Is the Digital Camera Officially Dead?

It's been said for a very long time that the digital camera as a standalone gadget is a dying business. Smartphones are getting better as cameras, and as apps improve shooting and sharing photos, it has become less and less important to have a standalone camera. This past week I had two experiences that really sealed that message for me.


One, we were on vacation as a family for the first time since our son was born. Sarah has a very nice Nikon DSLR, and I have at least two high end point and shoot cameras at home. We not only didn't pack any of them, we didn't miss them one bit. We took tons of photos with Sarah's iPhone 5C and my HTC One M8, and even from the top of a mountain looking at breathtaking views we didn't miss having a dedicated camera. It just would have been one more item to juggle, and it was nice to be able to upload and share photos without bringing a computer along on our trip.

Then, this past weekend I ran a relay race called River to Sea. My team of 7 runners ran 92 miles from the Delaware River to the beach in Manasquan, NJ, and, again, none of us brought dedicated cameras. In fact, aside from race photographers, I didn't see a single team using dedicated cameras to take pictures of their teammates throughout the race. I saw a ton of iPhones and Android phones (mostly Samsungs, but I did spot another HTC One M8!), but no one was out there with even a point and shoot. It was all smartphones all the time.

I really found the relay experience to be more interesting, as it gave me a chance to see how everyone, not just people like me who are immersed in tech geekery, are treating photography. No one on my relay team would have even considered grabbing a “real” camera for the race, but we all took plenty of photos that day. It makes me wonder about the future of even higher end cameras; as smartphone apps get better and better, will there be much demand for the average person to even buy a DSLR, or will they become purely the domain of professionals and deeply enthusiastic hobbyists?

Have you used or even just charged a digital camera recently? Let us know in the comments!


Categories: Editorials, News


3 replies

  1. As I pointed out in the opening line of my Incipio review it seems to be more about shoot, edit and share these days than shoot, download, save, store and then edit and share (and in the old days it was load camera, shoot, unload camera, process, etc.). But if a Bald Eagle were to soar overhead it would be nothing more than a speck of dust on your mobile device’s captured image. More than 75% of today’s images can be captured with a mobile device, perhaps even more than that. For those other 25% of the remaining images yet to be captured I will not give up my traditional cameras just yet…and I always keep a battery in the charger.

    • But how many average photographers will capture that eagle photo well even with a better camera? If you’re a high end enthusiast you have a lot more knowledge to draw from, but the typical point and shoot photographer isn’t getting that specialized shot no matter what.

  2. As a parent, a lot changed when my son started to do band concerts and other events. What you will find out quickly is that the smartphone works fine when you are out and about with family but the moment you want to capture your kid playing in the band you will see that the smartphone fails. You can’t see your kid even if you DO use the digitally enhanced zoom. I JUST bought my first DSLR and I am also taking it with me on a business trip to PA. Why? Because that’s the only way I will get good with that equipment AND it’s also to an area I used to live in and don’t know when I am coming back. So I want to capture pictures of place I’ve been in a high resolution as I never know when I will be back.

    Now one feature that came with the kit I thought was stupid initially that I will INSIST on having is Wifi. That little adapter is WONDERFUL. Not only can I trip the shutter with my phone but I can take that picture and offload it to my phone, edit it and then submit it to Facebook, Flickr or Instagram right then and there. That gets the best of both worlds. It let’s me use my phone for what it’s good for (quick edits and processing and sharing) and my camera for what it’s good for (capturing wonderful images).

    I am, of course, an outlier though. I LOVE taking pictures and love taking pictures capturing moments that just aren’t possible with a smart phone. My DSLR can capture pics without flash in many instances where my smartphone pics will be too dark. I can control almost every aspect of the picture with my DSLR. I am NOT a auto mode shooter on my DSLR. So I WILL always have one of these or a Micro 4/3rds as a second camera as I can do amazing things with it.

    I will say…I will never buy a point and shoot again though mostly because my phone camera IS that good. When I go out for an evening…I enjoy using my smart phone for pics. When I have both with me I use both.