R.I.P. the box of light1/8/2014
Most anyone older than 15 remembers the days of being on vacation and having to be very choosey when taking photos. With only 24 frames on a roll of film, every snap was sacred. Today smartphones have thankfully eradicated this experience, but in the process of liberating amateur photographers the world over, there is collateral damage. For all intents and purposes, the camera as the box of light we have known it to be is all but dead.
As anyone with an Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account can attest, taking pictures is more popular than ever. What’s changed is the use of actual cameras. 35-mm film? Extinct. Disposal cameras? Only found at weddings. Pocket-sized digital cameras? On life support. Without question, owning a stand-alone camera is becoming a thing of the past.
The victims of the camera-equipped phone couldn’t be any bigger. Two years ago, Kodak, the biggest name in photography, declared bankruptcy. In 2007 Polaroid discontinued its cameras, and its film a year later. By 2009, bankruptcy. Even the companies such as Canon and Nikon, which have thus far weathered the storm, are in danger due to phone cameras taking massive leaps in quality.
Last year Nokia made a huge splash with the Nokia Lumia 1020, a smartphone with a 41-megapixel camera. For the uninitiated, that may not mean much, but photographers can spend thousands of dollars on professional gear and not come close to that pixel density. While high-quality cameras come equipped with more than megapixels, the fact that phones are starting to outdo traditional cameras says a lot, in my opinion.
In the end, smartphones equipped with professional-level camera features are nice. But even more than that, they’re convenient. Smartphones fit in your pocket, offer instant photo-editing and sharing, and there’s no film to develop, which means no cost and no wait.
While the camera may be dead, long live the “camera.” CV
Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb.