Will the iPhone kill the point-and-shoot camera?


At least one source is claiming that the iPhone 4 is poised to become the most popular camera on the photo site Flickr.  Think about it.  We bring our mobile phones everywhere, and these days they virtually all have a camera.  And these cameras are capable of producing photos that range from decent to excellent quality.  The adage, “The best camera is the one you have with you” seems to ring true here.  While the “point-and-shoot” camera certainly isn’t dead by any means, this trend may mean its days are numbered.  And with Apple having recently unveiled new camera features in its upcoming iOS 5, this trend is likely to continue.  For me, I know that I shoot a lot more quick photos with my iPhone 3GS, mostly because I always have it with me.  What say ye, fellow Gadgeteers?  Do you find yourself using your iPhone (or other phone) more often than your point-and-shoot camera?

Posted in: iOS, News
{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Madison McPheeters June 17, 2011, 11:05 am

    I always use my Kodak camera instead of a cell phone camera. I’ve used the cell phone camera some, but the poor quality drives me nuts.

  • Smythe Richbourg June 17, 2011, 11:39 am

    I found myself using my iPhone 3G camera a lot more than any of my point-and-shoots, just because, as Chase Jarvis says, “The best camera is the one that’s with you.” When the iPhone 4 came along, I immediately sold my P&S units, because the iPhone camera is as good or better in most situations. With the advent of the three folders of camera apps I now have on my iPhone 4, the camera is even better (more versatile) than any P&S I’ve ever owned. I still have my trusty Nikon d90, but, except for product shots or vacations, it pretty much stays in the bag and the bag stays home.

  • RainyDayInterns June 17, 2011, 11:42 am

    We gave some thoughts on the topic when we wrote about the demise of the Flip video camcorder:

    Clayton Christensen (“Innovator’s Dilemma”) also has a lot of interesting insights on the trajectory of things like this. Those interested should definitely check out his book.

    However, we are with Madison in that there are situations where special purpose devices are more suitable. Basically, the may be times when you may not be willing to hand over any of your multi-use devices to a six-year old and let him/her run around shooting videos of the dog/cat…

  • Julie June 17, 2011, 11:44 am

    The iPhone camera is one of the main reasons for my choice to go back to it from the Droid X. It takes really good pix. Yes, I know they aren’t ever going to be as good as a dedicated digital camera, but they sure are close. I love that you can focus in on any point of the subject by tapping on it. It does a terrific job at macro shots too.

  • Jeff Hollaway June 17, 2011, 11:45 am

    Not everyone has a iPhone but, the cameras on theses phones these days are getting better and better.

  • Ken Esq June 17, 2011, 11:58 am

    The camera on phones in general will kill the point and shoot.

  • JT June 17, 2011, 12:22 pm

    Photographer Thom Hogan has complained about the lack of connectivity in cameras for a while now. His 2 posts about the recent Apple announcements are interesting (search for “June 6” to find them):


    Personally, I use my iPhone’s camera if I want to send someone an image or capture something and quality isn’t an issue. I’ve gotten so used to the quality of the images and the control I have over the settings that I put up with the inconvenience of carrying my DSLR a lot. I don’t think phones or point & shoots will ever get good enough for me to switch.

  • DStaal June 17, 2011, 12:58 pm

    I have a bit of an odd case: I don’t take many pictures, but when I do, I usually take one with _both_ my camera and my phone. Because my camera doesn’t record GPS, and I want the GPS tracking. I can copy the location tags over once I get the picture back to the computer.

    I think camera companies really need to start looking at what other features people are using on their phones in conjunction with taking pictures. My Palm Pre doesn’t have that good a camera, but it can do GPS, OCR, uploading, or basically anything else someone can write a program for. I don’t know any point-and-shoot, or DSLR for that matter, that has any of that feature set.

  • GODMODE June 17, 2011, 2:16 pm

    The iPhone, nor no other cell phone will KILL a point and shoot. What WILL kill are the apps those phones have. Effects, sharing, wireless availability – if point and shoots had those things, it could stand a chance.

  • technojeff June 17, 2011, 3:05 pm

    Until the cameras in phones have an actual optical zoom of 3X or more they can never take the place of a P&S camera. I recently purchased the Sony TX10 and its so small I can take it everywhere and not be bothered by the weight. The fact thats is water/drop/dust/drop proof is all the better. Great night pictures with no flash and its really fast. Between that and the camera in my Samsung Charge which takes decent pics but can never do the above i’m ready for the next Pulitzer prize shot whenever it happens 🙂

  • RainyDayInterns June 17, 2011, 4:00 pm

    To Julie’s point about iPhone and macro shots….add a $20 (only $5 if you want hack your own cover) lens and get amazing macro shots:

    We are doing a few other projects with it and are just stunned how much further we can push the camera.

    • Julie June 17, 2011, 4:21 pm

      @RainDayInterns I love those pix in your article!

  • Uli June 17, 2011, 4:02 pm

    The iPhone4 camera gives amazing results. I hadn’t realized this unless I saw some pix I took actually in print in a trade journal (had to take some for an article and forgot to take my regular camera) – absolutely sufficient.
    For holidays etc I trust my Nikon P100 – no iPhone will ever beat a 26x optical zoom.

  • RainyDayInterns June 17, 2011, 6:23 pm

    @Julie…crazy, isn’t it? We mount the iPhone4 on a PED-3 stand and it worked even better. The next step is to try to activate the camera via voice command to remove the last bit of “shake.”

    We were at the NEAF (astronomy geeks) conference in April and some guy was selling a mount to attach the iPhone to a telescope for astro pics. Should have seen the shots he got using it!

  • nicky June 18, 2011, 9:05 am

    i’m currently using a canon powershot SX200IS, wich is no less than two years old,
    it has a wide angle objective, 12x zoom, a stabilizer, and with a custom firmware it can take RAW images and multi-exposure bracketting …

    phone makers have a long way to go before replacing those compact cameras 😀

  • Bgood June 18, 2011, 1:29 pm

    I use my iPhone 4 camera a lot but mostly for photographing receipts, posters of event times, key information in magazines, menus, and hand written notes – all of which I post to Evernote and/or email to friends. Camera+ works well for taking the pictures and quick editing for these tasks.
    For real pictures, the least capable camera I’m happy with is my Canon S90 which is usually in my jacket pocket.

  • alan June 18, 2011, 4:36 pm

    The way I see it, phones will take the place of casual use P&S, but for vacations or anything where you can anticipate wanting high quality or real low light, there is just no replacement for larger sensors, bigger lenses, etc. You can’t change the laws of physics….

  • ruben June 20, 2011, 3:45 am

    Went to my daughter’s performance last week, and i noticed some parents holding weird (by weird I ment unusual) gadget over their head. It turn out to be Ipad (most) and Galaxytab.
    Point taken, direct connectivity become necessity such that size does not matter.

  • technojeff June 20, 2011, 10:44 am

    Ruben-if they were holding tablets above their heads it sounds like they were recording video and not taking pictures and I doubt they were doing a live stream to somewhere else. So I don’t think connectivity was a need here.
    Even though the the ipad does HD video its very mediocre and its a shame they don’t realize this. In 5 or 6 years we will all have 60-100″ TVs and that video that they took is going to look like some VHS home movie on it and they will regret not having a good camera with higher-end video capabilities.

  • yartal June 21, 2011, 3:19 pm

    I believe they should make cameras that have a phone feature (and other features as well perhaps) then the other way around. I would much prefer carrying a camera instead of a phone, but a camera with a phone – now that’s cool.

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