Is traditional photography dead?

January 21, 2013  •  1 Comment

IPHONE5

Is traditional photography dead?

The world is changing about us at a dizzying pace. The information revolution marches forward and we grow more interconnected each day. The impact on the world of photography has been huge. The cameras and lenses have gotten much smaller and more powerful. Companies such as Panasonic, Sony, Canon and others are releasing products with built in Wi-Fi and GPS just to name some of the new features. But forces outside of these companies have shaken photography as we know it. The truly amazing thing is the camera was almost an afterthought. The smartphones and tablets have arrived and photography will never be the same.

With the latest editions of the smart phone and tablets from companies such as Apple and Google, the way we acquire our photos seems to have changed overnight. These amazing devices serve multiple roles, phone, GPS, camera and the applications (apps) on both the IPhone and Android system multiply every day and now form a multi-billion dollar industry. With internet connectivity built in we are always connected. With these powerful, mobile devices, consumers literally have a world of information at their fingertips wherever they may be. At no point in history has so much power (information) been in so many people’s hands but I digress. We were talking about photography.

We can all see it so we all photograph it! Now using your smart phone, the world is your picture. You see a cute cat lying down on the porch as you walk to school? Snap! Captured and uploaded. A homeless man on street? Snap, uploaded. Out with the crew on a crazy Friday night cutting loose? Snap! (but you might not want to upload those!) Websites have sprung up to support this new industry. Apps like Snap speed are available to instantly customize your image converting it to a “film” look or traditional black and white. The explosion in pictures across the web of uploads from smart phones and tablets is mindboggling! No need to buy or carry around a camera and lenses and all the things you need for traditional camera gear. The megapixel size on the latest Samsung Galaxy and IPhone is approaching the size of traditional cameras and the image quality on the latest generations of smart phones is superb. Is traditional photography dead?

Before we start writing the eulogy of traditional photography, a pause may be in order. Even with the amazing advances in technology, a smart phone still falls short in a couple of areas. First, interchangeable lenses on a camera allow a degree of flexibility not found (yet) on a smart phone. Secondly, the sensor on most Micro Four Thirds or traditional DSLR cameras is head and shoulders above the smart phone. With my gear, I can zoom far out and capture some pretty decent images that are printable! That is another gotcha on even the latest smart phones. Another big advantage is video. On most traditional cameras, video image quality will beat most smart phones because of the compromises required to pack all those features into a smart phone.

So don’t go packing away your traditional camera just yet! If you care about image quality, flexibility and printability the smart phone is a distant second. That being said, it must be admitted that traditional photographers and the companies that manufacture cameras must be a bit nervous. We are being stalked the way digital technology stalked film photography. Yes, most traditional photographers have better cameras compared to smart phones but the gap is closing rapidly and now an entire generation is just using the smart phone. Is traditional photography dead? Maybe not, but over the next decade our “traditional” means of acquiring pictures will change into something very different from today. I, for one, welcome the journey wherever it takes us!

Comments? Feedback? What are your thoughts? Let me hear what you think!

 


Comments

Cody Ruple(non-registered)
I love that topic! I have many times over wondered the same thing! Sometimes when I'm way up in the mountains and it's hot or rainy and I have a backpack PLUS what feels like 30lbs of camera gear, I ask myself why in the name of all those great am I lugging expensive cumbersome camera gear up a mountain when I have an iPhone that takes pretty good pics!! But then I get home and upload my photos and I'm glad I chose my camera over my iPhone. I have also found myself asking if the DSLR would eventually fed away due to the increasing technology with phones, P&S, filters etc. I am sad to think of that in some regards.. I hope the DSLR is here to stay!! I also hope that in society's desire for better, faster and flashier things doesn't allow photo editing software to overshadow the exquisite beauty of the raw untouched photograph.
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