I have experience with Sony, and their firmware barely changed in the last decade. Their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mostly doesn't work. Touch screens are from a bygone era: laggy, imprecise, and without multi-touch. They don't have resolution good enough to check if the photos came out sharp. Their phone apps are a clunky afterthought.
Smartphones are running circles around them with computational photography. "HDR" mode on Sony cameras is slow and primitive. I'm not a pro photographer, so I can't justify spending time manually tweaking every RAW file when smartphones do it well 99% of the time.
Given the social cross-pollination between Japan and Taiwan, I wouldn't be surprised if a similar pattern held true there as well.
Yup. Not just in Asia. The US suffered from that, as well. It may have changed (for the US), by now, as I spent 27 years at a Japanese hardware company.
I spent most of my career, as a software dev at hardware companies, and got the brunt of that crap. It was infuriating.
During my time, I wrote some very good software. In the early days, when my team was given a lot of leeway, it was sent out, and got [mostly] positive reviews.
As time went on, Japan got more and more involved with/in control of the software development that we did, and threw more and more restrictions at us.
We were forced to do a standard hardware-centric waterfall development process. If I even mentioned the word "agile," I might as well have just gotten up and left the meeting, because everything I said, after that, was ignored.
They took away all of the user interface from us, and we were just doing "engine" work, which was actually pretty cool, but, they sucked at UI.
Towards the end, I was reading terrible reviews about our software, and tried writing stuff that would directly address these gripes.
My work, and any similar work from my team, was ignored. Instead, they had some disastrous relationships with external companies, under (I assume) the impression that we were not capable of writing "modern" software, and these folks were (they were able to write "modern" software, because their work was terrible, and I have issues with the Quality of "modern" software, in general).
That's not good, either.
Hardware really needs a "measure twice, cut once" approach.
It can be made more iterative, but that is expensive.
Nowadays, the word "Agile" means "Waterfall, but with different names," or "Tear off all your clothes and run naked through the bluebells! Do what you want!"
I'm really big on Discipline and Quality. It's entirely possible to have a flexible and iterative development process, but there's no way to avoid the difficult bits. They just get shifted around.
Curious. In the US, the software people can usually make a lot more money so even many EE’s end up in software. I wonder if it’s the opposite in some of these countries, where software people are paid less than hardware people.
Software engineers in the US who do not work on physical products are highly paid, because they can potentially create nearly infinite return on investment with near-zero marginal product costs.
But software for widgets doesn't have that infinite margin ratio. So firmware suffers greatly. Think auto infotainment systems, smart-home electronics, appliance interfaces, point-of-sale kiosks, etc.
I think a big part of Apple's success was getting both hardware and software right.
In Japan and Taiwan, both EEs and SWEs are generally underpaid. SWEs and some EEs go to the USA or (gasp) mainland China to make more money, since software talent is generally more appreciated in those two countries. The same applies in other Asian countries (e.g. HK and Singapore, where it is software vs. financial services rather than software vs hardware).
Think: Windows only, often IE/Edge only, ActiveX, crashes constantly. Random UI strings are in Chinese. Barely, barely usable.
It doesn’t even matter how big the companies are or if they’re a “hardware” company. All the lumberyards in my area still use DOS era machines that I’m not even sure are networked. I know that at least one of them runs the whole thing by printing the day’s transactions from each computer and paying a secretary for data entry into their similarly ancient accounting/inventory management software. Cost of land and fuel overwhelm labor costs in the lumber business so there’s zero incentive to even try
Also people get oddly grouchy if buildings fall down on them.
If a tiny local bridge collapses, with nobody on it, it probably still is newsworthy and people get upset.
The bridge doesn’t need to withstand the river suddenly turning into lava or the atmosphere becoming sulphuric. The driver has to be prepared for whatever Windows and the hardware put up.
DSLR manufacturers got big by making great cameras. They didn't really feel the need for making good software. Compare this to Google which got big by implementing a clever algorithm and using distributed computing.
To accommodate the greater scope of the web the language has evolved. It's fast, supports multiple paradigms, and never makes breaking changes, so your code will run the same 20 years from now.
Put another way: Systems with great benefits are able to survive their great failings.
This dynamic explains most "inexplicable" situations where something seemingly terrible in certain specific ways enjoys continued success.
But only if you can get it to work in all browsers and derivatives today, including their versions of the last 20 years.
In general, I think any engineering community that congregates around a particular set of issues is just trying their best to address their needs and build solutions to their problems, and it's important to respect those. Rather than being dismissive, exposure and cross-pollination is how we lift the boat together.
If they design cameras from the users perspective and expectations there is still a lot of room to take on phones.
I just want to shoot, possibly edit, publish the images on my server and have some api to make the appropriate database entries.
In stead I have to hook up the cam over usb then pretend it is a slow drive??? Oh and the battery is draining while doing this??? Some models have replaceable batteries that you have to remove to charge???? As a hard drive it scores 0/10
I have to start up an editor, find the right image, load it and find a folder to store the edit???? what nonsens workflow!
Iphones let you shoot the images straight into the upload dialogue.. but its not using the wonderful hacks the photo app offers.
Maybe camera makers should just make a frankenphone the size of a brick with a few TB of storage, automatic wifi connectivity (with more options so that one never has to look at it), a week worth of battery. The extra weight helps making sharper images and probably a cloud account with a list of highly configurable API's
Ill be as weird as to suggest website names could have physical buttons on the top so that one can shoot things straight onto facebook and press delete later.
Even as someone with a background in mechanical engineering the degree of complexity behind some software products, such as Windows, is really impressive.
It used to be quite similar in South Korea until the more recent rise of domestic software giants like Naver and Kakao Corp.
In a lot of the East Asian countries, there is a large gap in desirability between the large, established employers and smaller companies due to outrageous differences in pay grade, benefits and job stability. So new business has a tougher time making it to escape velocity and offering significant numbers of jobs.
A recent experience at a neobanking startup from SE Asia reaffirms the point. Despite the product built around an API-only model, the firm was operations heavy when it came to decision making and investing in people, as it was believed to be the core company strength (for a variety of reasons including the institutional bureaucracy, corruption in these markets, etc.)
TL;DR people work where the money flows. Companies get what they pay for. And the investors pay for what they think is the strength or is likely to sell at inflated valuations.
About once a quarter I am subject to conversations where they remark condescendingly about how flabbergasted they are at SWE salaries. I stopped engaging beyond "Mmm if you're interested you should learn more about the field".
This interaction is beyond grating and is detrimental to our relationships.
The software development field is quite new compared to the other engineering disciplines and many, many decisions are made on gut feel, intuition or out right personal preference. Alan Kay has some very good talks on this specific subject, referring to the current state of our field as a Cargo Cult.
However, I would also say firmware would be the least expensive to engineer because the requirements for that type of software are better known and more rigid.
Even during development, the only cost of iterating over errors until you get it right is just time.
But HW engineers just don't have the luxury of making 100 iterations of a product until it works, nor the safety net of "we'll update it over the internet". They must put a lot of effort into testing and verification until they say "ok, this is good, let's ship it."
Also, failure modes of mechanical products are often known and intuitive.
I am guessing that before the advent of Internet, the average quality of shipped software was higher on average. Nobody would dare ship a hot mess like Battlefield 2042 if they knew it's the last version they ship.
Mech eng processes on one side, ASIL-style safety requirements in the middle, and someone wishing to pour a bucket load of Android apps into the same computer from the other end.
The discipline of robotics (which is really what you're talking about here — cars are just very manually-micromanaged robots these days) is all about subsumptive distributed architectures: e.g. the wheels in an electric car don't need a control signal to tell them to brake if they're skidding; they have a local connection to a skid sensor that allows them to brake by themselves, and they instead need a control signal to stop braking in such a situation.
This is why, in anything from planes to trains to cars, you see the words "auxiliary" or "accessory" used to describe infotainment displays et al — the larger systems are architected such that even an electrical fault (e.g. dead short) in the "accessory" (non-critical) systems can't impact QoS for the "main" (critical) systems.
I really can't imagine a world where they've got engineers building the car that understand that, but who are willing to let Android apps run on the same CPU that's operating the car. They'd very clearly insist for separate chips; ideally, separate logic boards, connected only by opto-isolated signals and clear fault-tolerant wire protocols.
In short: Yes.
The point you're making is valid in general and you provide valuable context. A modern car does have many different computers, and there is a lot of intentional partitioning (and even some redundancy) into different CPUs, as well as guests under hypervisors.
For example, a typical headunit computer (the "infotainment computer") tends to contain two to three SoCs performing different duties, and one or two of them will run hypervisors with multiple guest operating systems. And that is just one of multiple computers of that weight class in the overall car architecture.
That said, there's an overall drive to integrate/consolidate the electrical architecture into fewer, beefier systems, and you do now encounter systems where you have mixed criticality within a single computational partition, e.g. a single Linux kernel running workloads that contribute both to entertainment and safety use cases. One specific driver is that they sometimes share the same camera hardware (e.g. a mixed-mode IR/RGB camera doing both seat occupancy monitoring tasks and selfies).
Safety-vs-not-safety aside, you also simply have different styles of development methodology (i.e. how do you govern a system) run into each other within the same partition. AUTOSAR Adaptive runs AUTOSAR-style apps right next to your POSIX-free-for-all workloads on the same kernel, for example.
What however is typically not the case in that scenario is that the safety workload in a partition is the only contributor to its safety use case, i.e. typically you will always have another partition (or computer) also contribute to assure an overall safe result.
In more auto terms, you might now have ASIL B stuff running alongside those Android apps on the same kernel, but you will still have an ASIL D system somewhere.
In general, you will start to see more of both in cars: More aviation- and telco-style redunancy and fault tolerance, and more mixed criticality. The trends are heading in both directions simultaneously.
> I don't think that's true even in entirely software-mediated-control vehicles like Teslas.
Tesla has been in the media for bugs such as flipping tracks on your Bluetooth-tethered phone or opening the wrong website in the headunit web browser rebooting the Instrument Cluster display. This is an example of mixed-criticality (done wrong). Many other cars are not architected quite as poorly. However, IC and HU/central displays sharing the same computer (not necessarily the same computational partition/guest OS) is increasingly common.
In traditional engineering, there's at least a BOM and manufacturing processes that create pressure to keep things simpler. If physical items were engineered like software, you'd have people bolting a keyboard onto the monitor chassis they're designing because they needed an 'on' button, and keyboards have buttons. Obviously they'd then also have to add in an always-on raspberry pi to plug the USB keyboard into and emit a GPIO signal when the button is pressed. You'd get a lot more complexity, but for most of it, "impressive" would be the wrong word.
Bolting an entire keyboard on to a monitor to add a single extra button...
Thankfully the cost of adding physical atoms prevents such outrageously dumb ideas.
It's hard to overcome preconceived notions. As we know from politics, emotions are much stronger than logic. You can't simply say, "be logical!" or "change your view".
So end users end up having to reverse engineer it just to fix issues that the manufacturer should have addressed.
And - the real kicker - far too often it turns out to be based open source work, with a few random modifications, distributed in violation of the license.
Sure, but you still have to deliver the punchline right.
What software did you use to lock it down? I have some older iPhones laying around.
I did this for a while a couple years back to discourage myself from spending so much time on my phone. Worked great and I would have kept it up if it were not for my wife constantly complaining that I couldn't look anything up or use Yelp or Messenger or... :D
Then smartphones came along and there was another commodity platform that gave good price-performance. Around that time Intel also got interested in making low-performance parts with low sticker prices but that were highly uneconomical if performance or user experience mattered.
For kids, and for other kinds of camera products (ahem, GoPro).
The firmware may be bad, yet I take a picture faster on my Sony compact camera than I do with my smartphone thanks to the physical buttons. I can also do it while cycling while doing the same with my smartphone is annoying as fuck in winter with gloves, in summer with sweat and expose the risk of losing and destroying my precious pocket computer.
Also for some my phone screen show as a black screen when using my polarized sunglasses while the lcd of my camera is still visible and allow me to point and shoot quickly. No idea what is the difference in tech on both that would explain that difference.
Most flagship smartphones may be super responsive but the average sub 200usd smartphone won't necessarily fire up the camera app faster than my Sony compact camera. And there is no way I will buy a 600 to 1000usd smartphone. I'd rather repair/replace either a 200usd smartphone or a second hand compact camera in the event I drop it and break it than a single 1000usd one.
Also from my experience with friends using flagships and apple ones, even the best smartphones are crappy under low light. Smartphones are great during the day, once it is dark they are pretty much useless.
I will encourage you to check out the Google Pixel line of phones! A double tap of the power button starts up the camera immediately even if the phone is off and then a press of the volume button takes a shot. Can easily do it in gloves!
It's a 2011 model and AFAIK the latest in the line. You have to go much bigger to get better quality. I'd buy an updated model in a heartbeat.
I've got a compact around here somewhere, specifically because it can take getting dunked. With the pandemic my intended use case has gone away and I'm not sure where it is now.
And I can understand Panasonic and Nikon getting out of it when most people interested in a compact are looking for the Sony RX100 or Canon G*X cameras.
If you rotate your phone 90° you'll be able to see the screen.
> Their Wi-Fi and Bluetooth mostly doesn't work.
YES YES YES. And they don't support such basic use cases as "open an access point and let the connected device do the work of selecting pictures" - no, you have to select the photos on the camera and then call them down from the mobile app. Super "great" when you're in the field that I am and document rallies etc. so you need to get a photo up to social media as fast as possible.
> They don't have resolution good enough to check if the photos came out sharp.
Yeah, same for lighting, another annoyance from hell. Personally, for shots in complicated conditions I've grabbed an used Blackmagic VideoAssist 4K... works way better.
> I'm not a pro photographer, so I can't justify spending time manually tweaking every RAW file when smartphones do it well 99% of the time.
Problem with smartphones, even modern ones, is the quality goes down dramatically in low-light scenarios. That's simple physics, the pixels are like 100x smaller. AI can cover for a lot of that, but it's noticeable enough to not make it worth my while - and for what it's worth, there are no Android tablets on the market with a halfway decent camera.
Sony's hardware is the best in class, there is no match at all for the A7S series from anyone in low-light, but the sorry state of their software is laughable. And the best of it is: it's all Linux under the hood. The older A7/A6000 series actually exposed parts of it via an Android subsystem layer where one could write apps for it after jailbreaking - too bad that the Android layer was/is fossilized (IIRC, Android 4-ish?!) and so they ripped it out after the A7S3 :/
I bought the camera (A7 IV) because it has ethernet support, which I thought, great. I'll just be able to scp or samba them off or something. Absolutely not.
... what? That's not an option at least for the models that I have. Hell, if the camera would automatically connect to my phone's hotspot and then transfer the photos, that would be a working solution for me.
Just wtf are they smoking over at Sony HQ?!
I’m a photographer and your comment made me laugh. Everyone in photo circles hates the Sony menus on their cameras because they’re the worst.
Canon, Panasonic, and Fuji have substantially better menu systems that we all far prefer.
I find it funny your opinion has been informed by using the worst the camera sphere has to offer!
That being said, these menus and UIs are aimed at pros who do nothing else but take photos. It’s a coding IDE, not a simple text editor. It’s going to be foreign to the casual user. That is by design.
Also, the computational photography is a nuisance for our work. We want the LEAST edited photo file possible every time.
I understand your lack of interest in editing, it’s a chore that even we have to do, but it’s also one of our power tools. We choose this, it is not a step backwards for us!
It sounds like “professional” photography just isn’t for you!
However, before I start a bunch of arguments, I will say one thing. There is always room for improvement and they could likely do UX/UI analysis to further improve things. Though, from my use, I do find it to be very hardware focused which feels intuitive to me and those in my photo circles. I think it’s the prerequisite of knowing shutter, ISO, and aperture as well as focus pulling concepts. That makes me “know what to look for”.
edit: Please indicate when you make edits to your comments. Your comment is now very different to the one I responded to.
I know this may sound “misleading” but I’ve only started “real” photography for a year or two and I find the Canon and Panasonic menus quite straightforward.
I like the very hardware focused setup of DSLR/mirror-less cameras.
I would also politely ask you don’t call me “misleading” just because you disagree with my opinion. I’m not in here spreading misinformation to start polarizing discussions. I’m merely sharing my opinion.
And after you're edit, I'm going to add "condescending" to my description as well.
> It sounds like “professional” photography just isn’t for you!
As if the only reason anyone would disagree with you is because they are casuals
I can understand your frustration. I was looking at other comments and felt I wanted to add further reasons why I feel the lack of usability (as they see it) is by design (which makes the UI good, not bad), and not because of laziness on behalf of camera manufacturers. I can see why you'd think I'm being misleading saying that camera UI's are good, also I still fully believe that a Canon/Pana/Fuji UI is substantially easier to navigate than a Sony one. This is only my personal experience though.
> And after you're edit, I'm going to add "condescending" to my description as well.
> As if the only reason anyone would disagree with you is because they are casuals
I don't mean to say the only reason is because they are casual. I meant to point out that because they want computational photography and also hate editing raws, that using a dedicated camera is unlikely going to be fun for them. If you hate two of the most important parts of a photographers workflow to ensure the creative ability to edit a photo exactly the way you want, then yeah, that likely means you're a "casual".
I can see how "bad UI" and "computational photography + editing RAW" was mixed up a bit though. I could have been clearer as to what specifically I was addressing, my apologies.
To clarify on "casuals" though, I don't think being casual is bad. I'm a casual gamer, a casual driver, a casual cook. That isn't a negative either. It's just the truth, I admit I'm not a pro who dedicates the time necessary in those fields.
When a casual person tells a pro "I hate the parts of your work that are necessary to do your job/hobby properly" and then further target their frustration at a UI that might be confusing to them by design (as its meant for a different type of user) seems like something other folks might find interesting. I see it as a very neat case of user targeting and persona analysis, similar to software.
Canon/Nikon/Fuji/Sony are targeting photographers who want a dedicated OS with cutting edge hardware. If the hardware is good, they'll tolerate a stripped down, minimal camera OS for the sake of speed. It's similar to why you don't often see people driving a Formula 1 car on their daily commute.
I feel you, they definitely are out to make a profit and that definitely affects the value you get for your money (as opposed to what the hardware can actually do).
Oh, how fast is progress in the world of technology.
I remember 6 years ago when google showed some prototypes of night photo from a smartphone using long expose. Meanwhile my Galaxy Note 4 made blurry unusable mess during the 14th of july nightly event I tried it at, while my gf DLSR were clear and great. Ah ah, smartphones will never be able to do that.
How 4 years ago Night Sight blew me away with their demonstration and almost made me go pixel.
How 3 years ago Samsung added a Night mode to my S9+ through a regular update and while the photo took a whole second to take the result was usually clean and crisp compared to the noisy mess on my previous Note 4, making it actually usable for static scene or portrait shot.
How the night mode on my Note 10 was genuinely great to the point it was just another mode as long as you avoid the usual night tricks like light sources.
How my new S22 Ultra for the first time passed my "smartphone will never really be good for night event shots" by taking picture during the 14th of july fireworks the quality of which I would scientifically classify as "pretty fucking great".
And now it's just a basic expected computational feature.
Sometime we forget how much progress is being made due to how incremental they all are, but damn, and that's just one feature on a piece of glass and plastic that's insanely powerful and filled with features in my pocket.
PS: the lack of Apple mention is merely because I'm not an Apple guy, I'm sure they had the same insane path
(Edit: for those curious, it's Samsung's "AI Super-resolution" tech, which I expect works similarly to AI upscaling tech e.g in Adobe's products. The phone I'm using in this example is the Fold 4)
And I don't even have the best smartphone camera on the market right now. That prize goes to the S22 ultra which has two separate telephoto lenses (cameras?), 3x and 10x. https://www.samsung.com/uk/support/mobile-devices/check-out-...
Yeah when you sit down and think about it, it's nuts where we are today relative to last year, five years ago, and a decade ago. Especially considering 2019 still feels like yesterday because of COVID.
Also what phone is it?
Link to shots from a techradar article  (note that these are lossy compressed, even the 1x has artefact, so I put them only to compare between them / the zoom levels):
We can agree that the 100x shot is useless, and the 30x shot too except maybe in some specific situations, but the 10x shots are very much good. Perfect or worthy or a dedicated camera with a zoom ? No. But for every day use absolutely.
[10x, Dual Pixel AF], OIS,
FOV 11°, 1/3.52”, 1.12µm
Its #4 in the graphic.
Space zoom is 10x on top of that.
I have S22 ultra and camera is even better there - 10x optical zoom properly sees much better than my eyes, so not only its great for catching kids running around moments without kids being tiny figures on each photo, but its usable ie if I want to check some remote street sign/name without walking 100m closer to read it myself.
Night cameras on top of the line phones these days sees much better than human eyes in the dark too - pics I snap during my night walks (one easy way how to clear my mind and actually do some light exercise) show so much more details than my eyes can resolve, once stopped me from falling down some nasty ravine when I saw just outlines of the terrain. All handheld in almost pitch dark.
Plus S22 ultra has this special mode it turns itself internally in when shooting moon on higher zooms (around 30x) - its more of a party trick since its just 1 subject, but within past few years it was the only time I could see (and produce in this case) literal jaw-dropping effect on folks around me. It looks nice, craters and seas in sharp details, also handheld (30x in the night, thats quite an achievement). They all rushed out with their latest xiaomis and apples just to snap the same, all ending up with small blurry white blobs and not much more.
The reason 10x shot look so great is because it uses the 50MP main AND 10MP telephoto lenses so it has enough details available to produce very clear shot.
The S22 ultra has a better set of cameras, but I needed the foldy tech to have a portable tablet.
One touch removal of people and background intrusions (even goes as far as suggesting items for removal).
So, not far I imagine!
Looking back at pics from the iPhone 3GS is wild, totally different world.
The same has been said about some of the PlayStation UI’s.
In my opinion, this is more of a Sony problem and less of a camera problem. Though that may just be me!
As soon as one looks at photo on larger 4K monitor the difference is striking. And you do not even have to dick with raw files to see the difference. Plain JPEG coming out of my relatively ancient D800 puts best smartphone cam to shame. Size matters and full frame sensor vs one in smartphone are incomparable.
That is not to say that smartphone can not take decent photos and in many cases what is being photographed matters way more than the picture quality as long as it is not atrocious.
Sensibly, workflows optimize for the smartphone consumption use case.
And yes, that hurts as photographers who obsessed over sharpness and pixel-level fidelity since the invention of digital cameras, but that just doesn't seem to be where the zeitgeist is at anymore. People never really cared in the first place.
It's similar to how music producers obsess over whether a particular synth sound was made with analog gear or was a "cheap digital knockoff". The listener never cared in the first place. They just want to be moved wherever it is that they are, which happens to be on the phone 99% of the time in photography.
If you want to further process the image you want the best quality input you can get. Think digitally zooming/reframing, or choosing from a bigger dynamic range to use the colors you prefer. In a lower quality input you might be stuck with whatever photo you took, while the high-quality input gives you more information to correct the picture, even if the end resolution ends up being the same.
P.S. Good printed photos also have more definition that most monitors (idk if 4k, but I believe comparable), for products like printed wedding photos.
Maybe. I do not care. I only use phone as to call, GPS, controlling some gadgets, take a pic and that is it. I do the rest on PC on big screens.
That said, if you're just taking snaps to share with friends I don't see why you'd care about any of that : )
Launched five years ago at $3000.
Currently available for ~$600: https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?&_nkw=nikon+d800&LH_Sold=1&L...
Smartphones simply cannot resolve the same level of detail that a proper camera can, regardless of how many MP of resolution they provide. Computational AI helps a bit, but...
Cameras usually take longer to start and get ready to take a shot (or run out of battery sooner if you keep them on all the time) and have slower autofocus. May screw up exposure. It's harder to check the photos. Extra steps are needed to get the photos out of the camera. And it annoys me to no end that my dumb camera can't automatically adjust its clock and the timezone.
This is definitely not true. Cameras may take slightly longer to start than a phone takes to turn its screen on, but the same amount of time (or quicker) to get to "shooting a photo." (Yes, even with shortcuts like double-tap the power button on a phone.)
The Ricoh GR III is ready to shoot in 0.7 seconds, and that includes extending a retracted lens barrel. And this is a pocketable camera.
Fast AF on a phone is mostly due to the fact that they usually use very wide-angle lenses. There's a wider range of acceptable focus. Newer lenses and cameras (i.e. the last 5-7 years) on a DSLR are still way faster.
> Cameras usually take longer to start and get ready to take a shot (or run out of battery sooner if you keep them on all the time) and have slower autofocus.
This is not true, especially if we're talking about DSLRs (as opposed to mirrorless). I used to have a Canon 40D. I never turned it off. It would stay "on" in the bag for however long I didn't use it. It consumed next to nothing when in "sleep" mode, but came out of it ready to shoot at the touch of a button. Autofocus was plenty fast, too. Ditto for a friend's Sony A700 (same vintage APS-C DSLR). I understand current mirrorless cameras have much better autofocus, even the mid-range ones.
Even my pen-f (mirrorless) wakes up or turns on much quicker than you can slide around your finger on an iphone. Autofocus isn't great in low-light, though.
What? If you set up a camera and a phone on the table and do a timed run from the moment of reaching out and grabbing it to having a well-focused image taken, the camera will win 100% of the time. Phones with their touch screen and laggy UI are incredibly slow in comparison.
> or run out of battery sooner if you keep them on all the time
The exact opposite. A camera will last for months on a single charge if not heavily used.
Exactly. Or when you print them out.
On the wall here I have a printed photo about 4ft wide, taken from a cropped section of a photo (not even the full frame) and it looks stunning. And this isn't even from a newer pro camera, it was taken with a ~15 year old Nikon D40.
I hope I'll view photos on 4K someday...
In general case, you're right, but modern smartphones have come a long way.
I end up just doing SD card -> iphotos which will sync up to my phone later.
One exception is the gaming industry: Sony Computer Entertainment in particular treats its developers similarly to the US (Ken Kutaragi drove this) while the rest of Sony follows the standard Japanese model. Bandai and Nintendo are similar, though not quite as much as Sony, and Sega a bit more traditional.
Cameras are designed to capture & store the light in a way we can interpret later. They intentionally weren’t designed to edit or interpret the light and make corrections.
Smart phones automatically do interpret and “correct” images. This can lead to artificially created artifacts in the image files. Professional photographers will often prefer the raw because they can apply their own edits without said artifacts.
Now sure, camera photos are good for 99% of people, 99% of the time. BUT because the software on cameras were never designed to do those corrections, they just don’t. This makes night images worse, unless you decrease shutter speed.
On a side note, it’s this very fact that I find it difficult to accept cell phone footage as video evidence. Particularly, if you’re looking at fine detail, as the filters often modify / generate the fine detail.
That's one thing, but still there are many features of the camera firmware that people want to have, and cameras failed to deliver. One of such thing was apps - Sony provided few in some of their camera, but next model removed them, because they couldn't implement that in a model-agnostic way. They just don't get software.
Are there examples of this? The only example I can think of was an accusation a while ago that huawei phones were compositing a stock photo of the moon when taking moon pictures with their phones. They denied the accusation and it wasn't really clear whether it was actually happening or not.
And upscaling tools/etc introduce their own information, and may cause it to make something appear to be there that is actually just compression noise.
But I think you may be playing a bit loose with the ideas of evidence and details. Yes, smartphones “invent” details, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where those changes produce false evidence. You might find details of leaves rendered as watercolor brushstrokes; you won’t find a suspect inserted into a scene.
And remember that film annd magnetic tape cameras also invent details. All of that film grain that we find artistic is not really there. Should we also question what we see on those videos because they aren’t pixel-perfect?
1) Fact that whereas camera technology in smartphones has & is continuing to develop rapidly (computational photography as mentioned is latest major jump), it has largely stagnated within the mid-low tier camera market. Makes sense Panasonic is exiting the market, and other major players like Sony and Fujifilm focusing on the high end.
2) Vast majority users value convenience and ecosystem integration over pure photo quality. In most cases the latest smartphone take "good enough" photographs, so who wants to fiddle with having to transfer images from your standalone camera to your photo before sharing on social media? As the adage goes, "the best camera is the one you have on hand".
Personally I'd love to see something like the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom or Nokia Lumia 808/1020 being revitalized - a camera-first smartphone. How long before Apple or Google enter the DLSR or mirrorless market? Seems inevitable given the large investments both companies already make in smartphone camera photography.
Even chip vendors, who you would would think understand the importance of software, will de-prioritize their software side.
I wonder if it's a sort of macho thing; anyone can learn to write software, but not everyone can get an EE degree.
It also could be that the idea of incremental releases doesn't really exist on the hardware side. Hardware, because it's physical, requires a coordinated release. Then you do the next revision once the inventory gets low. The idea that you can ship on a flexible schedule is alien to the hardware side.
I took a EE microcontrollers class. A lot of EEs struggled writing assembly, and they all had at least an introductory C programming course.
please contain this to twitter. What does "macho" have to do with comparing the relative difficulty of two things and attaching status to the most difficult?
That's how society brought us where we are.
I recently made a photobooth from an old Canon DSLR and a rPi running gphoto: a script takes the images out of the camera and posts them on a server, and people can see them in almost real time.
It's really great, but it would be even better if it was all done in camera.
The brains I want on the camera are for things that actually involve taking the shot. Give me intelligent capture of images for stacking. That entails two things:
1) HDR exposure. Point the camera at something, select HDR. It takes the exposure and examines the frame for any pixels near the extremes of the sensor. If there are any pixels near the top it reshoots exactly the same shot but with a shorter exposure time. Repeat until there are no really bright pixels. On the other end, if there are any really dim pixels reshoot with a slower exposure, repeat as needed.
2) Focus stacking. Manual focus, pick a point. Pick another point. The camera shoots a sequence of exposures moving the focus between the two points.
Professional photographers require good reliable connectivity. Nikon cameras are extremely clunky in this regard.
Similarly, their menu system is atrocious. I am not saying this as somebody who looked at a camera once and said "this is too hard". I ran a photo business from 2008 to 2018, read all the manuals intimately and worked with Nikon cameras daily, and came to it from techie nerd perspective and knew what every button option and mode does in intricate detail.
"Great hardware, horrible software" is well understood state of camera business last 2 decades.
I now have two young kids. I have 4 dslr and two mirrorless cameras at home... And take kids photos with my cell - because it's convenient accessible and fast to transmit. Why can't I have an efficient sharing work flow with my $3000 camera? Because they make sucky closed systems and refuse to change open or learn.
This isn’t an insurmountable problem. Some Nikon camera bodies have Wi-Fi. If they cared to they could make it much much easier to get photos off and process them. It’s just not a focus of theirs.
I agree their hardware and optics are superb. I don't even begin to understand how their work flow or integration are anything but atrocious.
They could make their integration software better or let others do it - but they don't!
I never worked with Sony or Canon, so I cannot say how that compares.
That is, at best, myopic.
Sports photographers need fast connectivity far more than studio photographers. Their whole business is to take, select, and send shots out as fast as possible.
News coverage needs fast connectivity.
Think even wedding photography - the ability to share photos to social networks right after ceremony, or display the couple shots during dinner is a professional USP. Instead, I'm juggling card reader, with my "two fast cards" and laptop and lightroom on my lap during speeches.
Just about every type of photography, professional or consumer, benefits from fast and easy connectivity.
>>And your comment is honestly the first time I hear anybody claim Nikons menu system is "bad"
Possible. we simply have different colleagues and frequent different forums then :).
Their menu system is powerful but poorly designed. Why are there two different types of setting banks? Why aren't there hardware buttons to select them? Why is some stuff unDer shooting but other under 6 layers of custom setting menu? Which is different than setup menu? Why is AF ON setup not under "controls"? And myriad other idiosyncracies.
Just because you're used to it (as am I!) does not make it good.
And again, for myself, I'm in a "shut up and take my money" for camera that would allow me to seemlessly capture and share photography. As you say, that's money in the table. And I'm not alone in my group of friends and colleagues.
My conclusion is the exact opposite. Cellphone cameras are so incredibly slow (measuring time from moment of picking up phone to photo having being taken) that I can't imagine using it for any kid photos since the phtographable moment usually lasts a few seconds, they aren't posing.
I keep my older Nikon DSLR cameras around the house so one is usually within easy reach so I can snap a photo in less than a second when a cute kid moment is happening.
As to the Nikon menus, atrocious is not a word I could use. Sure it's always possible to nitpick something I'd do differently but they work just fine. More importantly, after initial setup it's not something I use much since everything is controlled by the physical buttons and that's the overwhelming win of a DSLR over a phone (and photo quality of course).
My Nikon cameras are setup the way I like them, so everything I need is indeed reachable by physical buttons. This is good - as I said, their menu is powerful. But! When I get a new Nikon camera, despite 15 years of experience... it's a pain to set it up how I want it, and I still chase settings around the menus. So I deem them powerful, but poorly designed.
As to kids photos - it's all down to individual use cases, so lots of room for variation. For myself though, even though like yourself I literally have a DSLR ready to go on the shelf in the family room and on the TV stand in the living room... time to turn on cell and take a photo is far lower/faster then the time to grab the camera and shoot. Add to that, the time to then share that photo is literally 10 seconds via phone, vs realistically days to weeks via camera (by the time I bother taking the card out to the office, transferring photos, ingesting them, processing them, exporting, and then sharing). In majority of cases, DSLR would've taken a higher quality photos. In majority of cases, it doesn't matter.
And then there are all the other cases - playing in backyard, going for a walk, run, adventure, guests, whatever. Phone is there, good enough (hasn't always been the case! In the Note 8 / S8 time, only a few years ago, phones were not good enough, and phones weren't fast enough - now they are! I don't need to log in or face scan the phone, there's a shortcut and a snappy app and fast focus), and it shares so quickly! That sharing is really the winning factor and why I'm peeved expensive cameras don't make it easy to share.
But the big difference, for me, is, most of those pictures are quick pictures that I almost certainly never would have taken with my DSLR camera. I've got thousands of family pictures done on my phone that otherwise probably wouldn't have been taken at all.
When I'm going somewhere or doing something that I know I deliberately want to have pictures of? I still haul around the DSLR. When I want pictures I could only get with a super-telephoto or ultra-wide lens? I still haul around the DSLR.
I do feel that my iPhone has replaced any need for a cheap "compact camera", but I rarely used one after getting my (D)SLR cameras anyway. But I'm not sure that my iPhone has really taken away that much usage share from my DSLR. I just use it to take pictures that I wouldn't have gotten at all otherwise, which has turned out to be quite a few.
Either is adequate for casual photography.
We don't have any cute kids, but I hike and wildlife shows up now and then. I hike with a bridge camera, not because it's any faster or more convenient than my phone, but because of the lens. I have an older flagship phone, I would say the image quality is as good, but I have yet to get a wildlife shot with it due to the lack of zoom range.
My general experience is the harder the shot the more camera you need.
But that's not a realistic comparison since the phone is almost certainly not on the camera screen if I wasn't expecting to take a photo and the phone is just sitting there on the table (or worse, pocket).
Sadly, it doesn’t seem like there are many cameras designed this way anymore.
I don't even remotely understand how that's possible. Did they just contract all of the work out?
So who do you sell a dedicated camera to? A new UI will largely alienate the small market that still exists. The old UI guarantees an unappealing product for the smartphone user.
Ultimately all interfaces have to be easily navigable with buttons and this has consequences.
And interestingly my Tascam 44dw (not a camera, but sound recorder) has also abysmal wifi. Low range, unreliable and seems to be using single TCP connection for sending realtime data which suffers from head-of-line blocking. As if noone there heard about UDP.
Why is wifi such a problem? Weird.
This is offensively stupid and I can’t believe this hasn’t changed in years.
My Canon has locked up hard only once in half a decade of hard use, generating ~8TB of images in adverse conditions. It is sometimes left turned on for months at a time. I sometimes accidentally do terrible things with the power switch and SD card. Lenses are attached/removed without a care in the world. I've never seen a flaw in the function of menus or the corruption of a single image.
I cannot state the same for almost any other software product. I can use it like a tool, not like a computer. That's a sign of good software.
Smartphones have constant "updates" and yearly new OSes, and we think it's marvelous if a two year old phone still functions. Yet digital cameras from 15 years ago still work fine with exactly zero update.
Robustness and dependability are important features. In-the-box HDR is cute but it matters less.
I disagree with smartphone quality. I have what could be considered a close to best of breed in quality iPhone 13 Pro and it's crap. It's a 2009 DSLR with three crap prime lenses stuck to it. It's mostly usable if you shoot ProRAW with it but the processed images (HEIC/JPEG) are really quite fucked up.
Smartphones are lacking the optics, sensors and some other things a real camera has. As a result, they are still a far cry from replacing mid-level and up cameras. Smartphones, as the article points out, are perfectly sufficient for the compact and point-and-shoot market, and as a result killed it / took it over.
And heck, the ergonomics of Nikon blow any smartphone / app way of setting up a camera out of the water ever since before Nikon got serious about DSLRs.
I don't think, 10 years ago, camera manufacturers could've adopted a meaningful integration strategy. They could perhaps have entered the fray as Android phone makers and try to solve it, but it would've been a bigger jump than just integrating.
...Only, as the parent comment says, it barely works, and the UI to get to it is awful, and the WiFi transfer speed is ridiculously slow.
Photo transfer is ridiculously slow, though.
But it does seem to be a clever idea, I'm imagining a phone that has surface contacts on its back, and a Go-Pro-sized camera module that you can attach to the phone (with precise magnets, so the surface contacts on both devices would connect both devices electronically as well) and be recognized as a peripheral for the phone.
But I guess if already have a pro camera, you don't want to need to slap your phone on it to get it to work.
I guess there is a perception that it is like hardware « once its out its sold and we don’t care about it ».
At this stage I am seriously wondering if I will ever replace my camera with a new one or just be happy with a new smartphone. Maybe the camera will just stay a a sidehobby.
A whole decade of people in enthusiast photography communities collectively playing devil’s advocate “why do you want that feature, whats a UI have to do with taking a photo, I never understood the point of a Live Photo, bluetooth? Thats what tethering and an external contraption is for….”
meanwhile the rest of the world just turned around and walked away
They just don't get to put their name on the resulting "camera" in this new world.
* While I was taking pictures at night, two teenagers came to me and asked me to take a picture of them. Apparently one of them wanted to know what it would look like, since the fact that I had a camera clearly indicated that I knew what I was doing (it didn't). I didn't have the heart to tell him that it would look pretty much the same as the phone he definitely had in his pocket, but luckily he gave me a wrong Instagram address so that problem solved itself.
* On that same night, one guy started yelling at me (pushing his head against mine) because he thought I had taken a picture of his car.
* I was interviewed in a popular tourist destination, and the interviewer explicitly asked me about why I had a camera instead of a phone.
This, combined with the lack of geo tags, often wrong timestamps, slow startup time, and useless tiny batteries, I use my camera rarely.
Depends on the camera and other such features. But you're right that it's not a given.
> often wrong timestamps
I'm confused by this. I suppose if you leave your camera off for years at a time, have dead batteries and don't bother checking it - then sure. But in general the RTC on cameras is very good and not an issue. Even if it clock drifts by a minute or two, does it really make a difference?
> slow startup time
Incorrect with modern cameras. If I have both my Nikon in my hand and my phone - I can take a picture with the Nikon WAY faster and more reliable than my iPhone. The Nikon can go from off to taking a picture in half a second. The phone you need to press the camera button on the lock screen for a full second before the camera app even launches. Then it takes it a little time to launch the app and warm up the camera.
Are either slow or problematic? No. But the Nikon is way more reliable, sometimes the iphone just derps out.
> useless tiny batteries
Again, I suppose it depends on the camera. My Nikon is rated for a thousand shots a battery, I think? Even my smallest and oldest handheld is rated for 300 shots a battery. Unless you're going way crazy, that is a lot of photos in a single day. It'd run down your iPhone quite significantly as well.
One area that is a big difference overall... Video.
You will generally be able to turn on the camera more quickly than you can navigate to the camera app. (Physical switch plus sub one second time to turn on).
So: with my EVIL camera I also can be taking a photo about as fast as I can raise the camera.
A camera is far faster in "startup time" (there's nothing to start up, just press the shutter to take a photo). And a DSLR will outlast battery life of a phone at least 100x.
No, the DSLRs can be left permanently on. It consumes nearly no battery in that state (a single charge will last many months) and yet it's always ready to take a photo as fast as you can grab it.
I had building security guards question me when I took a picture of their building (From the sidewalk).
I had mall security (outdoor mall) demand I cease and desist and get a permit.
I had transit workers threaten to call the police on me, even though photography is legal on public transit AND explicitly allowed in that particular transit agencies policies.
In 2008 the iPhone (original) was just out and had potato for camera, so everyone was still using SLR's and "normal cameras". But yet... people still got upset.
Yes. It seems the social memory of this is being lost, but I heard LOTS of stories back then of people getting upset at someone with a camera. And also earlier, before smartphones even existed. The idea that it's the existence of smartphones that's made people defensive about cameras seems to be merely plausible but not actually true.
What? I would never trust my photos to automatically go to some cloud storage. Who knows who would have access to them?
Instead I download the photos from all the family phones on a regular basis. I copy them to an external drive in my house. Then they backed up to a cloud service, but they are encrypted before they are backed up and the cloud service is only a backup. We can't actually see the photos on that cloud service. It is just fire protection (and yes, I have pulled the photos and videos back down from the cloud service to make sure it is backing them up correctly).
Can take photos with the Nikon and beam them to my phone fairly quickly. Is it as quick and seamless as using the iPhone directly? Nope. But good enough that I'm ok with it now. It also gives me access to typically a much higher quality photo that I can crop way farther than I can with the iPhone.
Nailed the pager, voice recorder and related markets as well.
Where X has been things like keyboard, screen, disk drives, modem (now network adapter), speakers, microphone. All were originally separate devices. For historical reasons we now call hand computers phones, but the basic insight that these things just voraciously absorb peripheral and related functions is still just as true.
Recently, I've been wondering why the name "phone" has stuck around for a device that has evolved with many more features than that of a telephone. I'm not going to pretend I know a lot about the history of these technologies, but I just find it fascinating that we've kept this identification to something that really provides so many core utilities. I'm curious to know more about the historical implications you alluded to.
Alternatively (and maybe quite a stretch), could I argue that our smartphones are just providing telecommunications to other services, namely, the APIs that they interact with to serve us things like GPS functionality, audio, etc., hence the name "phone"?
You use the phone to talk, chat, post, share, get directions to see other people, take photos of people, etc.
To technical folks, a computer is a device with a CPU that can process data and make decisions based on that data. So smartphones are computers.
To nontechnical folks before the late 2000s, a computer was a device that ran Windows or macOS with a screen and keyboard, and you use it to do spreadsheets, word processing, and such. A phone was a device that connected you to your social world via voice and later text communications. So when smartphones emerged, to nontechnical folks they looked and behaved more like phones -- social connectors -- than like computers, or information crunchers. So they got called phones.
It's like how the ancient Hebrews called whales and dolphins fish, despite those animals being classified as mammals under modern taxonomy. The Hebrews were going by how the animals looked and behaved and how people related to them, rather than genetic inheritance
They were marketed as a replacement and upgrade for the non-smart mobile phone you already had in your pocket. People had already adopted wireless devices that could make calls, send texts, play games and even access the internet in limited ways and those devices were called phones.
In a lot of Europe they're referred to as some translation of "mobile" (short for "mobile phone") which I've always liked as a more generic term.
Of course in Germany they call them a "Handy" (using English)
Well, bitch I could be. No profile pictures needed on HN.
And yet ... my profile says I'm a person with quite the digital presence on the 'net. I prefer that my impact be far larger than my fame.
Any portable device has been (or will soon be) replaced by "phones".
But now my smartphone is my LSD.
You'll read it on HN first!
Does that mean no encryption and no authentication by default?
The phone is a much better experience! Every time he had yet another issue, I wanted to be like "just use your phone!"
- Maps are out of date: Garmin required manual wired updates, Google Maps was always up to date
- Traffic costs: Garmin charged $10/mo for traffic data, Google Maps did it free
- Screen quality: Even in the early 2010's, smartphone screens were bigger and clearer than most car GPS units
- Attraction data: Google's was way more up to date than Garmin's third party attraction data, and Google quickly added multi-stop trips, business hours, busy-level of destination, etc
- Data Entry/voice: Google's voice entry and on screen keyboard were way better than Garmin
I was so happy when he got rid of that GPS and I finally got to stop supporting it.
Unless you're dumping ROMs yourself of games you own...
I can only imagine the product manager telling HW designers that nobody cares about audio latency, everyone uses Bluetooth anyway and damn this thing must be cheaper and ready for production yesterday.
But controller support in games is still niche because most people just aren't going to do it. I believe Apple enforces it for their Apple Arcade games, because those have to run on Apple TV too, but outside of that there just isn't much interest.
There are other devices, and other ways to measure the market size, but 114 million of anything is not a niche market.
> but there are a lot of heavyweight titles released for mobile platforms as well.
...like ? Every single mobile game that I found "good" usually launched on other platforms too.
Luckily OSM was more than happy to let me download it's maps.
Thanks to LEDs, flashlights are now cheaper, brighter and last longer than ever. Even cheap flashlights are better and more convenient than phones at lighting. Because they are cheap and small, you can have one in every place you might need it. And the slightly more expensive ones can be powerful enough as a substitue to mains powered light bulbs for places like garages and storerooms. Also, smartphones don't replace headlamps.
So maybe some people don't get a flashlight because they already have one on their phones, but some people (like me) actually buy more, because they are so cheap and effective.
Exactly my case. I have those for each bike, in every room, couple in my car and few in my basement office. I am a sucker for those.
Its a common thing with multitools, lots of uses, not great at any of them.
Watches have gotten less popular though.
Plus lock screen clocks rarely (never?) seem to come with a seconds display (even inside the full clock app I still need to flip a settings switch in order to turn the seconds display on) – while I don't necessarily need actual seconds accuracy that much, knowing whether it is xx:xx:05 or xx:xx:55 certainly does make a difference when I need to catch a train/tram/bus/… and am cutting it fine once again.
The least-believable part of this very silly movie was that, at the beginning, the main guy in it left his cell phone upstairs when he went to the dark basement to work on something in the house (pipes? I don't remember), which ended up causing the rest of the movie to happen. Of course he'd have taken it with him, for the flashlight if nothing else (and there are lots of other aspects of a smartphone that are super-handy when doing that kind of work).
Relatedly (sort of), I'm looking forward the day when they stop making movies whose storyline would be destroyed if the protagonist did the obvious thing and pick up the weapon used by their defeated attacker, so that they have a better defense against the next one.
fwiw, google maps has download & offline functionality. Click your profile icon top right and select the area you want offline. I use it all the time for backcountry hiking (along with OSM apps) and going abroad where I dont have data.
Antennas solutions are increasing to get cellular reception farther offshore that feed into a wifi router.
At anchor, I personally use Organic Maps and drop a pin after I'm properly at anchor. There are specialized "anchor watch" apps but this works for my purposes.
Sailing used to be so simple...
This takes 100-300MB per state--I use OsmAnd via F-Droid of course.
Have you tried this recently? I just did a family vacation in Death Valley and used Google Maps offline exclusively. Search worked fine.
OsmAnd+ is the only sane option for reliable offline maps w/navigation on smartphones, IMO.
It's a niche that's keeping them afloat.
The first time I used it, was for a drive that Google tells me is 2 hour/100 mile. It initially gave me a route that was 1:58 and 120 miles. I personally don't think driving an extra 20 miles is worth saving 2 minutes so I switched it to most efficient route which worked for that drive.
The next time I used it though was for a drive that should've been 30 minutes/30 miles. It gave me a route that was an hour long on back roads that saved me like a mile of driving. This time, saving a mile of driving isn't worth adding 30 minutes of time for me so I just gave up.
There really needs to be a mode that finds a compromise between route time, route distance, and route complexity instead of just optimizing for one and ignoring the others.
I also went ahead and downloaded organic maps just to see how it does in comparison. It also did well on the previously mentioned routes but doesn't give you alternative route options which makes me nervous about it giving a questionable route in other cases. It also takes several seconds to find the route (OsmAnd also took a while iirc) while Magic Earth was nearly instant to give directions. I do like the UI a bit better than Magic Earth (I can't find a way on magic earth to just give me a top down map view that keeps north at the top of the screen which is driving me crazy) but will probably use Magic Earth since it's seems really great in every other way.
- MagicEarth has a 2D view, it's in the Settings. Navigation is always track-up if I'm correct, not north-up.
I was pleasantly surprised how polished it is (on iOS at least). I had only ever tried OSM AND before it and this is leagues ahead in terms of usability. It’s more or less as good as Google Maps or Apple Maps, short of real time traffic updates. It’s navigation routing is not quite as advanced either, but it does the trick in a pinch (I don’t use it much in the car but more for searching and hiking trails)
Since the rewrite, it's missing features and is rather ... bleh.
This warning activity was tested in court and found to be illegal, as interference with the police undertaking their duties. Their response to the judgement was to switch the warning method to NOT saluting members if they're approaching a speed trap because apparently they couldn't be found culpable for inaction. So they would only salute members if the coast was clear. A bit like a warrant canary.
It kind of works as deterrent, although I expect that the effect wears off after a while.
- A series of 80-60 speed changes on straight road, then just when you are annoyed and don't slow, there is a speed trap.
- Badly marked school zone, I was doing 40km/h already, then a black painted camera hidden in bushes caught me.
This probably varies country by country, depending on whether it's a money-making exercise (where the police try to hide) or safety (where cameras are painted bright yellow and the police are clearly visible)
I guess the future of speed traps is "section control", e.g. install cameras at beginning and end of a speed-restricted stretch, and if the time you needed is significantly below the expected one with legal speed, you get a ticket.
This has been common in Western Europe for decades now.
But it would be political suicide.
I often use OSMAnd software for GPS. Works offline just fine.
You can get a Fuji X-E4 + XC 35mm f/2 for ~US$1000 new, and I'm yet to see a phone camera that can shoot something like this https://img.photographyblog.com/reviews/fujifilm_xc_35mm_f2/... - it's an enjoyable setup that will continue being ahead of any flagship phones for years to come. Not to mention that it's a hell of a rabbit hole and a great hobby.
On the other hand, my old Pixel 3a delivers much better dynamic range in low-light situations with its HDR mode. (Of course, it only looks good on the phone, not on the computer screen, but I sometimes wish the Fuji hat better HDR.)
Here's an early-morning photo taken with the Fuji: https://tmp.dbrgn.ch/DSCF7064.JPG (Either DR200 or DR400, not sure anymore). And here with the Pixel 3a: https://tmp.dbrgn.ch/PXL_20220709_033446459.jpg Of course, the photo taken with the smartphone has lots of artifacts, looks mushy when zoomed in, and the optical quality is far from the Fuji. In other words, it looks good on the phone, but not on a computer screen. But considering the differences in sensor size, it's still very impressive. (Fuji also has a built-in HDR mode, but so far I wasn't fond of the results.)
I agree, it's really fun though. Never had great gear, but I used to just drive around my town with a tiny pocket tripod trying to find new spots to shoot with my Canon SX260HS in 2012-2013. Spent some time with borrowed cameras in school a bit later too. There's definitely something soothing about just going around looking at things that look interesting, point, tweak, click, then rediscovering the whole thing on your PC for some editing later. The experience is kind of lost with how instant picture taking has become with phones basically just taking the shot and post-processing it however they like.
Also most folks these days consume photographs on their smartphones and not on larger screen devices.
I’m a prosumer photographer with a fairly sizable collection of high end Canon glass, and I now vastly prefer my iphone (since the 13pro) to my SLR setup
For what type of photography? Seems hard to imagine you'd "prefer" your phone over a nice lenses, but I guess it's less hassle to just use the phone?
They can't make film quickly enough.
I'm too lazy to get my DSLR out of the closet but here's a F1.8 shot from a Sony RX100
And here's the same shot from my iPhone in portrait mode set to 2 different levels of fake bokeh
On top of which, most people look at photos on their phones, not blown up to poster size in some art gallery
Outside, on a clear day? My iPhone rivals my Sony A7ii for SURE.
But in less than ideal situations, I can still do better with the Sony. BUT this is because I'm an enthusiastic amateur with pro-level tools and some modicum of know-how. For an average Joe, those things are probably lacking.
Not so bad IMHO.
Edit: this one is more pronounced, again not in portrait mode.
> If I want to put an artistic touch on my photos, I'll use an app that gives me blurs and a million other options
most of them wont do it correctly. You need to have full understanding of the debpth to do it which does not seem to work well. E.g look at the edges of the articifical bokeh usually the subject wont be separated properly..
I don't see how that's more 'correct,' by anyone's definition. It's pretty common to go for wider depth of field for landscapes and a lot of portraits.
I think we're going to see a slow gradual rise in small compact cameras making a comeback, just like vinyl. Phone cameras can only do so much, it's physics, and photography popularity has grown since kids now are born in a world where a phone has a great camera.
If portability is not a concern, you can pick up used high end Nikon DSLRs and F mount lenses very cheaply right now. Nikon is going all in on mirrorless now so this stuff is "last gen" hence cheap.
Otherwise, just avoid Canon. Theyre becoming increaingly scummy and you probably dont wanna get caught locked into their system.
The Panasonic GX80 is smaller and has interchangeable lenses. It has a smaller sensor but it's so small you can really carry it everywhere. I use it much more than the Fuji now.
i have a x100v and like it a lot. have shot over 9000 photos so far with it
- size: The Ricoh is actually pocketable. Now every time I go out, I have it in my pants or jacket pocket.
- snap focus and snap distance priority: a godsend for street photography.
- convenience and speed: since I usually have it on hand, and by default on snap distance priority, it takes me a littler over 1 second to turn the camera on and snap a picture.
That said, I did order a Fuji x100v so my wife and I can both have a camera with us when we go out. Also, they are different as you mentioned
A real camera has better ergonomics, great for vacations as you don't have to worry about your phone's battery life. Very good low light performance.
No science fiction story I ever read said anything like "It was dark, but it was okay, because I had my personal cellular internet communications device"
Modern flashlights are insane, they can even be dangerous haha.
of note: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2I_fW0dhZn8&ab_channel=Insid...
Tell me about it. I tried to find a flashlight for my 2yo son that he could stare into without hurting his eyes. There are none. I need to find a old light bulb one somewhere in some basement.
I gotta sell it but keep procrastinating.. 99% of the time these days I just want to not carry stuff and use my iPhone 13 Pro, because 99% of the time nobody cares if I use the fancy camera stuff and the hassle and workflow is a PITA compared to just using the phone. My previous phone was an iPhone 8+ and it kind of started this and then the 13 Pro really really kicked it into gear with having the 3 lenses.
It got hard for me to justify not shooting RAW if I was using all that expensive gear, and then I'd have to sit there wasting time "processing" files to justify using all the fancy gear. I came to really hate that time in front of the computer. (This is after about 15 years of doing it.)
Actual compact cameras forget about it.. the last few generations I had weren't even as good as the phones, because they almost always had crappy zoom lenses. 3 Prime lenses on a good smartphone beats almost all the zoom compact cameras until the zoom compact cameras get annoying to carry.
The phone cameras also have a massive advantage that people are not threatened by them and act more naturally. If you mostly value your pictures of people in your life this is a big advantage.
For me some of this is the ebb and flow of hobbies, but I really don't care about the snob value of the image attributes only possible with a DSLR/MILC anymore.
Sony/Minolta one this game by getting their camera tech/products into most of the smartphones on the market. Kudos to Sony.
That and actual lighting from real flashes (I'm talking multiple flash sources, etc) seem to be the main thing that "real" cameras have left.
At this rate, I see actual silver prints making a comeback for the same reason as vinyl. At least we know they will last a century while your selfie will be forgotten as soon as your "friend" starts a political argument on your Facebook feed.
I don't know if I agree with this. I've taken some great pictures on vacations, and with friends and family using my phone. I have some of these framed around the house.
I don't think the average person is capable (or really cares that much) about getting the perfect composition. For these people, a phone is a great substitue to a compact camera that would have been used 10+ years ago.
Oh, also most phones have a burst mode that works great.
Also, with dedicated cameras being garage sale fodder now, you can inexpensively get another feature that the smart phones just don't have: Zoom! My current "daily driver" is a Canon SX210 with pretty good picture quality at 14x zoom and image stabilization to make it practical. And still pocketable.
That said, 50% of my photos are still with the phone these days, just for instant sharing or geotagging.
At its peak in 1920 the total horse+mule population was ~25M when the US population was 102M. Or 1 horse for every 4 people.
Although counts vary, there are 9M horses in the US today which has 330M people. Or 1 horse for every 36 people.
(population counts from US census)
Horse numbers from: http://www.cowboyway.com/What/HorsePopulation.htm
Recreation 42%, Showing/Competition 29%, Other 19%, Racing 9%.
The recreation category itself is broad:
> One woman’s recreational horse is in the trailer and on the go to a
trail ride here, an overnight camping adventure there, and a special training clinic way out there, week in and week out. Another woman’s recreational horse is one of a half dozen at her home, and she might get a saddle on and ride over to the neighbor’s place a couple of times a month, if she is lucky enough to squeeze in some time for it.
> With horses, recreation can be just about anything you please, from primping and pampering to roughing it in the outback; from a zen-like search for the perfect circle or half pass (a lateral movement in dressage) to the discovery of inner peace as a volunteer in a therapeutic-riding program. The joiners have plenty of equestrian organizations, local to national, to add some socializing to the picture. The reclusive types can ride off into the sunset on solitary trails.
> That is a major appeal of horse involvement—something for everyone. And for a surprising number, the something is tending to their horses at least twice daily, forking manure and heaving hay bales; worrying over ailments, injuries, and feeds bills 365 days of the year; and having little time left over to actually use the animals. They do this year after year, and, when asked what they do with their horses, the answer is “just for pleasure.”
It does take amazing portrait pictures! And better pictures using indirect flash in low-light conditions. But video is pretty bad unfortunately - mirrorless cameras fix the focusing issue but they were not as easily available back when I bought my camera.
I struggle to remember the last time I felt a need to take my mirrorless camera with me and I think it'd be a bit weird to take it with me on my daily commutes or when I'm meeting a friend for coffee or whatever.
When I didn't have a DSLR I was taking a lot of pictures on my phone. Since I got one a few years ago, I almost never take phone pictures anymore (even if I don't have the DSLR with me), because I know the quality will be subpar.
Why even bother taking a picture that will look awful when looked at on anything bigger than a smartphone screen?
Panasonic LUMIX, is that you?
My X100V is awesome. But there are definitely rough edges, particularly around the functions that interface with my phone. This should be bread and butter for cameras these days, but sadly it's still a fairly slow and sometimes buggy process to get photos from my camera to my phone, or to use my phone as a remote control.
As for the camera interface and features itself, they're fine, but there are seemingly weird limitations. Only 7 custom simulations? No option to apply a custom sim after I've taken a photo? And the locked down nature is pretty annoying. I know that there are Android based cameras which opens up a whole can of worms, but there's money to be made with a camera that can leverage the wisdom and ingenuity of the internet to provide upgradeable features. Especially when camera lifecycles are pretty long, you're not cannabilizing your own market if you let people provide custom paid film sims that I can directly load into my camera
A few companies have tried to build underwater housings for smartphones but they don't work very well. Too hard to control the touch screen, and they don't work with external strobes.
Larger mirrorless cameras seem to still be going strong (for now). But the underwater housings are much more bulky and expensive.
We can't rewind, we've gone too far
Pictures came and broke your heart
Put the blame on VCR
Surprisingly, picture quality was on par. Low-light, stabilization, everything. I sold my DSLR since.
APS-C sensors aren't relevant anymore, only full-frames can beat smartphones nowadays.
I have both a X-Pro 3 and a X-T30 for street photography and both shoot much, much superior pictures than any smartphone is capable of...
APS-C is still pretty relevant, your old DSLR might not be up to par to latest smartphone cameras though. And the image processing done by smartphones using AI tend to create weird and ugly artefacts depending on conditions, that doesn't happen with my mirrorless cameras, for example.
Have you tried printing smartphone pictures and compare them to your DSLR shots?
- The X-Pro 3 is $2k, not what I call middle-end.
- I agree on the aggressive AI processing. Fortunately I could disable it.
- It was a Nikon D5500. I used the 18-55 kit lens, but f/1.8 prime lenses can do better indeed, at the cost of switching lenses all day.
- I compared on my 27" screen, no difference, even in low-light scenarios and at different ISOs
But once you take RAW photos and hit the Auto button in Lightroom, the Pixel doesn't hold a chance against the D5300.
The D5300 is pretty old, I had one in 2013-2014, coming from a D3200.
> - I compared on my 27" screen, no difference, even in low-light scenarios and at different ISOs
This might be the main difference between us, I usually do prints in A3+ sizes and the differences in picture quality between a smartphone and my cameras are very noticeable.
The A72 and D5500 have the same used price.
Again, I understand the price point but it's an oddball comparison. Perhaps a comparison between the A72 and a Fujifilm X-E2 could tell us more but I don't have either devices to directly compare myself :/
Because people who find their 2022 smartphone outperforming their 2015 DSLR don't upgrade to a 2022 DSLR.
Did you do a real image diff on the same setup? I doubt it. Phone cameras have come a long, long way but a lot of the advances are through "smoothing" things out through software.
I've done 6 years of professional photography to pay for college. Portrait shoots, weddings, even produced videos, ads, festivals, wildlife documentaries. I worked on Nikon D4S fullframes. How is my age relevant ?
My point is, professionals squeeze extra juice of the hardware, but the average consumer does not.
Fuji uses the same sensors on many cameras, you can get an xt-2 or xe-3 for much cheaper, with the same sensor
For me it's the opposite, show how smartphones are better than the current crop of mirrorless APS-C as this is the extraordinary claim requiring evidence.
When I get some time I might shoot some comparison pictures, but if I don't: remember that I'm not here to serve your demands, I'm sorry.
I have used an iPhone SE and a mirrorless M4/3 camera to photograph a sheet of paper containing barcodes of varying sizes (including some with bars less than 1 pixel wide). I then checked which barcodes were readable in the resulting image.
The light levels were the same, both cameras were positioned and zoomed so the target took up the entire image, and both cameras were supported on a tripod.
I expected the M4/3 camera would blow the iPhone out of the water with its much larger lens, bigger sensor, and higher price. But no, the iPhone's image had marginally more readable barcodes.
Modern smartphone camera performance is just crazy, for the sensor size.
Protocol: handheld at 10 PM, 10 shots each, at different ISOs, picked the best one
The bottlenecks are different, but the sharpness is comparable.
- The DSLR was limited by optics, it's blurrier with some chromatic aberration
- The Phone has strong AI processing, I wish I disabled it
Depends on what you need, of course, but for most people the photo from the phone is superior.
It's still over-sharpened and probably used multiple shots to get high dynamic range, it's much more noisy too, and shows less resolution
Also the d5500 is a lower tier camera from 2015, the phone was released in 2021
Yes there's HDR bracketing, but we only care about the result.
One is blurry (optics), the other has artifacts (AI), but overall sharpness is similar.
Almost certainly this is not true. It seems far more likely to me that perceived image quality after in device post processing was similar.
A lot of the quality of smartphone cameras comes from their software, which does a really good job at using the sensor data to create good images.
Cameras sold to photographers do not do that, or not as much. This is by design, if you are a photographer (someone who is interested in the process of photography) these corrections are something you really do not want, as they remove your ability to manually control these corrections later.
You are actually comparing two different types of images and it is quite unsurprising that the DSLR did not "win".
Instead of shooting at 1/8 or 1/15 in low light it could "just" shoot images at 1/125 or even 1/1000 then compensate for minute movements of the camera to get perfect sharpness, and then merge them to denoise it, and boom, near-noise-free, near blur free (just the blur from target movement, not the photographer) image in low-light.
>Instead of shooting at 1/8 or 1/15 in low light it could "just" shoot images at 1/125 or even 1/1000 then compensate for minute movements of the camera to get perfect sharpness, and then merge them to denoise it, and boom, near-noise-free, near blur free (just the blur from target movement, not the photographer) image in low-light.
There is absolutely nothing stopping a DSLR or large format camera user from doing exactly that. This is also a very common procedure in astro photography where dozens of such photos are stacked to capture objects in the sky.
This doesn't happen on the camera of course, but a photographer wouldn't want it to happen anyways.
I think you entirely missed the point of a digital large format camera. The user does not want the camera doing post processing. The user wants the camera to capture technically excellent images and process them manually.
The difference between a phone and a large format camera in this case is that the photographer can choose to take such a photo and he can process it on a high performance machine with manual intervention. This is absolutely not a problem with the camera.
I want this, I don't want to spend time in front of a laptop doing post processing.
The intersection of people who want to spend a significant of money on something they already have (a camera) to get a version which allows them fine grained control and technically excellent results, but then don't care how the results are processed after they pressed the shutter is almost zero.
A modern large format camera is for people interested in photography. If you do not care about photography, but care about getting decent enough pictures with each press on the capture button, those cameras are not for you.
I won't tell you what to do or don't but that market segment is probably not very large...
But that is hardly a shocker ... when will we get better desktop tools to recomupte photos?
As I said. This is by design.
>when will we get better desktop tools to recomupte photos?
Lightroom has already various AI features. What can lightroom not control manually what Google does automatically.
Darktable is the FOSS alternative, although not as advanced.
https://skylum.com/luminar-ai is probably the closest I have seen
The camera itself. Smartphones shoot several frames with different settings at different times, they may have a time of flight sensor to estimate distance, plenoptic features, etc... These can be fed into algorithms specifically trained on that camera and that can take advantage of all these extra data.
DSLRs can do things like bracketing, but external software doesn't have nearly as much control.
People just want pictures that look good. I don't want to shoot bracketed shots then combine them together in photoshop so I can get the same dynamic range as my phone. I don't want to take 20 pictures at a time of my kids hoping to get that one moment where they looked at the camera when my Iphone has live photo mode.
All r&d is being developed for the small sensor sizes. New stacked CMOS sensors will come to phones first because that is where the money is at. Phone cameras next year may surpass capabilities of mirrorless/dslr cameras in terms of dynamic range with a single picture.
I really don't understand why camera manufactures aren't investing in software. What they are doing now isn't working. I am planning to go on vacation for the winter holiday and this may be first year in a long time that i don't bring my dedicated camera(right now a Sony A7III) because my IPhone 14 just takes good pictures.
Some of them are. Olympus (now OM System) in particular has been emphasizing in-camera stacking features that take advantage of the fast sensor readout and very effective image stabilization they can achieve with a smaller sensor than most.
Those features aren't like the smartphone magic "make my picture look good" though. They're more manual and creative than that, like "let me take long exposures in bright light without filters" or "I want to paint light onto this dark scene with a flashlight". They produce a sort of raw file (it's obviously not simple raw sensor data at this point) suitable for further manual processing if desired. People not taking photography seriously as a job or an art form won't get much out of that, and most everyone else prefers the convenience of a phone.
That’s just what they said. The purpose of cameras is to produce images we find pleasing, for a few different values of “pleasing” (recording memories, aesthetics, etc).
Nobody cares about the “how”. Whether it’s a photographer with an MFA doing pixel-by-pixel adjustments on a RAW image or an algorithm in an ISP, nobody cares.
Ok, not nobody, but no casual user, which is 99.99% of the market. For most of us, we take a picture and look at the picture. Insisting that one technology is better even though it produces no user benefit is missing the point.
That's kind of my point. If you just care about getting a good enough result you do not want a camera which is producing images which are good on a technical level. And comparing technically good images to post processed images is essentially pointless.
I am not sure about the 0.01% every person who ever used lightroom or similar software has wanted something from a picture their camera did not give them. And even if the number is correct, there still are people who see photography as a creative endeavour and who want images which are easy to edit and not heavily preprocessed. If you aren't one of them your phone is likely more than good enough already and there is nothing wrong with that.
This article is about the general public, not us, the HN crowd which love to push hardware to the limit. Which is the historical definition of hacking btw :)
Not to mention that phones have awful ergonomics.
(I use an RX-0, which at first glance seems to fit that bill, but doesn't really: it's an extremely small movie camera that only pretends to be a very small compact for addressing a wider audience than it deserves)
To be sure though, out of convenience I pretty much only take my phone on vacations. (Well, and an old medium-format TLR film camera just for the odd novelty photo — but it only ever leaves the van when I think I have a subject best suited for it. Oh, ha ha, and I have a stereo digital camera in the glove box that gets similar treatment.)
The other two lenses have 1/3.5" and 1/2.55" sensors.
All cameras (compact to SLR does post processing) other than for RAW format. And infact even for RAW format SLR cannot beat modern flagship phones  .
 Apple ProRAW https://support.apple.com/en-in/guide/iphone/iphae1e882a3/io...
 Samsung's 'Expert RAW' https://www.androidauthority.com/how-to-use-samsung-expert-r...
Total nonsense. Of course a modern medium or full format camera outperforms any phone on technical aspects.
Understanding Apple ProRAW
ProRAW has one more surprise up its sleeve. A few years ago, Apple began using neural networks to detect interesting parts of an image, such as eyes and hair. Apple uses this to, say, add sharpening to only clouds in the sky. Sharping faces would be quite unflattering.
ProRAW files contain these maps!
Of all the dumb things in this thread, this has to be the pinnacle!
(Clouds are inherently fuzzy)
What is described is those article is the same as a normal raw that DLSR have been doing for decades. Adding the word "expert" or "apple" in front of the name doesn't make your RAW files magically better.
The only advantage for the smartphone here is that it's more user-friendly to edit the RAW files directly on the phone in one click compared to importing your photos in a software like Photoshop Lightroom
But sharing the pictures is a pain, the UI is hard for beginners. And the most important ergonomic of all : it's easier to grab my phone than the 1-pound DSLR.
Even Canon and Nikon abandoned the DSLR format, the digital photography world has embraced mirrorless, it's much more compact and the only thing you lose is the analog viewfinder through the mirror. For me it wasn't a loss at all.
I've been a hobby photographer for almost 15 years, had DSLRs, full-frames and ended on mirrorless exactly because I needed something compact and light to carry around.
That said, I don’t have the experience of phones being "good enough", and even my Sony RX100 (edit: was "RX1", my bad) first gen which is quite old is out-performing 99% of the smartphone market in picture quality on a good screen, if you exclude HDR.
The smartphone does pretty well in most other situations that don't involve fast movement in poor lighting.
Sometimes my Pixel 4a renders something which looks decent, sometimes it gives me oversharpened photos with unnatural colors, like the iphone photo. Let's not even mention the AI generated fake details, which look horrible to me 99.99% of the time.
If only they weren't so anti-repair as to heavily glue their batteries in.
Even my ~15 years old Nikon D40 easily beats my 2022 phone in photo quality.
Better lenses are more expensive than my phone though.
Yet at the same time, I hate holding it out to look at the screen to see what the photo will be as I take a photo. A camera with an eyepiece lets you hold it tight to your face, locking your arms at your side, and decrease any wobbling of the camera due to body position. That makes it easier to focus (and I actually can use a manual focus), zoom, and track moving targets, and gives you a bit more flexibility on settings for the shot.
Not that compact cameras solved any of that particularly well, either. But I'm keeping my dedicated cameras until phones figure out better ergonomics for those of us who grew up being used to that level of control.
* Flashlights? Sure a smart phone is not a good flash light but it's often enough
* paper notebooks? I'm just guessing the majority of people keep notes on their phone, probably cloud backed so they can access them on their tablets/notebooks/phones
* video cameras? The article was about compact cameras but I have to imagine no one buys a video camera anymore
* mp3 players
Maybe less need for mirrors, lint rollers, and large make-up kits with similar colors (maybe it's easier to adjust the tint in the photo?).
Only if you squint and accept streaming and/or webradio as a replacement for "real" AM/FM radio. Funnily enough the ubiquitous Qualcomm chipsets already include a radio receiver, but most manufacturers don't activate it...
I think "AM/FM" radio is really just the equivalent of "free music you can stream".
It's paradoxical how "flagship" devices have less features for more money.
What I claimed is that the category "cheap android phones with all the ports and features" beats the category of "ultra-high-end devices without any reasonable ports" by far.
Flagship phones are halo devices, more jewelry than actual phones (this includes iPhones, the Pixel main line, the galaxy fold series, the S22 ultra, etc).
The vast majority of sales is in the mid range, including the Google Pixel A series (which still kept e.g., the 3.5mm port until last year) or most of Xiaomi or Huaweis phones.
But while with flagships, there's the one device to rule them all, in the midrange there's a different phone for everyone. Samsung alone has almost a hubdred different devices in this range at the same time.
And all of these have microSD, 3.5mm, FM Radio support, and many dual SIM support.
That US$1600 Tandy 1600 runs a 286 CPU and has a 20MB hard drive, and supported 640×200×16 resolution (720×350 mode for monochrome monitors):
What kind of computer can you get nowadays for $1600?
Barry Ritholtz's take is also interesting:
> But Inflation is not inevitable. There are numerous countervailing forces that have been at work for much of the past 50 years. The three big Deflation drivers: 1) Technology, which creates massive economies of scale, especially in digital products (e.g., Software); 2) Robotics/Automation, which efficiently create more physical goods at lower prices; and 3) Globalization and Labor Arbitrage, which sends work to lower cost regions, making goods and services less expensive.
If apple starts letting us swap the glass out one day we might be have a fight but currently I just dont see it being one at all.
On a less nitpicky note, I think the failure to deliver a compact camera at a reasonable price in the 2004-2008 time period did a lot of damage too. The low-end models were junk, and the good ones cost, I believe, at least $250.
It's a shame because digital cameras can serve some specialist purposes that phones simply can't. I have a camera that can shoot Full HD @ 960fps. I have another with a 200x optical zoom (this is not compact). And another that's waterproof to like 30 meters. I also have another compact camera with a 20x optical zoom.
But I really feel like manufacturers have failed to innovate in the smartphone era. It should be trivial (ideally, seamless) to save photos to your phone. Various implementations for this are just bad like one camera I have is a Wifi AP and you have to connect to it. They usually require running custom software, which is typically just bad.
I'd also like to be able to put a camera on a mount where I can remotely turn and tilt it, focus and zoom.
For years photographers have said the best camera is the one you have and it's true. That's why smartphones destroyed this market. But manufacturers didn't really do that much to close the usability gap.
I wanted one because I don't want my nice-photo-taking tied to my phone, I don't want that to be a consideration every time I buy a phone, and I don't otherwise need an expensive phone (my last few have cost <£200 and been kept years each, I don't play games or do anything intensive with it). I'd rather have a ~£200 compact camera and a ~£200 phone, with independent replacement cycles, than a ~£400 phone (that would be a much less capable camera, though admittedly the software editing/ML stuff for amateur stuff (which I definitely am, I just want holiday/walk snaps etc.) is quite nice these days). I settled on a used but pretty mint condition Panasonic TZ100, and can keep using my Nokia 3.4 a while longer. (Though it does reboot itself multiple times a day, so its days are still numbered.)
So the camera flash is obviously far superior to a phone flash but apart from that, my phone (Note 20 Ultra) dominates all the Olympus and Ricoh cameras I've had in recent years. When it's raining or foggy and I have to take a photo, I am forced to use my phone instead of the company supplied camera. If I need to do a video clip, again the phone is my go to. Looking towards the sun, same again.
If I could use my phone for all the photographic records I take at work then I would but I still rely on the form factor of the camera which is more resilient amongst tools and dirt and on-screen display which shows a sequential photo/filename reference that I can quickly note down.
How does a £1000 phone have such an incredible set of cameras which destroy the dedicated camera on a £300-400 digital compact?
Remember when Kodak thought that digital cameras are a fad so they didn't invest? Same thing happening with computational photography right now.
Film sales only fell off a cliff in 2006. 
The Kodak story as commonly told is something like "don't be stupid like Kodak". This is easily followed by the thought "I'm not that stupid, I'll be fine".
But the reality is much more nuanced and with a more important lesson.
- We have a product making big money
- In the (far?) future, this will probably change
- How fast?
- How much should we invest in capturing the next thing?
- Given the next thing is fundamentally far removed from what we did (chemicals -> electronics) should we even go there or divest and invest in something else entirely?
Kodak chose to go the digital camera way, but got eaten by electronic giant incumbents like Sony (with their sensors), Nikon and Canon. Yes, Canon and Nikon were already giants in electronics, since their cameras were electronic processor controlled since the 1980s.
Kodak eventually lost money on every Kodak digital camera sold. But even if that gamble had worked, they might have gotten eaten by smartphones just a few years later!
Business is just hard sometimes.
First try and the lighting wasn't great.
The article succinctly captures the responses of the companies, consumers, and the stock market. The lessons demonstrated by the relevant actors are ones I’ve carried with me in my own business work and shared with others when appropriate.
Jokes aside, I wonder how much of the computational photography in smartphones today is "hallucinating" and showing something perceptually nice versus photos that are physically accurate.
Something tells me that most users don't care about accuracy of the content as much as it looking nice, so I wouldn't be surprised to see faked optical zoom based on hallucination techniques soon.
When you hear "compact camera" think about like the Canon A40 and such - early 2000s. By the late 2000s they were already completely commodified with no margin left and the profit had moved to DSLRs (and later MILCs etc).
There was and is still a niche for "premium" compact cameras (Nikon coolpix, Ricoh GR, Fuji X100, etc) but the commodity market didn't get anything out of a standalone camera that couldn't be done better by something else, and if you're already carrying a smartphone anyway...
Generally, I agree though, that software for cameras is pretty poor compared to what it could be.
I wouldn’t know anybody who still uses a compact camera (but then, did I know 30 people who did in the time before smartphones?)
Huawei is apparently deleting footage of protests from people's phones too.
I have an Olympus E-M10 Mark III (terrible naming) and while the photos are obviously of a higher quality than a camera phone, camera phones can do wonders with photo stacking and HDR/night shots that would be even more amazing with a proper camera.
"But that's what photoshop is for", the naysayers say. I say, bollocks to that. If a budget smartphone can make these filters/optimizations accessible to the masses, then a DSLR can as well. Besides, they already try. My Olympus has an art filter menu, a "scenes" menu and so on, but they are opaque in what they are actually doing, not very flexible in adjustment, and overall can't achieve the customization of a smartphone.
If Sony et al bolted a detachable lens to an android device with a few programmable knobs and buttons, with wifi (not hotspot based) for instant uploading, I daresay it would be a hit.
What I would have liked to see smartphones makers match is option for removable battery in a flagship like phone.
Some vendors (Samsung included) have their line of rugged phones with removable batteries, these phones tend have a not so great screen, camera and often processor as well.
I have wanted to get rid of my smartphone and downgrade to something smaller and simpler. The one thing tying me to it is the camera. I use it on a regular basis to take quick photos of family or events around me.
If there were a compact camera on the market, I would happily carry around a phone and a separate camera in my pocket.
No such thing exists. Every so called "compact" camera is significantly larger, bulkier, and heavier than any phone on the market. I get it, they have optical zoom lenses and that takes up space. Most of the time I don't want that but there are no options for it. But even the body of the camera without the zoom lens is significantly thicker than a phone.
Near as I can tell, the dimensions of the compact camera have not changed since the last time I bought one, which would have been around 2006. The one thing I can say is that camera still works just as well as it did 16 years ago. Maybe new ones take better photos, but in the meantime, I've gone through probably a dozen different cell phones.
Sure would be nice to have a truly compact option though.
With lots of natural light (etc.) quality at non-Fullscreen, typical viewing resolution&size, was 'unnoticeably good'
I was very very surprised. I think a lot of people don't realise just how far tech has come (+the right photo/video-ography skills).
I really think we need to start separating our crucial digital identity/value from the thing we use to translate a menu or call 911 in an emergency or hand to a stranger to take a photo. Right now I use 2 phones to keep I kinda separated.
Google, Samsung, and others are catching up there and it won’t be long before the same is true, though they will probably have a greater proportion of devices without cell modems.
But only the beginning. We're going to be debating the question of "reality" a lot in the coming years. Surely, the next step in computational photography will be AI to fix your questionable shots.
You photograph the Eiffel tower, but there's a lot of people obfuscating it, the horizon isn't straight and the light ugly. One tap and it's fixed, if it even requires a tap.
You zoom in digitally to produce some blob of what is supposed to be a bird. Tap to fix it. And there you have it, a pro level shot without the 5kg 600mm lens.
Just like AI art generation, photography will be going through some deep questions. Did you actually photograph that? And if anybody can photograph anything with zero skill, what is the point?
In the past photography was optically pure shit, and we could only take 36 photos at a time before cranking out a new roll of film, and we had to drive to a photo store to pay to get those 36 photos developed and only them we could see if the photos were any good.
I still find errors in FAT32 implementation when it comes to cameras, while phones have moved on to get specialized formats depending on the storage chips' design.
Cameras' firmware are decades behind.
I wonder if this results in issues when you plug a card into Windows, which then 'fix' the incorrect FAT32 data structures on the disk, which again will be corrupted by the camera in new and interesting ways.
Does specialized format means you don't ever need to recover from them or noticeably less?
It makes my life harder because recovery has to be manually adjusted to work with the incorrect implementation.
It also makes the owners' life harder too. older file systems are not geared for chips and thrash the storage, making them fail significantly faster, be it removable or built-in.
> Does specialized format means you don't ever need to recover from them or noticeably less?
For my context, I recover them for forensics purposes. When I wrote "specialized format" (e.g., JFFS2, YaFFs, Target, F2F2, UBIFS) I was referring storage formats geared towards chip vs disk. mobile phones tend to be very easy to recover; almost plug-and-play. They are often are hardware modules where the entire storage can be removed, and connected through common, physical connectors to recovery device.
People just want Apple CarPlay. Not your manufacturers crappy radio UX.
Quality software is a discipline not every company gets right. And TBH, you see the difference between those that focus on software and UX as a craft, and those that don't.
Cameras have always depended on PCs to do capture. And since smartphones did not provide ways to do fast wireless transfer, it made a separate device even harder to use. My Sony mirrorless takes about 30 seconds to connect to iPhone using ad-hoc WiFi, and it's a bunch of work on both sides. So while I can sort of get from the camera to Instagram, it's way harder than it should be if the mobile device makers wanted it to work.
You won’t notice these things until you are familiar with pics from a dslr camera.
The guild of map makers allows to ship in materials that allow for the creation of a machine that provides maps for free, but would try to prevent the construction of said machine by legislation influence at all cost.
Which is begging the question, how does one ensure that the "protective" legislation always remains ineffective or gets devoured? Should protective laws always have a "lifetime"?
A camera with an open API is be great. Sony would only have to provide a basic app and somebody would create a great one for profit or for the fun of it. Sony would keep the money from the hardware sales. No idea if they have some cloud offering for cameras and if they profit from it.
I am specifically annoyed at how cameras have been sold in tiers, the same tech with upgrades as a different model.
Sell me instead a modular camera, upgradeable like a PC.
Barebones camera, no WiFi, no Bluetooth, basic screen, basic memory.
Expansions: Better case, wireless connectivity, memory upgrayyedd, better screen, optics module, bayonet adapter for lenses of your brand choice.
That sort of thing.
If you do it right, it will result in longevity of the brand, if you do it like Sony has done with all their cool products, then it will be limited and expensive, and nobody will really use it.
On the other hand, night mode works quite well and it's a camera you almost always have with you.
What Apple and others killed is the lowest possible segment. There's still a pretty healthy ecosystem of small-ish mirrorless cameras and, of course, DSLR, which you could buy if you need one.
I really like my Fujifilm and all the nice buttons it has. But one of the key advantages is that its photos simply look different from an iPhone.
In my opinion it's a very useful feature, but what I usually find in modern cameras is only the possibility to connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone, where I need to install an app to provide the coordinates to the camera for geotagging.
Then I see cheap low-end smartphones that have built-in support for GPS+Galileo+GLONASS+Beidou and I wonder how much would it cost to insert such electronics into a camera.
- leave the gps on all the time. This gets you a geotag but you have to charge your camera every day, like your phone.
- update the geotag when turned on, but use the previous location for any shots until there is a lock. This is ok for rough location but users aren’t going to like that the first picture of a trip has the wrong location if they don’t warm up the camera first.
- stay on after a picture is taken long enough to get a lock then rewrite the picture with the location. This works, unless you take the card out and hand it to someone before the rewrite.
Nabbing the location from the cell phone gets you a live location for free.
I wonder if there is still room on the edges of the prosumer market though to push more people into the big dedicated cameras.
Could a better camera OS, more digital photography, and quicker, sexier results, along the lines of what we see on iOS, combined with amazing sensors and glass, convert some people over?
Or are those numbers too small to be worth a try?
Join us for our panel discussion later where we will cover software eating everything.
He (photographer) explains the draw of decade-old digital cameras. Apparently not a lot of cash will get you some nice older digital cameras — some of them quite high-end for their day and, as he says, maybe even preferable to some of the more recent offerings.
I have to assume there's a good reason to not have done this.
- 5 X100s (2x T, 2x F, currently own a V)
- 2 X-Pro2s (one went to my younger cousin)
- 1 X-T2 (upgraded to an X-T3)
- 2 X70s (sold them - too heavy for a point-and-shoot, fantastic otherwise)
- 1 XF10
I don't think I will ever not have an X100. The XF10 on the other hand is always with me. In a second I can go from single-point auto-focus and -exposure to zone-focused slow-sync flash; the only other camera that's this usable, from my experience, is the Ricoh GR II. The immediacy of physical buttons and controls is something phones have yet to replicate.
They might release an updated version (called GRV given Japanese superstition around number 4?) in 2023 or 2024.
stands to reason, though, that for any given form factor if the device is dedicated to one task it will do it better than a similarly sized multi-purpose device (and one that, nota-bene, is primarily designed for and busy with collecting and sending user data back home).
both optics, ergonomics, battery life and compute / software could be far superior in a compact compared to a phone. so the 3% niche market remaining might evolve into some really cool cameras.
Day to day though, as a smartphone replacement... unless/until I need prescription lenses I don't think it's enough to make me want to start wearing glasses.
There are other possible input devices. For XR glasses, the most natural would be some sort of gaze tracking. Another option would be an indirect device like a mouse or trackpad (most desktop and laptop users don't point directly at things in their screens), or even a set of cursor keys for menu selection.
The changing fortunes of Japanese camera manufacturers