September 20, 2013
How iPhone 5S Affects The Photography Industry: Exclusive
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Smartphones have not only shaped where and how we get online, but have also turned everyone into a photographer. With a higher-resolution camera coming alongside every smartphone update, one has to ask, "How is this affecting the photography industry?"
While some applaud the new fingerprint technology in Apple's iPhone 5S, still the most commonly used feature of the newly released smartphone will be its camera. This feature has turned every average Joe equipped with Instagram into a Hipster amateur photographer that can slap on a 1977 filter and get 20 "likes." However, while smartphones have made the craft of photography a little more popular, it doesn't mean it can replace professional photographers like Steve Huff.
"FACT: Today the smartphone is the world's most popular camera. They are everywhere you go and almost everyone has one. Every few months it seems that the technology gets better and better. Larger sensors, more megapixels, built in processing and effects. It is like having a camera with built in Photoshop enhancements. Two clicks and you are done and one more click to send to your social media," Huff told redOrbit. "Amazing what can be done today with a smartphone. As for how it has affected me, it has in little subtle ways. I can snap a shot of my son and send it to Facebook instantly for all of my family to see. I can whip out my phone anywhere, anytime and take a photo. It's in my pocket. It's with me at all times. Instant worldwide SHARING is the key word."
Steve isn't just a professional photographer who has had the opportunity to go on tour with Seal to capture moments, he is also a photography enthusiast. He has his own blog devoted to his passion, so when a pro like Huff can get behind a smartphone, then maybe the future of photography isn't as grim as it would seem after glancing through hashtags on Instagram.
"Even though I always have my phone camera I still use my traditional cameras for 95% of my shooting, but that is now, today, 2013. I suspect that within 2-5 years that there will be some incredible technology built into these devices where we may not really need or even want a dedicated camera, but...I am an enthusiast. I love cameras, and I love old classic lenses. I love the tactile feel, the operation, the results and looking through a viewfinder. That is something I do not get with my smartphone. The experience. With that said, I do use my smartphone to take pictures quite often because I do not always have a camera with me, and sometimes those 'picture moments' pop up when you least expect them to. So in a way I guess it has affected me as an enthusiast because even when I do not bring my camera with me, I ALWAYS have my smartphone, so it is there when I need an image."
Cameras like the Fuji x100S are bringing the art back to the camera body for those who want to feel more than the touchscreen of an iPhone 5S. These cameras have become so popular in the photography industry, that finding them is harder to do than finding a champagne-colored iPhone on release day. The art of photography is still very much prevalent in the "immediate gratification" society we live in, but a move back to that vintage look-and-feel doesn't mean photographers don't appreciate how far camera technology has come.
"Back in the 1970's I had to shoot 110 film, wait a week for processing and then look back at 24 pictures that were blurry, overexposed or misframed. Today I can pull out my phone, frame it perfectly in an instant and touch the screen to get my instant image," Huff told redOrbit. "A couple of years back I shot a couple of tours for the musician Seal, and I used my smartphone for a few shots to post to my Facebook and Twitter. Worked out great and believe it or not, some of those shots were really nice. So I have used my phone, to some extent, for my work."
Ken Rockwell, who is known for his very detailed reviews of the latest camera technology, says the shift to digital photography has already affected the industry.
"The digital camera replaces most pro photographers. Like milkmen, TV repairmen, watchmakers and horse-drawn buggy drivers replaced by newer technology, the pro photographers of the past exist mostly in people's memories today," Rockwell told redOrbit.com. "Sure, we still have milkmen and the others (a milk truck comes down my street every week), but we no longer have or need pro photographers like we used to. The few at the top will still be needed, but the guy you hired to take wedding or baby portraits or real estate listing photos is long gone because people can do it themselves easier."
Ken pointed out that the shift from point-and-shoot cameras to iPhones and Androids is nothing new.
"The iPhone replaced the point and shoot camera for people's snapshots (popular 1980s-2005), which replaced the Instamatic of the 1960s-1970s, which replaced the Brownie of the 1st half of the 20th century which replaced the original Kodak of the late 1800s."
The iPhone 5S is just an 8-megapixel camera, but its low-light image quality rivals some lower- to medium-priced point-and-shoots. Burberry even used the smartphone to record their runway show at the London Fashion Week. Nokia has taken things a step further by announcing a 41-megapixel smartphone, which features more pixels than any professional Canon or Nikon DSLR camera. So how do camera companies keep their foothold in a world where Apple and Nokia continue to make themselves known?
"I think that the camera companies are going to have to respond or face problems down the road. The masses will photograph with a phone, and the enthusiasts and Pros will still use dedicated cameras. The big market is always going to be with the average consumer, who will have and use a smartphone," Huff told redOrbit. "Sony has already started taking steps to the future by releasing a "camera" shaped like a lens (QX10 and QX100) that can slide over your smartphone and give you much higher quality images than what comes from your phone directly. The cool thing about it is that the camera/lens combo works directly with your smartphone so when you snap the image, it will pop up on your phone in gorgeous quality that you cannot get today with just a phone photo sensor. This is for those who use a phone for their photography yet they want something better without having to lug a huge camera around. Pretty cool. But soon, these phones will have camera level quality built in. SO then what? Where does it end, what is the goal?"
Steve predicts that the future will consist of less and less dedicated large cameras being released as the smartphone takes over everyday photography.
"A few years ago you could go to Disneyland and see hundreds of visitors with DSLR's snapping away happily. These days the majority use their smartphones and the world has gone snap happy in the process. Eventually these smartphones will get so good at taking photos that many will find it hard to go out and spend $600+ on a large camera setup. Cameras will end up being sold to Professionals who need what a dedicated camera gives them, or an enthusiast like me who still enjoys the experience of shooting with a real camera. There will always be those who prefer superior quality, choice of lenses, looking through a viewfinder and enjoying the camera experience. The enthusiast market is VERY large, but large enough to keep camera companies afloat for the next 10-15 years? That is the question, and no one knows the answer just yet. All I know is that I am excited to see where all of this goes. I love technology," Huff told redOrbit.
As uncertain as the future is, a shift in the world of photography has emerged, like-it-or-not. While everyone these days thinks of themselves as an amateur photographer thanks to filters provided by Instagram, it takes more than a camera to make it art.
"A photographer went to a socialite party in New York. As he entered the front door the host said ‘I love your pictures – they’re wonderful; you must have a fantastic camera.’ He said nothing until dinner was finished, then: ‘That was a wonderful dinner; you must have a terrific stove.” - Sam Haskins