With 2012 coming to an end, it is appropriate to consider what was the major technological event to hit the industry. Without doubt, it was the advent of Smartphones. I remember some six or seven years ago meeting a senior manager of Nokia.
In an arrogant tone, designed to test my knowledge, he asked, “Who is the biggest manufacturer of cameras in the world?” Canon, I quickly retorted. Nay, he said, you are so wrong. It is Nokia. The camera phones of 2006, however, were in no position to give competition even to the humblest digital compact. In fact, some of them were guaranteed to put you off photography with their dismal results.
Six years is, however, a long time in the camera phone business and today’s Smartphones are indeed posing a challenge to the compact camera at the lower end. True, Smartphones are still very
expensive but they perform an increasing range of functions and the camera installed in most of them produces some pretty decent results.
Just as an example, let’s look at Samsung’s Galaxy S 3. Launched in India in July 2012, the S 3 is
an Android phone featuring a massive 4.8” High Definition Super Amoled screen. It features headphone, Micro USB and Micro SD ports and works on a Micro SIM card from your telecom operator.
Coming to the camera, the S 3 features an 8 MP sensor, has a flash facility, can take self portraits (1.9 MP) and can also shoot in black and white. The camera features a f/2.6 autofocus lens, manually selectable ISOs from 100-800, image stabilisation, zero shutter lag and a HDR mode. It also features a particularly good video mode. Pictures taken with the S 3 were crisp with good colour accuracy and fair dynamic range. Clearly, they were in the same league as a good 8-10 MP digital compact.
Obviously, the imaging majors are worried. Smartphones clearly knock the bottom out of the lower end of the digital compact market. Presently the high end compacts are not affected, but who knows what can happen tomorrow. The SLR has little to fear currently as more and more SLRs feature full frame sensors. But the lower end of the market is certainly going, going….gone.
Fortunately, for Samsung it is present in both Smartphones and digital cameras. We dare say though
that Smartphones are more important to Samsung and are certainly raking in more money.
H. S. Billimoria