I went on a short business trip to San Francisco last week and decided to leave my little Canon PowerShot Elph camera at home. I figured the few shots I might take could be handled by the tiny camera baked into my new iPhone 6 Plus.
After years of my total support for using ‘real’ cameras instead of phones to handle point and shoot needs… now, you might ask why I’m favoring a more limited smartphone camera over your typical PowerShot, which boasts a more powerful lens and sensor.
You could be muttering “sacrilege!” under your breath.
Or perhaps you’re saying, “It’s about time he figured this out.”
Either way, I was finally facing the same decision tree that millions have been considering since smartphones started sporting cameras.
Time to Break Up with My Canon Elph?
Up until now, I’ve remained completely loyal to the fact that better cameras take better pictures. And as it’s often hard enough to take a decent photo with the best of gear, why stack the odds against you with a more limited camera system.
You’ve got to admit, smartphone photography can’t possibly be as good as the real deal.
But it’s been getting better…
And remember, I held onto my iPhone 4S throughout the 5 and 5S years. So I didn’t experience the photo shooting improvements in those iPhones.
Fast forward to today…
This Smartphone’s Camera is Good Enough…
The photos I shot in California with my iPhone 6 Plus looked pretty darn good.
Sure, its camera isn’t perfect…
- No, the iPhone’s LED flash isn’t that powerful to give you enough fill to combat strong back light.
- No, you still can’t zoom in without cropping out pixels.
- No, you can’t easily play with depth of field. (not that I’ve figured out yet)
- No, it’s not as sharp in low-light situations.
But under relatively non-challenging, photo-taking conditions… it does the job just fine!
Lots of Baked-In Tricks
- It can shoot time-lapse movies.
- It records movies in slow motion at 240 frames per second.
(None of my Canon cameras can do that!)
- And I’ve really started to enjoy taking panorama photos.
(which I know has been available for a while via iOS upgrades)
- It has optical image stabilization.
And I can do basic photo editing/cropping right in the iPhone and then email or text the photo out. Again, this is not a new functionality… but it’s more useful now, because the photos are starting from a better place… I don’t have to do as much voodoo in Aperture to get these pictures ready for prime time.
You’ve Always Got a Camera in Your Pocket
Still better in so many ways, compact point and shoot cameras are downright boring by comparison.
No… I’m not throwing away my Canon collection anytime soon, but it seems clear to me that the more advanced camera on my iPhone 6 Plus can easily serve as a back up camera when I find myself unexpectedly needing one.
And to be honest, it can really start to take on some of my official photo taking needs when I’m just going for a few casual shots.
Time to Write the Obit?
Does my revelation (however late in the game) confirm a problem for Canon or Nikon… and other camera makers in the compact point and shoot market?
(DSLRs are still clearly superior.)
As it turns out, it does.
Last year, there was a 45% drop in compact camera shipments.
Whoah!! That suggests a huge problem.
Will compact digital cameras go the way of the deceased Flip camcorder and follow the trend of ‘good enough’ beats the need to carry around a second device?
How many of you have already abandoned your old digital cameras in favor of the space-saving, one-device solution for your pocket?
Evolve or Else!
It’s a grim picture for point and shoot cameras and for the few who still want to use them. But look on the bright side…
Now, you can refocus your available dollars on purchasing that more expensive DSLR or lens you’ve been coveting…