New Poll: Will smart phone cameras replace HDSLRs within 5 years?

by planetMitch23 Comments

I've been reading several interesting blog posts/tweets lately about the death of the DSLR via the surge in smart phones with high quality cameras so I thought I'd ask you what you thought…

I've included a couple of quotes below the poll to give you an idea of what some others are saying.

Poll Question!

[poll id=”12″]

Are Phones About To Wipe Out The Digital Camera Industry?

There is a revolution going on in the quality of photos coming from smart phones, and the improvement in quality is such that it could signal the end for the digital camera. A professional photographer might not agree but for a layman like myself, you can now take pictures on your phone that are every bit as good – if not better – than an expensive camera.

Phones have had the capability to take photos for many years now, but it’s only in the last year that they have caught up with digital cameras in terms of quality of images produced. For somebody who takes the odd picture, there’s no longer a need to have a digital camera and that has to be a big worry for the entire digital camera industry, especially when you consider the fact that phone cameras can only improve even further from here on in.

Stats Show Phones Are Taking Over

Flickr might not be the most cutting edge of social networks any more, but they do share the information on which cameras are used to upload photos onto the site. As you can see from the graphs below, the iPhone is by far the most popular camera and other smart phones are starting to follow suit.

Mark my words, the iPhone will be as widely used in the editorial world as the 5d Mk ii in a matter of years.

27% of Photos and Videos Now Captured on Smartphones [STUDY] [source: tweet from @photoJack]

(cover photo credit: snap from the article – I don't know where they got the image)


  1. I would argue the opposite is already true, we are seeing the camera as the foremost application in our lives, overtaking the telephone. Thus we are seeing compact cameras “with phone option” as the afterthought, whether they have high-end lenses attached, or full size grips, is a matter of price-point.

  2. Maybe we can leave short comments using our iPhone video and you can make a show out of it.

  3. I think they will take over point and shoots, but I don’t want them too.

    Though point and shoots don’t have great video quality, I’ve used a few before as cheaper cameras for a live event. I can put them in one place, and leave them running for 45 minutes without worrying about them, and at that price point, they are just as cheap as getting a small video camera with the same quality, so I might as well buy a camera that can be used to take some good photos when out and about without a DSLR.

    If I had a phone with quality as good, I would have to somehow find a way to mount it to a tripod. Low light would also have to be as good as well as optical zoom not the digital crap. I think it’d have to be a camera designed with a phone, rather than a phone designed with a camera – but thats just me.

    1 advantage I see of a phone over a HDSLRs, other than size for quick shooting, is app support, you can get many different shooting effects and layouts of buttons with a phone, and you are stuck with the default ones on a HDSLR – not so serious for a professional though.

    Sorry for the long post – Happy New Year 🙂

    1. Author

      Interesting idea Tyler – maybe camera makers should explore dumping that proprietary OS for the camera and getting something like the iOS or android where people could customize the camera interface! Brilliant!

      1. There is nothing that is stopping Android from being installed onto a camera, with wireless and possibly 3G connectivity (Similar to the tablet OS, where there is no phone part.) The camera manufacture would defiantly have to make their own custom camera app that offers a lot of features that a standard point and shoot has.

        The Samsung Galaxy C? C for camera 😉

  4. I want a 5d mark i that lets someone with an iPhone manipulate all of the features of the camera.

    Make the interface an SDK, and let anyone integrate it into their app. image preview would probably be slow, but the rest of it would work just fine.

  5. IMHO this will follow the audio path with MP3. CDs are still alive and well but ubiquity and convenience trump quality for almost eerything.

  6. Phone cameras will never replace HDSLRs. NEVER. It’s the difference between home movies and filmmaking. You can’t tell me a $200 point & shoot multi-purpose gadget will replace the optics and mechanics of a $5000 piece of equipment. You need the right tools to express your vision and visually represent what you want the viewer to see. The phone cameras are limited and therefore limit the types of stories you can visually tell.

  7. The measurements of the sensor and lens rule. The size and total weight of both devices makes it easier to integrate a phone into a HDSLR than the reverse. I think they are too distant ends to claim them together.
    Las medidas del sensor y las lens mandan. El tamaño y el peso totales de ambos dispositivos hace que sea más fácil integrar un teléfono en una HDSLR que lo contrario. Creo que son extremos demasiado distantes para pretender juntarlos.

  8. i-phones will no sooner supplant HDSLRs than HDSLRs have supplanted professional video systems. Each level of content production enjoys it’s own tool set to economically achieve it’s objectives. There is a time and a place for i-phone photography, and while it is a fad it will enjoy some recognition, but, when the novelty wears off, the market will settle back down into more comfortable striations. What may occur is, i-phones may make it possible for HDSLR shooters to finally take advantage of their niche and begin earning income within their chosen tool set by removing HDSLRs from the hands of bloggers and writer/producers. When a content producer just wants some pics, they will use their i-phones. When they want a better level of expertise, they will hire an HDSLR shooter to provide it, and so on up the chain of technology. This is the way a market reorganizes itself economically. We should look upon it as a relief. The right tool for the right job…

  9. The original article was written buy someone who knows very little about photography – the type of person who thinks a pro photog takes nice photos because they have a nice camera.

    As a pro photographer, I can take pretty nice pictures with my iPhone 3GS which has a pretty mediocre camera. Many I have taken are better than my friends’ consumer DSLR shots. The major difference is our utilization of light.

    I do see the possibility of camera phones replacing your typical point and shoot, but not DSLRs anytime soon.

  10. Maybe…the day you can use zoom and prime lenses, zoom control, follow focus units, matte boxes, filters, be able to use them on a good pro tripod or dolly, when you can show the image on a large monitor without visible noise and so on. Otherwise they’d be good for weekend You Tube “filmmakers” only. Mediocrity seems to be becoming the new standard (for some people anyway)…shoot everything with no lights, a built in mike or a small shotgun mike on top of the camera, no sense of composition, contrast or anything. Cinematography is an art, but we have a generation of film making wannabes who don’t think so. Even if I was forced to shoot with an I-Phone, I’d still use a small crew, lighting package, camera assistant, gaffer, grips, sound man etc. In the meantime, an I-phone is good enough to replace a little video camera or P&S and shoot the birthday party for your 3 year old.

    1. I agree with you Aron. There is a place for every image making device. The article says there are 2 shots done with an I-Phone, but I have not seen the preview they are talking about. I used an old Super 8 camera for “documentary family footage” for one film shot 35mm with a Panavision camera and it worked perfectly within the story, but for a $220 million dollar movie, I doubt that the I-Phone was used for any major sequence unless it was for an special look or effect. What I was referring to is that too many people today are basically in love with film making rather than with the art itself, and it’s just too damn easy today to press the record button and call yourself a film maker. I’ve been a working professional for 42 years in documentary, industrials, TV commercials, and 4 independent features. Even in my modest achievements, I’ve handled over $40 million in those jobs, and I still consider myself to be in the learning stage. My last 35mm project was a period piece, lots of extras, cars and large 1940s interiors, again 35mm with a Panavision camera and a small crew of about 30. Shot for 12 weeks. Film stock alone without processing was about $200k, camera rental about $100K. Sorry, but I don’t think I could have achieved the look and the visual quality the director wanted shooting with an I-Phone, no crew, no lights.

      1. LOL thats for sure Luis you cant get that with an iPhone. And it is funny you bring up the fact that people push record and call them self’s a film maker. I see this all the time. I to take pride in film making and I always use lighting and as much equipment I have available to make my art come alive. Although some people don’t have the budget to get good cameras so as you said for the YouTube crowd the iPhone will work. I just started a web series called TFX tv and the first 3 episodes are about the iPhone because people haven been asking me how I got some of my shots with it. But I will never replace my DSLR for an iPhone for professional work or even personal. Any way Luis nice talking to you if you want to see my stuff its take care.

  11. This is like the movie:”The Incredible Shrinking Man”, we will get smaller and smaller – dissolve back into our anus and slam the door and vanish. Cameramen want controls not mickey mouse. Watches went thro this phrase – nobody could use them. Simplicity and being able to control the camera in manual mode works every time. On auto you’re just a bloody tourist.

  12. Yes we must have manual. But as the title says
    ” within five years” who knows were technoligy will take cameras. I am curently waiting for the next full frame 🙂

  13. The picture is only as good as the lens.
    I do use my iPhone to shoot “Snapshots,” but not anything where quality matters.

  14. I feel like because smartphone cameras are becoming better and better, people are starting to become more involved with photography. A good smartphone camera is a gateway drug to “better” camera equipment.

    Currently the micro 4/3 cameras and interchangeable mirrorless cameras are aimed at that target market

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