This image of the Oakland Bay Bridge was taken by David Gardner on an iPhone 4
This image of the Oakland Bay Bridge was taken by David Gardner on an iPhone 4

In 2011, smartphones continued to replace traditional point-and-shoot cameras as the default device of choice for recording still images and video, with the percentage of photos taken on smartphones rising from 17% in 2010 to 27% this year, according to NPD Group data concerning the United States.

The percentage of photos taken on traditional dedicated cameras fell by 8% between 2010 and 2011 to 44%. Last month, we reported that more images posted to Flickr were captured using the iPhone 4 than any other camera device.

There were, however, signs of growth in the detachable lens camera market segment, with unit output increasing by 12% this year. Budding amateurs are shifting away from normal point-and-shoot devices to DSLR or DSLR-like cameras as the main barrier to entry – price – continues to lower.

So why are smartphones replacing traditional cameras? Firstly, smartphone cameras are improving technically all the time and in most cases the quality of an image captured on a smartphone is comparable to that of an image taken with a lower-end point-and-shoot.

Secondly – availability. Smartphones are great at capturing spontaneous moments, often being the only available camera to hand.

It’s conceivable that the notion of a point-and-shoot as it’s currently known won’t exist in five years time. Continued improvements in smartphone camera technology will decrease the need for most consumers to purchase dedicated cameras, while budding amateurs will migrate to the expanding DLSR market.

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