Cameras and smartphones (with really good cameras) are working in ways to try to be more like one another. Smartphones are starting to shoot RAW more often, they’ve got lens systems, etc. But what have cameras become? They’ve got WiFi to transfer images to phones, some have apps that can improve them but otherwise the traditional digital camera hasn’t really changed. But if you look at mobile photography and social sharing culture, you’ll notice that the whole thing is really about fun.
In some ways, cameras just haven’t gotten there yet.
So what am I talking about?
Well let’s look at the most obvious example here: Instagram. The platform is centered around the use of filters with a fairly simple but powerful editing interface that doesn’t force the user to leave the app or the phone. But with dedicated cameras, the logic is to edit on the computer. For many cases, this makes sense, but in many other cases it really doesn’t. Modern cameras deliver excellent quality JPEGs that when viewed on the small mobile phone screens will look incredible as they are.
But why haven’t cameras adopted the crazy cool filter looks in a way that makes it simpler to use? Olympus, with their Pen F, made the use of high contrast black and white easy and very addicting. Canon, Sony, Nikon and Fujifilm have had their own artistic filters for a while but with the exception of Fujifilm’s film profiles, they aren’t used very often. The reason: they’re difficult to use and require digging through the menus. Most recently though, I learned how to create black and white photos with my Sony a7 that look like Ilford film–and I’m smitten with them.
So why isn’t this easier for photographers who love the mobile web? Why does there need to be a step on another step on another step, etc. It’s kind of crazy!
Now you may say that you don’t want to do that–and that’s totally fine and dandy to say. But considering the fact that many camera sales are down overall, finding a way to reach out to this audience and cater to them makes sense.
Then there is the next super big thing: SnapChat. I can’t tell you how many of those stupid filters and overlays I find on my various feeds with friends and colleagues simply just having fun and laughing endlessly at how cool and enjoyable the short content they create can be. If this were possible with a dedicated camera, it would be super crazy cool!
But on top of this, a bigger problem is that all of these companies aren’t finding a way to work together. I use the word problem very specifically because they can all help to contribute to the progression of the medium. If Instagram said tomorrow that they wanted to work with Canon, Nikon or Sony to have automatic exporting of their filters in the according built in app, that would be huge!
As each day passes, photography as we know it will continue to change and be more about the mobile web. In all honesty, it has been for a while–most readers of this site and mobile users. And at the same time, camera companies will need to find a way to move forward.