The Camera World Gets Connected

I must admit to mixed feelings about the ongoing “connectedness” craze. On the one hand you have to admire technology that allows you to link the images in your camera with various mobile devices, convenient I am sure for some, and that now even lets you shoot and share at one touch of a button. On the other hand I am uncertain how this has anything to do with seeing and making quality images that speak to your instincts and feelings about the world around you. I note that some companies make this connected ability the headline of their new products, while others take it more in stride and list it as just another feature.

I think the latter perspective is probably what will become standard and that we will take this technology for granted in the years ahead. Witness the Canon 6D. But I also have to say that limiting yourself to JPEG shooting with mobile devices, and the lowest common denominator of JPEGs at that, makes this much less of an attractive feature to those who strive for image quality, not Facebook recognition. And physics are physics, and chip (and pixel) size still has a lot to do with image quality, despite the amazing image processors at work behind the scenes. Witness the abject quality of low-light scenes from mobile phones and the amazing strides in high ISO quality in real live cameras.

We have to face market realities that these “connected” features are an attempt by camera makers to stem the decline in lower-end point-and-shoots from the onslaught of mobile phone cameras. I do admit that Joe Farace’s admonition that photography should be fun is certainly adhered to with these devices. But fun has its limits, and when it comes down to making quality images I will take a real live camera over an iPhone-type device anytime. And it’s interesting to note that even while the app-athon continues to grow, and mobile imaging makes impressive strides, many camera makers have chosen the higher road of making full-frame cameras (somewhat) more affordable and producing mirrorless cameras that in my opinion will eventually take over the mid-range D-SLR market.

Photography should be fun. But fun is not just more gizmos and gee-gaws; it’s getting satisfaction from the images you make to print or just to share, regardless of the hardware you use to make them and how you end up using them. At Shutterbug we always emphasize image quality, but don’t mean to sound stodgy or snobbish about camera phones and their ilk. The camera you use is the camera you have with you when that moment to record a moment arrives. And while more and more folks do that with a “mobile device” these days, carrying around a camera that yields image quality too is what we recommend.