It seems that just about every device out there is getting a camera built into it these days. Some of them are run-of-the-mill lenses that won’t capture anything but the most basic of pictures, like the iPhone’s camera has been doing since day one. The problem is that these cameras are slowly improving, and you almost have to wonder if we won’t get to a point where integrated devices end up replacing digital cameras just as those items have done to traditional film cameras.
I can remember purchasing my first digital camera after a development lab in New York City ruined an extremely important role of film I had shot at a press event. It was the early days of the technology, it cost me hundreds of dollars, and it could only store 32 pictures at a time on its internal memory. I loved the idea of not paying for processing, and I also loved how I could review an image on the spot to make sure I had it just the way I wanted. This was a true revolution in photography was my initial reaction.
That was in the mid-1990’s, and here we are in 2010 and I am beginning to wonder if we’re even going to need a stand alone camera any more for snapshots.
Digital cameras have come a long, long way from that first one I bought, and now they are capable of doing some amazing things even in the most basic of models. The addition of cameras into cell phones seemed so insane to me at first, and I couldn’t imagine anyone taking anything more than the most basic drunken party pictures with those for the longest time. But now we have phones like the Nokia N8 that are bumping the camera resolution up, giving you the ability to shoot 720P HD movies and even providing you with an HDMI output so you can play media directly to an HD TV. Why in the world would your average vacationing family even need a separate camera any more?
Consumers are getting to where they expect a camera in every device, just look at the main complaints you hard around the blogosphere the day the iPad was announced. “Where’s the camera?” The iPad will not be the most conducive form factor to shooting pictures when it eventually does get a camera (come on, we all know it will), but yet consumers want it. The iPod Nano got a camera last year, and it’s expected the iPod Touch will get one this year. We are well on the path to having a camera on us at all times without having to do more than carrying one little device.
My assumption is that stand-alone cameras will always have more abilities and flexibility, but will there be enough people looking for those features for camera companies to continue developing such products? Film cameras held on for quite some time because digitals were so expensive, and the image quality wasn’t all that great, but go out and try to find a film camera now that isn’t some high end rig for a professional photographer. The idea that the same thing could happen to the nearly ubiquitous point-and-shoot camera isn’t all that far fetched when you think about it.
What say you? Are ready just to switch to taking pictures with devices that the camera isn’t its sole purpose?