26 September 2013

The Online Photographer: “Open Mike: Simple Cameras”

Canon IXUS 255 HS black

But camera manufacturers don't seem constitutionally capable of making a super-simple camera. They must be deeply convinced that the complexity of the feature set (which certainly does appeal to a lot of us) is an indivisible part of how they add value to their product, and the temptation to add more and more is something they can't forswear even for one product. I mean, with hundreds of cameras on the market, wouldn't you think they could make one that was super-simple, just for that segment of the population that wants it? And market it that way. You'd think. But no.

I think it's one of the "stealth reasons" why cellphones are encroaching on the camera market so rapidly. Not the only reason, not the main reason, but a reason. (I also think that as cameraphones gain an ever-enlarging share of the camera market, the cameras in them will inexorably get more complicated.)

Mike Johnston

I’m quite surprised to see this theory coming from a large photo blog. Haven’t they ever heard of ’s IXUS line – or PowerShot SD/ELPH in the US?! It’s compact, has basically only two buttons (the On-Off switch and the shutter; you can largely ignore the other settings and still get great photos), and recent models have touchscreens and Wi-Fi, enabling them to share images directly on the web without downloading them to a PC. The iPhone camera is not that much simpler if you look at the recent additions: Panorama, HDR, square mode, filters, etc.

The real problem with compact cameras is that, no matter how small and convenient, you won’t carry them around with you all the time. On the other hand your smartphone is always in your pocket, ready to snap a quick shot at a party, a spontaneous scene on the street or a lovely sunset. Even if the quality is poorer – which is not really the case anymore – the smartphone will win over a dedicated camera by just being there when you need it.

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