at them, then response time does not matter. Anything else, it's important.

      • by jandrese ( 485 )
        Kind of. For most people they're lucky to get 1080p with their computer. A majority of 15" laptops still ship with horrible 1366x786 panels on them. While there are some 4k panels that are entering the mainstream, they're still pretty rare at this point.
    • by Smauler ( 915644 )

      The Canon S3 has much better lenses than any smartphone. That's the difference, and it's the only real difference. If we could make lenses smaller, and light behave in accordance with something that is not physics, we'd all have professional class cameras now.

      The megapixel drive, whilst valuable, has ignored the fact that you can't get all that much from a tiny lens. The megapixel count on smartphones is largely irrelevant now, because of the lens restrictions.

      • MP = BS (Score:5, Interesting)

        by monkeyzoo ( 3985097 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:27PM (#48993493)

        The megapixel count has already been irrelevant for 5 years or more, even on actual digital CAMERAS! Any astute consumer will note that the higher-end cameras by each manufacturer have FEWER megapixels than the entry level models in the series. For the entry-level, megapixel count is a dick-measuring contest to attract naive and ignorant shoppers.

        • To be honest one reason they have a lower resolution is that they refresh the top end models a lot less frequently.

          • Re:MP = BS (Score:5, Interesting)

            by monkeyzoo ( 3985097 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @07:56PM (#48994193)

            No, it's because less megapixels allows more light to reach each pixel on the sensor. Megapixels does not equal quality.
            And to be clear, I was speaking of new models released within months of each other across price points. Do a research of the last 12 months of cameras from Canon or Panasonic on a photography review site and you will see through The Matrix that is mass consumer marketing.

            • I used to think like you and I have been amazingly corrected.

              While you're right that less megapixels = more light the interesting side effect to having more megapixels is that any kind of digital noise filtering will have more effect on noise. When the sensor resolution is higher than the resolution of the optical system, or the final viewing system it is possible to apply incredible amounts of noise reduction intelligently and not have the final image affected in any meaningful way.

              I used to think like you

    • Monitors got better, and printers got ... well not better necessarily, but better printers got cheaper. (Cheap enough that you can get Kodak kiosk level quality for a modest price at home.) I'd argue that presentation (display, print) has improved, but at the same time, consumer expectations have changed -- now they're not looking for a few high quality photos, they're looking for snaps of everyday life, in a format that is easily shared and (in some cases) easily manipulated.

    • Compact cameras suck and a lot of them are even worse stock than smartphone cameras with good built-in software. That is one of the problems.

      What is needed basically is the new Leica. A compact camera with the quality of a DSLR but that can fit into a pocket. That requires some way to fold the glass piece or whatever. The problem is can you make it good enough (sensitivity to light, low noise sensor, flash, fast capture time) to matter or not? The main manufacturers don't want to cut into their DSLR revenue

      • by sphealey ( 2855 )

        So, basically the Fujifilm X100 series then?

        sPh

        XT-1 if you really need interchangeable lenses.

      • What is needed basically is the new Leica.

        That would be the Leica-as-Panasonic then? Same glass, but you pay Panasonic prices.

        The main manufacturers don't want to cut into their DSLR revenue so they hobble their compacts so much they are basically useless.

        Speaking of Panasonic, that's what's pissed me off about their strategy with bridge cameras, after the FZ30 it took them ten years to produce a successor, the FZ1000, because they didn't want to undercut their GH line, and even then they only came out with the '1000 because of Sony's RX10. This did however introduce me to a completely novel experience, that of being glad Sony exists.

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:35PM (#48993003) Homepage Journal

    I expect that the camera-equipped smartphone is decimating the market for cameras that can only do what smartphone cameras can already do.

    I also expect that it is decimating the market for that slightly-better cameras that people would have bought if it wasn't included "free" in the phone they already own.

    I would be surprised if it is putting a big dent the $700+ market. Heck, with everyone carrying a camera around, there are probably some people who find they enjoy photography and want to upgrade to a DSLR that otherwise would not have.

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      I expect that the camera-equipped smartphone is decimating the market for cameras that can only do what smartphone cameras can already do. I also expect that it is decimating the market for that slightly-better cameras that people would have bought if it wasn't included "free" in the phone they already own.

      That's something of an understatement, smartphones has all but wiped out the point-n-shoot camera market that used to be huge. Granted, you can't make miracles but I remember when they only really worked outdoors and anything indoors was total shit. Now they actually make okay consumer quality photos under all normal conditions.

      Sure they're no match for a pro DSLR but unless you got the camera on hand and time to fiddle with all those control rings, swap lenses, set white balance and whatnot he who catches

    • I don't think niches are so neatly compartmentalized as you envision. If I have a smartphone with a "good enough" camera, I'll be less likely to buy a better camera even if I know the quality is not on par.

    • I would be surprised if it is putting a big dent the $700+ market.

      The problem in that market the last couple of years isn't smartphones. It's the lingering effects of the economic crash (amateurs aren't buying cameras, and fewer are hiring pros which means they aren't buying) combined with the camera releases of the last few years largely being unexciting. DSLR tech is plateauing and as a result upgrade cycles are getting longer.

    • Quite true. But keep in mind that this might not be free of cost (or effects) for those of us at the middle-to-high end. There's probably a bunch of "infrastructure" and overhead-type costs that are currently shared across different market segments.

      For instance, Canon uses the same DIGIC [wikipedia.org] signal and image processing chips across a bunch of different models: professional and consumer DSLRs as well as whole lines of point-and-shoots. If big pieces of the point-and-shoot market evaporate, then the cost of dev

  • Optics! (Score:3, Informative)

    by wikthemighty ( 524325 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:36PM (#48993011)
    Really, the only thing my SLR does better than my phone is Optics, which makes distance & low-light photos possible. Taking a snap of what you had for lunch? My phone does that just as well as the SLR.
    • My rather low end DSLR is orders of magnatude better than my iPhone camera. The ONLY things the iPhone can get even a semi-decent photo of is something that is in bright sunlight and not moving. Now for photos of lunch, even an etch-a-sketch can do that ;)
    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      > Really, the only thing my SLR does better than my phone is Optics, which makes distance & low-light photos possible.

      That's kind of like saying that the only thing that other cameras (not just SLR) do better is EVERYTHING.

      There's also something to be said for a better and dedicated interface on a real camera. Controls that can be operated with less conscious futzing.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        He has no idea what he's talking about anyway. Starting from the sensor out, a good DSLR exceeds every technical and visual mark a camera phone can hit. Camera phones have exactly one primo advantage: ease of use. That ease is itself a combination of three things -- first, you almost always have the thing, and second, they have to make the camera systems so automatic and generic that anyone can use them by tapping a finger, and third, the means of getting that photo to other people -- sharing -- has been s

    • There are quite a few things a good SLR would do than a (stock) smartphone. I think there is like some Venn Diagram of things that an SLR would be good at, and things that a phone would be good at, and though there's some overlap in the middle, there are a lot of things that both do better than the other.

      1) Smartphone lenses are fixed focal length and usually pretty wide angle. My 5s has the 35mm equiv of 25MM focal length, pretty wide. It sucks for portraits, which should be 70-120mm (35mm equiv). Suck

  • LFI (Score:4, Informative)

    by MouseR ( 3264 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:38PM (#48993029) Homepage

    Get me an affordable light field imaging camera and I might spend as much as I did on my phone. Otherwise, it's still just pictures and I dont see the point in carrying another device which doesn't offer significant advantages to what my phone provides.

  • by Russ1642 ( 1087959 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:39PM (#48993039)

    Camera size has always been a big factor in photography. Smartphone cameras have that locked down solid. There's simply no competition to always having a decent small camera in your pocket all the time. The camera market has reverted back to only being for true hobbyists that want something better than what their phone gives them.

  • Idiots... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by danbert8 ( 1024253 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:41PM (#48993059)

    Most people don't understand photography. The amount of people who know what F numbers, exposure time, and ISO mean are insufficient to support a camera market. Most people just want to mash a button and get a picture. Phones give them that. They aren't going to make prints, they aren't going to adjust color and contrast after the fact. They'll probably just slap a filter on it and tweet it. You ever been to the zoo or an aquarium? How many people turn off the flash when taking a picture of something through glass? Not many...

    Meanwhile people who fancy themselves photographers buy the most expensive DSLR they can with the biggest lens and push people aside to get their prize photos, which they get with the automatic shooting mode... The demand for professional photos is dropping. Quantity is making quality less important. If you have 100 people with iPhones that can take print quality pictures at your wedding, out of the thousands of pictures that will be taken some are bound to be great. Sure a wedding photographer will get better ones, higher quality ones, closer ones. But is it worth the expense? First you have to pay the photographer, then you have to pay for the rights to the photo (assuming you can even obtain copyright ownership), then you probably have to pay for prints. When all most people will do is save it on their computer for posterity and post a bunch of pics on Facebook.

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      The problem with "just mashing a button" is that quite often that isn't nearly good enough. Even if you are treating a more dedicated camera in the same way as a phone, it simply has more interesting capabilities.

      Anything beyond a carefully curated still life is going to be out of a phone camera's capabilities.

      It really doesn't matter how easy it is to create a big blurry blob. That's not anything you want to actually keep.

      • by itzly ( 3699663 )

        Most people don't really keep their photos anyway. They show them to their (online) friends, and get on with their life.

    • Great points!

      Quantity is making quality less important

      This and most of what you said could be applied to the music space as well.
      These (music and photography) are two of the most recent skilled professions to become obsolete, just wait until they have perfected the affordable consumer edition 3d printer... professions will disappear quicker than do-do birds...

  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:42PM (#48993073) Homepage

    Those of us interested in DSLR cameras are at the point of diminishing returns. I didn't buy a new DSLR or any new glass in 2014, and hardly got anything new in 2013. Why? Because the longevity of the equipment keeps increasing. I'm currently shooting with a 5D Mark II, and all but the most absolute extreme conditions does this camera perform nearly perfectly. The same goes for the lens collection in my bag, they cover more than 99% of the conditions that I'm shooting it. It is very rare where I'm feeling like the equipment is the limiting factor to the point where I want to invest the money to replace it.

    These are tools. They don't follow the same mindset as other consumer electronics that work on annual cycles. When was the last time you thought about replacing your hammer because there is a newer model built with a slightly different design? That's exactly how many of us feel in the photography world right now.

    • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:08PM (#48993315)

      +1 Insightful
      -1 Choose Canon

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Quite right. I feel the same about my point-and-shoot camera. It is not broken so I won't "fix" it. I do occasionally pine for a more capable camera but I don't really want to lug such a beast around.

      • "I do occasionally pine for a more capable camera but I don't really want to lug such a beast around."
        Just get a Fuji X100. It's light as a feather. A bit slower than a _good_ DSLR though.

    • You hit it right on the nose. I have a 60D with a couple nice lenses on it and for my hobby purposes I will be hanging onto this for the next 5 years at least and that's a camera that's just above the low end of the DSLR market. Something like the 5DMkII is built like such a tank and puts out images that only the top-end gear could beat it and even then it's closer than what Canon/Nikon would like you to believe.

      I would imagine with the lens and camera rentals becoming more mainstream more people will
    • by grcumb ( 781340 )

      Those of us interested in DSLR cameras are at the point of diminishing returns. I didn't buy a new DSLR or any new glass in 2014, and hardly got anything new in 2013. Why? Because the longevity of the equipment keeps increasing. I'm currently shooting with a 5D Mark II, and all but the most absolute extreme conditions does this camera perform nearly perfectly. The same goes for the lens collection in my bag, they cover more than 99% of the conditions that I'm shooting it. It is very rare where I'm feeling like the equipment is the limiting factor to the point where I want to invest the money to replace it.

      The 5D Mark II is a really nice little camera. It hits the sweet spot in so many ways that I can understand perfectly why you'd be content with it.

      I'm a Nikon guy myself, and had much the same attitude about my last camera body. But then I got a D800 and realised that technology had moved on a long way from the D700 or D3. The dynamic range and light sensitivity is now better than the human eye. I can shoot up to about ISO 6400 and, thanks to the 32MP, full-frame CMOS, still get a useful shot. I generally s

    • by JanneM ( 7445 )

      These are tools.

      Off on a tangent, but yes, these are tools. And the tool we use shapes not just the result but what we attempt to do, and how we approach the task. In other words, irregardless of the technical similarities, using a different kind of camera (or camera-lens combination) will give you different results.

      As a simple example, if you have a long zoom lens on your DSLR, you will look for, and shoot, very different kinds of pictures than if you had a small, wide fix-focus lens on it. A DSLR will inv

    • Agreed. I bought a mid-range Nikon DSLR a couple of years ago (after having spent many years in film photography as a Nikon guy), but I end up still mostly using either my aging Canon prosumer G9 point-and-shoot or the cheap cell phone that's in my pocket.

      Sadly, my old vintage Nikon lenses aren't nearly as useful as I thought they would be because even though some are nominally compatible, you give up so many automatic features that even those aren't very useful. So much for Nikon's famous backwards-compa

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:43PM (#48993081)

    For everyday use, cell phones have gutted the compact camera market. Not much more to say. That leaves the mid to high end market of amateur photographers looking at DSLR's and such. Even that market has a few hurdles, though. First, photography is the kind of hobby that sounds really interesting and great but has not only a high learning curve but also requires a ton of dedication, which leads to a high burnout rate among amateurs. Second, and more importantly, GoPro type recorders are way more interesting and easier to use for most people looking to get into a visual hobby. They can mount one on whatever they have (bike, helmet, drone, car, whatever) and immediately start sharing fun and interesting stuff to their circle of friends.

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:43PM (#48993087)

    There will always be a market for professionals and prosumers, but the problem is that their products are generally priced high enough that they form a barrier to entry for more casual users. Casual users are generally happy with their smartphone cameras, and they're not going to make the jump to a dedicated camera unless they can get something that is a significant improvement at a reasonable price. DSLRs are generally still $400ish, and mirrorless are typically even more than that. That's just not enough to convert people with a casual interest. If they sold something like the Rebel SL1/EOS 100D for $200, they might get people who are curious, but they're not.

    What's the cost to make one of these things really like? Because it would seem that advancements in manufacturing technology should have driven the cost down dramatically over time, and it doesn't seem like that's happened. Are the camera manufacturers just unwilling to undercut themselves, to accept lower margins? The problem is that the effective cost of a smartphone camera is $0 for most people, and that's definitely undercutting standalone cameras...

    • by edis ( 266347 )

      A lot of casual users discovered and joined Lomography and toy camera movements. These cameras are accessible and very playful, adding own character to resulting pictures. The problem with prosumer cameras is not only their upper pricing, but that they are quite boring with disposable digital as medium.

  • Sure, the phone beats out the camera for convenience. But if you need to take two pictures in less than 10 seconds? Forget it, most phones do a truly awful job of that - if they can do it at all. Camera makers need to sell more cameras that can take pictures FAST. When the camera can go from off to having taken a picture in less than 10 seconds, and take another in less than that amount of time, it is faster than any phone out there.

    A lot of people say it's all about the optics, which is true when c
    • Sure, the phone beats out the camera for convenience. But if you need to take two pictures in less than 10 seconds? Forget it, most phones do a truly awful job of that - if they can do it at all. Camera makers need to sell more cameras that can take pictures FAST. When the camera can go from off to having taken a picture in less than 10 seconds, and take another in less than that amount of time, it is faster than any phone out there

      I don't know what low-end phone you're using, but I can take my phone out of my pocket and snap a picture in less than 6 seconds (just tried it) - and another one immediately after, etc ... or I can take a video AND stills at the same time. I guess there's a speed advantage to being "always-on" that cameras can't match.

    • by unimacs ( 597299 )
      I'm not sure I understand how this is any harder to achieve with a smart phone. My phone is rarely turned completely off and I can access the camera feature without even unlocking tit. I can easily take 2 pictures within 10 seconds and with burst mode I can get 10 within 1 second.

      Even if I'm missing something I can't imagine that this is an inherent advantage to a dedicated camera that improvements in technology won't eliminate.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    People discovered that paying thousands to have a photographer take pics of your wedding (or event), then finding out that you'll need to pay him extra for every single print of a picture from his reel is actually a huge scam. Photographers gave themselves a terrible name as scam artists doing this and as such once cameras for the rest of us sucked less we took our own pictures.

    Digital photography just made the scam obvious when you took your own wedding photos to Walmart and they told you they couldn't pr

    • by Anonymice ( 1400397 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:25PM (#48993463)

      A good professional photographer is definitely worth it, especially for once-in-a-lifetime events such as weddings. The problem is digital photography made the barrier to entry much lower & the market is now flooded with point-&-shoot cowboys who don't know their bokeh from their flare.
      Photography is an expensive & time consuming profession & it takes a lot of experience to know how to work an event & your subjects well. Taking pictures is about a 10th of the total work involved.

      In the UK, if you're paying under £1.5k per day, then your "photographer" probably spends most of his other days driving a taxi.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @05:54PM (#48993191)

    I just dropped off a couple of rolls of 120 at the lab.

    • by itzly ( 3699663 )

      One person still using rolls of film does not mean "going strong".

      • You are funny, what with Amazon selling 10 packs of film in 35mm rolls, 4x5, 120mm.....and plenty of labs on the net to ship for development. Lots of photographers still into it and likely doing both film and digital.

  • Is the one you have with you at the time you need to take a picture.

    • Is the one you have with you at the time you need to take a picture.

      ...If you really enjoy wallowing in a sense of regret as you review the shots that is...

  • Since I am keen and current collector and analogue photographer, I could see similar thing happening, that is happening to vinyl records. There is surprisingly lot of buzz going on. Now most of action, however, shifted towards places like Flickr and eBay: good lenses are on sale for big money, good analogue cameras of the past do interest collectors in large numbers, and in all their variety, toy camera movement is noticeable and many outstanding plastic cameras are made again either with improvements or wi

  • by mccrew ( 62494 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:03PM (#48993275)
    There are a lot of innovations that are going into the smartphone platforms compared to the big SLR platforms.

    Yes, the optics are better on DSLR, and there are more bells and whistles, but...

    Here are just a few features that can be done quickly and with relative ease on a phone, and are a lot more hassle on a DSLR.

    • * Time lapse - Instagram Hyperlapse [instagram.com] is an incredibly cool app which uses a phone's built-in accelerometer to compensate for movement, and is able to create handheld time lapses. Compare that with a typical DSLR which would need a tripod and post processing to make a movie from stills.
    • * panorama / photo stitch - easily done on a smartphone, still a major post-processing effort on many DSLRs
    • * filtering / editing - getting more of this on DSLRs, but UI not as good.
    • * connection to Social media - phones have cellular and wi-fi radios built in
  • The smartphone market is consuming the point & shoot customer. The P&S market existed primarily because there were no other options in years prior for casual photography, they simply replicated the same model that existed for film P&S with digital sensors.

    The mirrorless market is consuming large parts of the DSLR market. That's because the dslr market used to be made up of a lot of people who didn't want to carry a DSLR in the first place, but had no other option for interchangable lenses.

    Now t

  • Ergonomics and stability.

    software anti-jitter is great but a stable photography platform is better

  • Whenever any one asked me about cameras, I always thought that whatever you have is best. One of my favorite photogs is Brassai. He ran around Paris, with I think the equivalent of 100 or 200 ISO film, and came out with some of the best b/w pics. I have an old IXUS i picked up on vacation (read: Elph series here in the US) and it's probably technically better than anything Brassai had. But I can't take anything like he took.

  • by tadas ( 34825 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:32PM (#48993553)

    I HATEHATEHATE them. They don't do what I want, impose their own priorities, and make it impossible for me to tell them (quickly, or at all) what *I* want to do. When I hit the shutter button, that's not a suggestion; I want the shutter to trip at that exact moment, not dick around trying to focus on what it thinks I want. I know what I want; I often shoot in "M" mode on DSLRs, and I can judge exposure by the "sunny 16" rule -- if it's sunny, the exposure is f 16 at 1/ISO speed.

    If they had a camera phone which let me set ISO, f stop and shutter speed easily, and allowed for easy manual focus and *instant* shutter release, I might feel differently.

  • by frooddude ( 148993 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:33PM (#48993565)

    Because the photography market is strong as ever from my viewpoint, both for professional photographers that don't feel the need to upgrade kit that's good enough to do what they're doing and the same for hobbyists. It's those pesky home users that just want to feel like they're saving memories by snapping with their cell phones you're not going to entice to buy a separate camera. It's just one more thing left in the closet after you get sick of lugging it around.

    • What is your viewpoint (what type of photography do you do)? My viewpoint is that the photography market is not strong, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics claims an overall loss of 10,000 full-time photographers between 2008 and 2010:

      "As of 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics counted 139,500 workers who claimed photography as their full-time jobs, earning a mean annual wage of $36,330. The 2010 BLS count of photographers was down sharply from that of 152,000 working in 2008."

      source: http://work.chron.com/b [chron.com]

  • Not completely dead, but a brand new set of batteries would last for about 10 pics. Because they used crap components. Granted, these weren't high-end cameras, but when you drop $150 on a camera it's not unreasonable to expect it to work if you take decent care of it. My phone takes decent pictures and, more importantly, still works, so I'm done with buying cameras until I'm ready for an SLR.
  • by kae77 ( 1006997 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @06:45PM (#48993659)

    As a person who just got back from an awesome overseas trip, I took about 1900 photos on my Nikon. I took 200 on my smartphone.

    I'm certainly far more proud of the ones coming from my Nikon, but there is an important catch. I had to wait until I was home to really dive into them and put them on the net.

    For the life of my, I can't understand why Canon, Nikon and others are not fully embracing this connected world. All $500+ cameras should come with Bluetooth/Direct Wifi and GPS built in. All photos should be geotagged, in a timely manner, and be able to be linked through an open API to a smartphone app that transfers the original RAW files into a JPEG and uploaded instantly to social media.

    Smartphones will not be competing with sensor size or quality anytime soon, but they sure make sharing photos a lot easier. That is what people really care about.

    • Disagree. The camera companies should focus on what's important.

      Also every DSLR I've used had optional accessories that you could buy for GPS, WiFi, or even wifi capable SD Cards. They all share a few things in common:

      GPS drains battery. When GPS is not draining battery it is losing sync. I greatly prefer my camera to be able to switch on and take a photo within 1/10th of a second rather than having to wait for GPS. I have a GPS transmitter on my camera at the moment, more than half of my photos end up with

  • The article intermingles two completely different industries, the production of cameras with photography services. ("...the photography industry for 2014....the real story behind the big fall of the camera industry market in 2013...."). That is, camera makers versus photographers.

    There has been a change in the photography industry recently, with new photojournalism graduates unable to earn a living in photography (a NY times profile on this trend was published last year). Established photographers are leaving the field due to loss of revenue. Just sayin', that's the photography industry and this article is about camera manufacturing. Both changes are interesting and significant.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @07:08PM (#48993843) Journal

    I think what's happened is that general consume expectations have changed. Consumers have been trained to want snaps and short videos of what's happening in the moment, and cell phones fill that need admirably. They're not high quality -- the lenses on most phones are atrocious, and it really is not all about the pixel count [1], but it's the camera that you always have on you, and you can share in seconds, so it's no surprise at all that it's filled a need that, really, hardly existed before. I get paid to take pictures with professional gear, yet I still take snaps with my camera phone. I understand that the two platforms fill different needs.

    Is conventional photography dead? Hardly. There are things you can do with more conventional camera/lens/lighting combinations that phones and tablets just can't match. I think what we're seeing is a shift where people previously fumbling with cameras found their needs met with their phone camera, and the pros continue to use pro equipment.

    Of course, pro equipment is changing too. 4/3, video in-camera, (with external modules to capture pcm stereo sound and sync it with the video), VR in-camera (Sony Alpha) or in-lens (Canon and Nikon), and a host of new post-processing capabilities, are changing the face of photography. But there will always be things high end equipment can do that can only be done by high end equipment, and there will always be a market for that somewhere.

    During these shifts, I'd expect perfectly capable products to be left by the wayside. I would expect pocket cameras to have a hard time of it, as there is a lot of overlap with what current cell cameras can do. But wait a few years, and people may realize that shooting with a fixed plastic lens and zooming in software doesn't give good enough results, and midrange dedicated cameras may make a comeback. But they'll probably have some type of sharing built in. (We're already seeing dedicated cameras with wifi dongles, and more lately, wifi built in.)

    [1] Pixel count is the MIPS of this century. Past a certain point, (which in my opinion has already passed in consumer gear) most users will not notice. Just as most generic consumer PCs have more CPU than most consumers need, most modern camera sensors have way more pixels than most consumers will ever notice. Also like MIPS, there isn't a 1:1 correspondence between pixel count and performance. Things like color depth, color pallet, different types of distortion, moire, in-camera post processing, and several other factors have as much or more to do with how well the photo turns out than mere resolution. And the hard fact is, the more pixels you have, the longer it takes to write to storage (other things being equal), the more space it takes up, and the longer it takes to load into and export out of editors. As a pro, I saw a moderate but constantly irritating slowdown in my workflow just going from a 12 Mpixel camera to a 24 Mpixel camera. (Nikon pro bodies.) Every operation that involved reading or writing a file was taking noticeably longer. Bigger isn't necessarily better. There has to be a *reason* to go to higher resolution, else you're probably fooling yourself.

  • by chappel ( 1069900 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @07:33PM (#48994011) Homepage

    Personally I think the next big thing in photography will be digital 4x5 medium-format cameras for the 'serious amateurs'. It's already taking hold with the high-end pros, but current tech for a digital MF system is $50,000+ (Phase One / Mamiya, Hasselblad - especially the 'full' 4x5 sensors) - well beyond what any sane 99%er would pay for a 'hobby'. It looks like some low-end digital backs have already dropped to the $15k range (Pentax, low-end Hasselblad?, older, refurbed Phase One gear) - within a few years (I'm hoping anyway) they'll be into the $6k-$8k range to match higher end current DSLR cameras, but with even better low-light sensitivity, dynamic range and color gamut. Until then it'll take a LOT to get me to spend real money to upgrade my Nikon D800e - I'm just not a good enough photographer to need a better camera (yet).

    Until they figure out how to make the entire screen on an iPhone Plus act as an image sensor I don't see cell phones competing in that market.

  • by Xaedalus ( 1192463 ) <Xaedalys@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday February 05, 2015 @07:57PM (#48994203)
    The DSLR taught me the technical side of photography and how to appreciate it. I'm a fair-to-middling amateur, who bought a Nikon D40 and loved it so much that I taught myself the basics of photography. My D40 allowed me to take some beautifully-staged photos that have won small-time photo contests and generated enough demand that I sold some prints. All the manual controls at my fingertips taught me how to stage a photo. That, IMHO, is the power of DSLRs and why they should never go away. There is a great deal of art and beauty in taking the time and effort to put knowledge of photography into effect to capture the beating of a hummingbird's wings, or the exact refraction of light through the dew on a flower. But the work I love the most are my "catch the moment" photos, where the power and beauty come from all the independent factors like outside lighting, people, animals--all the stuff that cannot be controlled for. My iPhone is more than good enough to catch those moments. I have taken photos with my iPhone that, while technically inferior, manage to catch the moment of light and tone and mood and people that I perceived. It is my generation's polaroid, and I enjoy trying to compensate for the technical inferiority by taking compelling photos. It's fun, I fail A LOT which is to be expected, but my few successes are pretty amazing. The market adjustment isn't a bad thing, it is just once again separating those who value technical prowness in staging a good photo, versus those who just want to take a photo.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @08:38PM (#48994601)

    I have a Canon PowerShot SX130IS 12.1 megapixel mid-range point & shoot camera (well it was mid range when it came out). Its got a bigger sensor, bigger lens and higher optical zoom level (12x) than any smartphone camera I have ever seen, including the one on my Nokia N900.

    For photographing LEGO creations (and getting right in there for close-ups, the macro mode and bigger/better sensor beats any smartphone hands down.

    And for photographing when out and about (e.g. buildings, buses, trains, planes etc) where you want to be able to zoom in on things further away the 12x optical zoom easily beats the 0x optical zoom on all the smartphone cameras.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Thursday February 05, 2015 @11:05PM (#48995427)
    My daughter is presently in India and was in Africa before that. She has been using her iPhone 5s to take pictures and basically it looks like she is just scanning them from NatGeo.(She isn't a natgeo photog) They are completely stunning. She also has a DLSR with her but she hasn't sent any photos because that is a pain. With the iPhone all she has to do is find Wifi and up they go.

    The key test here is that she doesn't have a SIM card in that phone. So she is literally using it primarily for its camera and using it in preference to a hard core DLSR that she is very familiar with.

    So while I am not a fan of stupid features in a camera(I'm looking at you sepia tone) I think that the critical thing that the camera companies need to do is to make sure that they are focusing on a few key features. One is to make it way way easier to get the pictures off the camera. I don't want this to be a dedicated software thing or some kind of crap where they have an online service where they try to have a value add but something where I can walk into a wifi hotspot and start sending them wherever the hell I want.

    The next feature set I want will take advantage of the larger lenses. So night vision from hell. Maybe thermal vision would be cool. Super duper slow mo and I am talking like 200 fps minimum and ideally reaching out to 1000 frames. These are things that a tiny lens camera just can't do.

    The last thing to keep in mind is that the number of professionals using almost any given camera is pretty much zero. So have a pro mode that is off by default. I will never set the ISO, I will never pretty much set anything like that. So keep those features hidden. A great example of this stupid catering to professionals with a camera that isn't professional is a Sony Cybershot that I have. It will record mov(or something common) up to around 720 but at 1080 it goes to some stupid DVD ready format. Who the hell uses DVDs? Basically it just means that to use the HD format I then have to upload the videos and convert the mess to mp4 or something from the last decade. What a pain. I would not have purchased the camera had I known that the 1080 format was stupid. On top of that I need to have a charger to charge the battery. No USB plug. It does have some uber-proprietary Sony plug for something. So basically did the Sony designers even know about the Home PC when they made this camera?

    Here is a winning feature: The real camera's photographs show up on your phone's built in photo album when it is nearby so that you can then do what you want with them. Not just what the MBAs at the camera company will allow you to do. Everyone has a phone that they know how to use well. So take the awesome pictures on the camera and do the rest with the phone. Probably way better than trying to put android on the camera and just making a crappy android interface. I don't need crappy version of instagram on my camera.
  • by BrendaEM ( 871664 ) on Friday February 06, 2015 @04:33AM (#48996289) Homepage

    DSLR manufactures could try manufacturing cameras that weren't defective.
    Leica had problems with IR filtering.
    Canon had problems with light leaks.
    Nikon had problems with grease splatters and flares.
    Pentax had problems with banding.

    BTW, it's time for a common full-frame mount, so lenses could be interchangeable from brand to brand. There is no value added from having custom mounts.

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