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Mobiles replacing compacts?
  • Today I want to talk about interesting idea that is very popular among some people.
    Thom Hogan ( ), for example, is strong proponent.
    Under first look it seems quite reasonable - you have small compact camera, you also have smartphone with build in camera.
    Why do you need both? And as phones are much more popular, cameras will be improved and integrated into phones with simultaneous compacts market collapse.

    My personal view is - it won't happen.
    We have some problems with physics, as you need very small sensors and small lenses to keep phone form factor.
    Contrary to this - most popular compacts today are ultra zooms. Even cheap cameras moved to 6x-8x zooms.
    Almost all popular compacts now have optical stabilization. I not even started to talk about flash (that also require capacitor of certain size).
    Other important factor - you need some method to keep smartphones prices at least at current level. And improve their sales.
    As looking from USA it seems like smartphones by Apple are real future. Despite that their sales are extremely small in most world regions.
    My understanding is that soon we'll see same turning point that happened with iPods. Third party manufacturers will improve enough that Apple will start to lose their market share in most markets. If profit margins start to fall (Google also realized this problem and hope to hold profits by closing Android) you couldn't integrate good quality camera modules. Just because people generally do not care about camera in their mobile phone, so manufacturer will be cutting it as one of the first targets.
    Internals of phones and cameras are also quite different, both from hardware and software POV. Cameras are built on top of specialized LSI and OSs that are suitable for "turned on-few shorts-turned off". Phones are built on much less specialized cores (but their processors are also become more and more integrated) and they have different OS architecture and power saving approach.
    Of course we'll see monsters integrating cameras and phones into one (we already have such models :-) ).
    Will they be popular? No way.
  • 15 Replies sorted by
  • phones r phones. cameras r cameras. its like having both a quarterback and a receiver. a quarterback can't throw a ball and catch it. literally every photos from my phone are disposable. share w/ friends and forget about it. photos from system cameras are keepers.
  • >literally every photos from my phone are disposable. share w/ friends and forget about it

    But idea that phones will produce pro quality photos in near future is very popular.
  • lol. anybody can call himself a pro for taking his personal photos. my kids think i'm the best photographer in the world.
  • It is also very funny how professional advices costed companies millions and millions.
    Most of them missed ultrazooms (they are noisy, no M mode, etc, etc).
    And still want companies to produce 3x zooms with bright lenses and 2/3" sensors.
    While I like idea, company can not live producing such camera today.
    Instead, camera companies must eliminate their UK and Europe offices and start selling at flat prices (considering tax differencies, of course) directly using special departments in core Japan office with 80% constantly travelling.
  • it won't happen. globalization is falling. back to localization. local tax on everything. soak up the excess monies outta streets by raising taxes.
  • >globalization is falling. back to localization.

    You can't move to localization under current rules. As you'll become uncompetitive.
    Scale is everything (and availability of various parts and facilities).
    Problem also is that US, UK and Europe goverments can't simple raise taxes.
    They really can't do anything rather than buy debt of each other and print money for it :-)
    Inflation will follow. Later their only hope is their colonies and armed forces.
  • Technology is constantly evolving especially if you can make money on it. I think we are at the beginning of our technological development. Shall we see :)
  • Here's my opinion, of course yours could vary.

    I never thought "mobile" would turn into much, but it did. There is a generation coming up that uses their phones in so many more ways than I am ever going to attempt to. This generation is using the photos from these in the same way the generation before used the photos from instamatics. They aren't quality photos, they are memories of a time and of people, that's it.

    That being said, there are lots of people who have no idea what a quality photo is. For them the camera is is giving them as good of quality as anything else they are going to get. So for those people, buying a separate camera is a redundant purchase and redundant accessory to carry around.

    I see the camera market starting at the cheap entry level P&S, going to better P&S, then interchangeable lens cams and continuing up from there. I think the phone is going to really hurt the cheap P&S market, because in many cases, the phone is as good. I also think it will dent the better P&S market, because so many people don't know a good image. Lastly, it's effects on the interchangeable lens cameras I think will be negligible.

    But I do agree with Vitaliy that phones will not progress to the level of better P&S. The reason I don't think so, pricing won't allow it. Tech products have a continual downward pricing pressure on them, in order to get more sold to the masses. I do not doubt that the technology, to get all the improvements into the phone, could be found. I doubt the phone could be priced though at a point to make it still profitable. Remember I said so many people don't know a good photo. Those same people are not going to pay lots of extra money when the only difference is "this phone has a much better camera".

    the other reason I don't think the phone will progress to the level of a better P&S, taking a pic with a phone is really a PITA! Anyone who knows a good image isn't going to fight with a phone to take a picture. Those people will go buy the camera for the quality and use the phone for their "disposables" as Stonebat says.
  • >That being said, there are lots of people who have no idea what a quality photo is.

    I think that most of them have idea that the good quality photo is.
    They are just lazy :-) And I fully agree that number of photos made using mobiles will grow.
    But not because of compacts market shrinking.

    >I think the phone is going to really hurt the cheap P&S market, because in many cases, the phone is as good.

    Only best phones looks comparable to cheapest P&S under very good lightling conditions.
    Even comparing very old and cheap Nikon P&S to latest HTC and iPhones I can see huge difference.
  • This is what I got yesterday. It wasn't dark like this, but this is the best I can do w/ iPhone. Edited from Film Lab iPhone app. Uploaded to my facebook. The entire process took only a few mins. Although I like the silhouette, mobile phone's photo capability is very limited. Let's say the success rate of getting satisfied pictures is much lower than ones from GH2.
    1533 x 2052 - 473K
  • Here's a new product that may be an indication of things to come.
  • Yeah ebay sells like a bunch package.

    Still I'm doubtful. iphone app pictures need post-processing to make it interesting. Today I forgot about memory card. GH2 w/o memory was totally useless. So I had to rely on iphone again.

    This is photoshop bokeh. When it's not super easy, it can't be mainstream.

    720 x 480 - 83K
  • Here's a wild idea. Don't know if we'll ever see this, but who knows...,news-11070.html
  • >Here's a wild idea. Don't know if we'll ever see this, but who knows...

    This looks really fun.
    One good idea in this is that phone can have even 4/3 sensor with 3-4mm to bayonet.
    But lens will have all other space, if necessary.
    I can even thing about 6 lenses inside big flat one covering full sensor :-)
  • Hey, a bit OT but I'd love to be able to view live images from GH2 wirelessly on my iPod - not Hd obviously, but good enough to set lighting or show the actors what the shot looks like, or just move things around to get the shot looking right. I've found that useful in the past with my HD Canon camcorders and a wired monitor. The wireless lens thing reminded me of it a bit. Maybe there's a hidden "enable wifi" switch inside the GH2? You never know!