Camera or phone?

April 19, 2011

Since the release of the first camera in the market, people found it necessary to own one in order to capture the special moments in their lives, despite the difficulty of finding a good photo studio to process film and develop photographs.

Naturally, everyone upgraded to digital cameras when they became widely available and affordable. Since then, no major upgrades were added to them other than the ability to shoot high definition videos, and a few others not worthy of mention. I know of only a few people who have changed their digital cameras of late.

Digital still cameras or snap and shoot cameras are different from Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (DSLRs), which are used by professionals and deliver completely stunning results.

But the main reason behind diminishing interest in digital cameras is that people found themselves using their mobile phone cameras more frequently, because their phones are always with them, even when they do not intend to take photographs.

If you have a mobile phone with a more than five megapixel camera, a dedicated photo device will not lure you. Not because it gives good results like the dedicated digital camera, but because taking photos or shooting videos has become just the first step in the whole experience.

The experience nowadays consists of taking photographs, retouching them if necessary, and then sharing them with your family or friends online using social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter.

Sharing photos instantly and online has enhanced the experience even more, as you are giving your friends the opportunity to add their comments and opinions, and even add more information to each photo.

Therefore, I think the digital camera offers an incomplete experience and has no distinct advantage for new users who are completely satisfied with the results of integrated cameras in their mobile phones.

However, I could not believe that at the time of writing this column, the sale of one of the best selling video cameras came to an abrupt end. Flip video was supposed to be the quickest way to shoot a video on the go. Its key USP was the short time needed to take out the camera and record those special moments.

But Cisco, the owner of Flip video, knew that it could not compete with the fact that most decent smart-phones can now record high-definition video.

It is not just about taking photos now, it is all about sharing them. And in order to do that in Flip video, you need to connect your camera to your computer when you are back home, and then upload and share the contents, whereas it is just a couple of clicks (or taps) away in mobile phones. The same scenario prevails when using a digital camera, no matter how good the bundled software is.

Regardless of the availability of the many accessories and tools that allow you to upload photos from your digital camera on the Internet through a local wireless network like the Eye-Fi, which is an SD memory card with Wi-Fi capabilities, it is not as efficient as doing the same with a mobile phone.

A recent report that the popular photo sharing website Flickr’s top camera is the iPhone 4 is just more proof that the popularity of point and shoot cameras hijacked by mobile phones.

Connectivity is such a premium feature in mobile phones that several photo sharing services have built entire social networks based on it, like Instagram, which is available exclusively on the iPhone, and Picplz, available on Android phones as well as the iPhone.