Rise of the Smartphones



Just a month ago I wrote a post about how Canon Inc. was starting to feel the heat from smartphones in the digital photography market. And if you weren’t yet convinced that smartphones are taking over digital photography market right now, then the book #Sandy will convince you.

I received an email from Moses earlier today on my smartphone while I was sitting on the crapper, with a link to an article mentioning this book and this is what he had to say:

Another one of his projects, #Sandy, featured pictures taken by him and a number of other photographers of the devastation caused by hurricane Sandy in October 2012. All pictures were taken and processed on their iPhones. The pictures in the book are absolutely amazing. During his presentation, Wyatt mentioned that the people from the LA Times actually emailed him to confirm that the pictures were really taken on an iPhone apparently because they found it hard to believe. He also said that there are a few photojournalists that he knows who are primarily covering their stories using their phones right now. Since recently camera manufacturers like Nikon and Canon are facing heavy competition from smartphones as this story on the Wall Street Journal confirms, and apparently it’s not just the normal consumers that prefer to take pictures with their smartphones instead of a compact camera or DSLR, but now also professional photographers.

Of course this book by Wyatt Gallery is not the first featuring iPhone pictures. Chase Jarvis was one of the first to publish such a book back in 2009.

The Best Camera

The Best Camera

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis (right) - Seperated at birth?

Bradley Cooper and Chase Jarvis (right) – Seperated at birth?

If you don’t know who Chase Jarvis is, he’s the guy playing Bradley Cooper in the Wedding Crashers and the Hangover movies. Chase apparently was ahead of his time with his book and saw the smartphone revolution coming way in advance.

And then there’s the WSJ article. Man, it’s fucking awesome. Just check this out:

Declining sales of high-end cameras and lenses are raising an alarming question for companies like  Canon Inc.  and  Nikon Corp. Could the proliferation of camera-enabled, app-heavy smartphones be crushing not only the simple point-and-shoot, but premium models as well?

This year, shipments of what’s called “interchangeable-lens cameras”—high-end models that let users swap out different lenses—are diving suddenly after years of robust growth. Most of those are digital single-lens reflex, or DSLR, cameras—the bulky models used by professional photographers and enthusiasts.

But the example of Lie Fhung suggests consumer tastes could be changing too. The Hong Kong-based artist and graphic designer says she now rarely uses the Canon DSLR camera that she bought five years ago. Instead, Ms. Fhung, 44, takes most of her photos with her iPhone, and satisfies her urge to manipulate the images with a bevy of photo-editing apps.

When the editing process is complete, she posts her snapshots straight from her phone to photo-sharing app Instagram, where she has nearly 1,600 followers. Ms. Fhung says she has no plans to replace her aging Canon.

See that? That’s precisely what I said in a previous post. People aren’t going to be choosing to shoot with bulky DSLRs and not even compact cameras, when their smartphones are perfectly capable of shooting good pictures. But there’s more:

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Camera makers have argued that although smartphones and mobile devices have decimated sales of cheap, compact cameras, premium products shouldn’t be affected, since they offer a level of control and picture quality that a smartphone’s tiny lens and sensor can’t replicate.

“Taking photos with smartphones and editing them with apps is like cooking with cheap ingredients and a lot of artificial flavoring,” says Canon spokesman Takafumi Hongo. “Using interchangeable cameras is like slow food cooked with natural, genuine ingredients.”

I beg to differ. The picture quality on DSLRs and compact cameras is becoming crappier all the time thanks to the continued increases of megapixels. Unless these stupid dumb fucks start to get a clue and focus on image quality instead of megapixels, there will be increasingly less difference in image quality between smartphones and bigger cameras. I mean, just look at the 70D. At higher ISO values you would swear that the pictures it takes were taken by a smartphone as it looks grainy and digital and awful as fuck.

Even lens maker Tamron has acknowledged a potential problem, although it doesn’t blame that for the recent decline in sales. “Smartphones pose a threat not just to compact cameras but entry-level DSLRs as well,” general manager Tsugio Tsuchiya said in a phone interview.

Even professional DSLRs are going to start feeling the heat soon. Like Moses mentioned above, professionals are starting to use smartphones to do some of their work as the image quality gets better. And then there’s this stupid dumb fuck from Nikon:

“We are seeing tough figures at the moment, but I don’t think this will last forever,” said Nikon Chief Financial Officer  Junichi Itoh, at an earnings news conference on Thursday. “There still is potential demand, and I think China is the key.”

These morons are going to have to wake up pretty soon to face the hard facts of the reality we’re heading into right now. Especially in light of their recent fuckups with the D600 sensor oil spots issue. I still can’t believe Nikon was able to fucking get away with largely ignoring that problem instead of fixing it and owning up to their fuckups, and just releasing a new D610 model a year later where the problem had been fixed, leaving all D600 owners on their own. It’s incredible how complacent and passive consumers are today. And hardly any professional photographers have mentioned and questioned this unethical move by Nikon. Honest to God, sometimes I think you ignorant sheeple deserve to get what’s coming to you.

But now is really not to the time to be fucking up with the prosumer and professional products. And Canon Inc. had better start paying some serious attention to what’s going on. A seriously high priority should be placed on producing imaging sensors that produce exceptional image quality. Forget about the megapixels; focus on better pixels, like Fujifilm plans on doing. Like Moses wrote in his 5D Mark III review:

  • Please keep the sensor resolution on the 35mm sensor in the 21-24MP range. We don’t need more resolution!! It’s great where it’s at now. For people who want more resolution, consider introducing a medium format system. Or alternatively, introduce a new camera line, say a 4D, with more megapixels and more noise and slower framerate for the amateurs (as Ken Rockwell calls them) who go crazy about megapixels. But for us professionals, keep the 5D at 22MP.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us better usable dynamic range on the sensor. Sony can do it as demonstrated on the D800, so Canon should be able to do it. Get rid of the pattern and banding noise issues when pushing the exposure of an image in post.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us even lower noise and even higher usable ISO values. Make ISO 1600 the new ISO 100.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us even faster framerate. At least 8fps or higher.
  • Instead of more megapixels, give us better image quality. I love the lens aberration correction features for example. Give us more of that. Use more DIGIC power to improve the image quality. Give us better pixels, not more!!!
  • Better metering system. Perhaps we can get the 1DX metering system in the 5D Mark IV. Also, spot metering linked to the selected autofocus point.
  • I like the new HDR features and extra exposure bracketing options. One thing that is missing is focus bracketing. Add this feature on the next 5D. Give us an option to specify how many images and how far to shift focus for each bracketed shot. And then, similar to the HDR feature, let the camera combine them into a single shot with combined dept of field, which is going to be a great feature for macro shooting. Let it be possible to shoot all focus bracketed shots in a single quick burst.
  • Give us an articulating LCD screen. This is essential for video shooting, but also for stills to be able to get the more difficult angles.
  • Better autofocus system with more cross-type points, spread out more to the edges (rule of thirds), and more sensitive. Autofocus needs to be extremely fast and especially accurate.
  • It’s time for an electronic viewfinder with all the benefits that come with that, including real-time exposure simulation (what you see is what you get). While this isn’t very essential for the next 5D, the one after that should have one. And it should be high resolution and look almost like the optical viewfinder.
  • Flash sync speed of 1/500s. Why is the 5D Mark III stuck at 1/200s???
  • Much sharper HD video and 1080p at 120fps.
  • Get rid of the jello effect in video mode.
  • Faster contrast detect autofocus in live view shooting, and faster, smoother and automatic autofocus during movie recording.
  • Quality control needs to improve much more. I bought two 5D Mark III cameras. One of them was perfect, while the other one came with a dirty sensor (dust spots visible at f/16) and two small black spots inside the viewfinder (fortunately at the edges). This is unacceptable for a brand new camera. It’s not the first time this is happening to me. Years ago a brand new 40D I bought came with a large particle on the sensor visible at f/11. Fortunately I was able to clean the sensor myself in all cases, although it took a while and at least 5 swabs to get the 5D Mark III sensor spotless because of the tiny particles that kept moving around instead of attaching to the swabs. A quick Google search reveals that these kinds of quality control problems are still occuring too often. Please improve.

Personally, I’d keep the resolution on full frame 35mm sensors at 16MP like on the 1DX, and then focus on seriously improved dynamic range, low noise and great color reproduction even at the highest ISO values. And then add to this on sensor phase detection AF covering the entire frame, with the sensitivity to accurately autofocus on the dark side of the moon in nanoseconds.

This is also the time when Canon Inc. needs to seriously stop crippling features on their cameras to force consumers to buy the higher end models. THEY ARE JUST NOT GOING TO FUCKING DO IT ANYMORE. Either you go all out and give them innovative and high end features even on the lower models, or you risk losing them to the smartphones. I mean, really, why the fuck didn’t the 5D Mark III have built-in GPS and Wifi? WHY THE FUCK NOT?? Oh, so you could sell the overpriced GP-E2 and WIFI Battery grip and financially milk out people even more???? THIS SHIT IS NOT GOING TO FLY ANYMORE. You have been warned. There’s no excuse not to include these features in ALL upcoming camera models. FUCKING BUILT-IN!!!!!1

The time has come to stop dicking around and show us what you’ve got, Canon Inc. And start fucking shipping the 14-24mm f/2.8 L we’re waiting on for so long now. The 16-35mm is fucking soft and outdated as fuck.

Alright that’s it, I’m gonna try to enjoy the rest of my weekend now.

13 thoughts on “Rise of the Smartphones

  1. In a nutshell, smartphone cameras won’t be able to perform as good as DSLRs as long as they won’t improve technologies in the mirrorless segment, but this technology might get improved sooner than expected:
    – Canon filed an AF system patent for mirrorless cameras last year (http://www.canonwatch.com/canon-patent-to-improve-hybrid-auto-focus-speed/)
    – Olympus as of november 2013 has been able to put an IS inside their mirrorless camera: it means now the mirrorless camera can autofocus faster with macrophotographic details as good as an inch distance on an electronic zoom (http://petapixel.com/2013/10/30/olympus-stylus-1-premium-compact-style-mirrorless-camera/). Once that is done, this technology will be on smartphones in a heartbeat.
    – Please, given the price of microprocessors (digic+5) it is time to see more than 1 chip on all the cameras and this will improve the autofocus technology on mirrorless cameras
    – Improve the sensors please
    – Anyone has seen the new Digic+6 pro from Canon?
    – at some point in time, mirrorless will replace DSLRs and smartphones will become a standard of the camera market, but it’s going to take a couple of decades.

    I also think that electronic zoom will become the future in 20 years from now and will replace traditional optics.
    I also think that Canon should have included IS on their camera body 10 years ago, instead of selling us lenses with IS, but they did not care, they wanted to make more money.

    I just published a post in french earlier on this subject on how to improve the mirrorless technology:


    • Smart phones are the standard right now man. It’s not gonna take decades. It’s happening now. I agree on the microprocessors, no reason not to include more of them to make everything faster. Other than wanting to keep costs low to make absurd amounts of profits. Mediocrity and “good enough” isn’t going to cut it anymore. Smart phones come with gps and wifi and many other features built in. Any camera manufacturer that takes themselves serious will not release a camera (compact, or pro) without those features built-in.

  2. It is not just the smartphone that is eating into dslr sales, it is the economy. Folks would rather eat, house themselves and send their kids to college rather than shooting better pictures.

  3. Add to your list consistent on-camera flash exposures, especially in TTL mode. Few camera users like having to shoot 10 frames just to make sure they get one good one.

  4. The question is why didn’t Nikon build in GPS and wifi (like on toy cameras) into their D800? So they can milk the consumer cow for several hundred bucks for their shitty high margin accessory add-ons? Your an insider Chuck, spill the beans to us roundeyes.

  5. “Give us an articulating LCD screen. This is essential for video shooting, but also for stills to be able to get the more difficult angles.”


    “It’s time for an electronic viewfinder with all the benefits that come with that, including real-time exposure simulation (what you see is what you get). While this isn’t very essential for the next 5D, the one after that should have one. And it should be high resolution and look almost like the optical viewfinder.”

    Fuckouttahere on both counts. I use an X100s & while that viewfinder works in a pinch, I’m not trying to increase eyestrain on a 12 hour commercial shoot. You know, the shit that people shooting 5d3s use them for when their med format cameras can’t shoot fast enough. So if you want eyestrain go over to sony and leave the pentaprism alone, fuckface. WYSIWYG?!?! Motherfucker i knew what i was going to get before i set up a god damn light. Learn to shoot you broke bitch.

    Want a flip out screen? Buy an Ac7 from small HD and shut your stupid fucking amateur ass mouth. That shit sits on your rails and doesn’t end up leaving with the camera when you eventually sell… You know, useful, professional level shit. Canon already makes the camera you’re mewling for… The 60D.

    Now if i could send jpgs to a series of tablets/phones via an app and built in Wifi? That would be some shit to talk about. That would be useful. Sending files directly from my camera would require a data plan. Sending them to my/clients phones/tablets requires tech Canon has already shown they can manage. You want to buy your next 5D from At&T/Verizon? Really?

    I can’t believe i just wasted 5 mins on that… Back to edits.

    • The x100s viewfinder sux ass. That’s why it’s mentioned that any EVF canon includes should be high res and look like the optical viewfinder. And I think that’s why Canon Inc. is taking their time with it as well. If you’re going to do it, do it well, not like the crap that exists right now.
      The 60D sux donkey dick. So does the 70D when it comes to image quality. We need the flip out screen on the models that actually are still capable of taking technically decent looking pictures.

  6. An EVF that looks like a real viewfinder would cost lots of money to develop and to produce. Sony’s EVF on the NEX is so so. When you come from a DSLR culture, it’s hard to look at a flipped LCD screen without viewfinder. Which reminds me why Canon still hasn’t developed an EVF on the new EOS-M2 (I really thought they would have done it).

    It’s very hard to find out what the next “big thing” in camera will be. Personally the marketing model from Canon or Nikon sucks, they just want to preserve their cash cows. Now we got Sony that tries different things or little companies (Olympus, Fuji, …etc) but i think it will be up to us consumers that will make the difference. A few decades ago, when we went from films to DSLR I still remember people yelling that DSLR sucked balls and would never compete with films. A few years later, and oh boy it took some time, everybody accepted DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras might win in the end with EVF and we will find them on DSLRs bodies. Who knows. It won’t mean it will be a better technology either. Or maybe we will have cameras with more software than hardware (a little bit like the smartphone market) but smartphones are not on par with DSLRs, it’s going to take decades to close that gap.

    Off topic: where can I find relevant information on the new Canon’s Digic6 proc?

    Now please i will go play with my new lenses: canon 135mm f/2.0, canon 85mm f/1.8, canon 50mm f/1.4, canon 100-400mm f/5.6 and well a bower 35mm f/1.4 that i received from B&H from NYC. I need a happy christmas this year. Merry Christmas to everybody.

  7. Pingback: Dear Santa…. | Fake Chuck Westfall

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