Friday 22 November 2013

Phone Cameras For the Win!

When the first phone camera was sold in the year 2000, few could have predicted the widespread impact of such an invention. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, traditional camera sales throughout the world fell 29% January through May of 2013. This same year Flickr reported the top three highest percentages of images posted were produced by various iPhone models.
Though lenses can't be changed out to cover as broad an array of situations as SLRs, there are a number of reasons camera phones have surpassed digital SLR rigs in terms of sales.
Small and Powerful
The most inexpensive phones normally come equipped with cameras featuring 5 megapixels or higher. Now 8, 13, and on up to 42 megapixels can be found on the market. Many include first-rate editing programmes and offer the ability to share images with most social networking sites immediately. Compare the bulk and weight of an old Nikon (5-6 megapixels) to a sleek 13MP mobile carried in one's pocket and it's easy to see why the big camera manufacturers are hurting.
Always on Hand
When attending an event, photo hobbyists must make the decision whether they'll be working or playing. Many love nothing more than to be on hand to capture the moment, but in the past that meant schlepping gear and worrying about equipment getting damaged or stolen. Now with the ability to get images worthy of print from a small phone? Everyone's a photographer. Plus if trying to be more discreet during special occasions a mobile's the way to go.
Easy Sharing
Consider first the film age, which involved sending images off to be processed or developed yourself if you had the proper darkroom setup. Then one hour processing became the rage. Digital cameras came along and blew everyone's minds with the new-found ability to shoot as much as one wanted and then simply transfer to a computer. But still, that required connecting the camera to a computer or reading the memory card. Still an amazing breakthrough but now mobile sharing on smartphones is as easy as the click of a few buttons.
Changing Society
Such ease of use and the rise in popularity of social media platforms may be a chicken or the egg scenario but the very multifunctionality of a phone camera makes it quite obvious why traditional camera sales are suffering. Not only has the professional camera industry been greatly affected, but the ways in which societies act and interact have been greatly impacted as well.
Concerts reveal a sea of lighted phones held high, weddings are documented and posted long before the bride and groom go on honeymoon, and with programmes like Instagram everyone's an artist. Every day little things now seem worthy of documenting and sharing. Plus go to any event of note and see how most people will spend loads of money to physically attend but then watch the entire proceedings on the screen of their phones.
The Cons
The less-than-savory societal changes of being in attendance yet experiencing through a camera lens has also caused changes in the way people do business. Originally, cinemas only asked that phones be silenced, whereas now the glow of the screen times however many people is also cause for complaint. Too, when mobile photographers get really engrossed in grabbing the perfect image it's not uncommon to see them losing sight of personal boundaries and common courtesy. The bloke behind you didn't shell out £100 to watch a concert through your camera. And it's become such a rampant problem that some promoters and artists are starting to ban camera phones altogether.
Add in the constant barrage of images posted publicly (with or without one's consent) and it seems it's been forgotten that with the privilege of such brilliant technology comes responsibility. Phone cameras are wonderfully convenient things. However no 'gadget' should cause a rift between friends. Though camera phones are used the world over, when in doubt—ask.
Ask if it's alright to take photos and ask if you're allowed to post them. It also wouldn't hurt to occasionally put the phone down and just be in the moment. It's your life, not television so share it and enjoy it.

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