Building on a piece that Managing Editor Julius Motal wrote recently is the idea that the point and shoot market is slowly dying out. Yes, it indeed is–but it’s really at specific levels. Superzooms, underwater and premium point and shoots seem to still be doing very well due to the way that they provide advantages over a phone. A larger sensor? Yup, that means better image quality potential (notice how we say potential because of the fact that it’s still about the content of the image that matters). A zooming lens? That can help you get so many photos that may be otherwise tough to do.
And like we saw with the National Geographic contest mentioned in Julius’s piece, this has been the status for years. Cameras and modern editing software are more than good enough in the right hands of a creative with a vision. Considering that many photographers make a living off of using their iPhone and Instagram, it makes sense. But this isn’t necessarily because the technology has become better.
Let’s think about this:
– The technology became better as time progressed
– Pop culture’s fascination for flawed photos with vintage looking filters exploded
The images that people began seeing lowered their standards in some ways and more because adequate enough for them. Combine this with large social media followings and the ability to reach out to a large crowd, and who cares about what the image looks like. The better the image is from a camera (technically speaking) the more people will usually be smitten for it.
Don’t believe us? Look at Instagram, or VSCO, or EyeEm or Hipstamatic.
While people like their vintage filters, the more nouveau in the culture seem to be moving back to the precise and carefully manufactured looks. This can’t be done easily by some programs yet–instead it takes careful processing and knowledge.
But many cameras these days are very capable of creating images that can very much suit the needs of a professional. In fact, some of these cameras have the same sensors as interchangeable lens cameras.
To call yourself a professional photographer years ago used to mean that you needed to have a Canon or Nikon along with lights and much more. On top of this, the most important thing is that you needed to be gaining most of your income from photography–and that part is still true today. Folks could fake it though for a while with just the gear and the smoke and mirrors bit. But that isn’t true anymore.
Does your client want incredible food photos? Why can’t you do it with a Sony point and shoot and a flash?
Maybe a news wire needs a news photos: head out with your Fujifilm X100s.
Let’s apply this to a more real world example. Here in NYC, we have a very popular blog that every local follows–it’s called Gothamist. For years, they’ve been using images from their Flickr group that sometimes replace the need for professional photographers because the work there is more than good enough for their needs.
The groups top Contributor is Joel Zimmer, who uses a Nikon D750 a lot as of late. But the second biggest contributor wields a Nikon D90. Yes, these are some powerful cameras–but for years they’ve also been incorporating images from mobile devices and point and shoots into their coverage of the news. Why? It works for the purposes when it comes from an editorial perspective and it builds a community that people keep coming back to and advertisers want to support.
Because of this convenience and the fact that images have become good enough for editorial use, we’ve dropped our standards–and so to that end many cameras that years ago wouldn’t be caught dead in the hands of a professional photographer are now all over the place.