The Street Predicts The Demise Of Digital Cameras

The Street, more known for its financial advice than photography know-how, has predicted that with the continued magapixel race in mobile phone cameras that digital cameras as we know it are on the tech endangered list.

It sees the stats that point-and-shoot growth is only about 2.5% and jumps to the conclusion that it’s on the way out — to be replaced by mobile phones.

Well, it may be partly right. Many casual shooters may well ditch a point-and-shoot (P&S) digital camera for one of the better mobile phone camera, such as the one on the iPhone 4. But, as mobile phone camera moves into P&S territory, the P&S is moving onto higher grounds with features that do not exist on a mobile phone camera, yet. Also, many P&S shooters are upgrading to a DSLR or a DIL (Digital Interchangeable Lens), the “mirrorless DSLR” equivalent.

Here are my “predictions” (I’ll leave financial matters to The Street) — or what I wish would happen [what? they’re not the same thing?]:

I see the “TOUGH” category gaining ground: there is something to be said about having an ultra compact camera in your pocket that you can take anywhere without having to worry about damaging it, getting it wet, dropping it, freezing it, dunking it, sitting on it, swimming with it, getting salt water all over it — a “peace of mind” camera for any season, anytime, anywhere.

The next category that I see gaining ground at the expense of P&S digicams is the compact DIL: this is the one you reach for to take to the wedding, the special occasion, when you want to record something important and need to know that your camera will be up to the task. You can leave it on AUTO or take full control.

The DSLR will be with us for a long time to come: at least for a dozen more years until the stats tell the manufacturers consumers want DILs. That a slapping mirror does not a camera make. That, at last, the terms “digital” and “electronic” are starting to live up to their full potential and mean “better than optical.” I don’t see the DSLR edging toward the endangered species status, like film did [though there are still aficionados shouting it ain’t dead yet], but it will be transformed, made better, faster, quieter, lighter, easier to use. It just won’t have (or need to have) a slapping mirror (though it may well retain a small fixed partly silvered mirror maybe at the center to reflect light onto a Phase-detect focus sensor), optical viewfinder and lots of optical corrections will be done by software either in-camera or in post-processing.

My crystal ball is murky, so take it all with a grain of salt. Oh, it also says to go buy some shares of Apple.