SNAP HAPPY

Smart­phone cam­eras are look­ing pretty flash these days, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley- Ni­chol­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

Smart phone cam­eras are look­ing flash

WILL the smart­phone de­feat the dig­i­tal cam­era?

It’s a phe­nom­e­non that’s been dubbed ‘‘ pho­neog­ra­phy’’ in ref­er­ence to the grow­ing num­ber of pho­tog­ra­phers reach­ing for the cam­era in their pocket rather than the one in their back­pack.

A new British study re­veals 45 per cent of pho­tog­ra­phers are us­ing a smart­phone to cap­ture im­ages and video, com­pared to just 40 per cent of snap­pers us­ing a ded­i­cated cam­era alone.

The trend is ev­i­dent on on­line pho­to­shar­ing sites. Ap­ple’s smart­phones have risen to be­come the top two cam­eras used to cap­ture Flickr pho­tos, with the iPhone 4 and 4S beat­ing Canon’s full- frame EOS 5D MkII cam­era ( which is more than $ 2000 more ex­pen­sive).

Ex­perts say phone cam­eras can­not yet re­pro­duce the im­age qual­ity of ded­i­cated cam­eras and man­u­fac­tur­ers need to keep in­no­vat­ing.

Min­tel’s British pho­tog­ra­phy study showed more than four in five pho­tog­ra­phers use their phones as cam­eras, with 8 per cent of re­spon­dents say­ing they would use a smart­phone rather than buy a new cam­era if their model breaks.

Min­tel tech­nol­ogy an­a­lyst Sa­muel Gee says these cam­era phones are con­stantly im­prov­ing and re­sults could be­come ‘‘ too high for con­sumers to re­li­ably dis­tin­guish be­tween com­peti­tors’’.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers are cer­tainly tak­ing up the chal­lenge. Nokia re­cently re­leased a 41- megapixel cam­era in its 808 PureView phone, break­ing res­o­lu­tion records.

Multi- megapixel phones are be­com­ing more com­mon in Aus­tralia, too.

HTC’s Ti­tan 4G comes with a 16- megapixel cam­era and Sony’s new Xpe­ria S flag­ship of­fers a 12- megapixel shooter.

Oth­ers, like the iPhone 4S, of­fer ex­tra cam­era en­hance­ments such as back­lit sen­sors and in­fra- red fil­ters for bet­ter qual­ity im­ages.

Tel­syte se­nior an­a­lyst Rod­ney Gedda says there are more phones than peo­ple in Aus­tralia, with 24 mil­lion con­nected hand­sets at last count.

‘‘ Close to 100 per cent of those phones come with built- in cam­eras,’’ Gedda says.

‘‘ And the beauty of hav­ing a cam­era inside your phone is that you can not only take a photo quickly but you can share it quickly, too.’’

Gee says man­u­fac­tur­ers need to em­brace the trend to en­sure pho­tog­ra­phers keep in­vest­ing in new ded­i­cated cam­eras.

‘‘ Cam­era man­u­fac­tur­ers must choose to ei­ther in­vest in a web ser­vice that com­ple­ments cap­tured pho­tos or video, or to fo­cus on in­clud­ing new hard­ware ca­pa­bil­i­ties and mod­i­fi­ca­tions to re­tain con­sumer in­ter­est,’’ he says.

Innovations such as in­ter­net- con­nected cam­eras and mem­ory cards are al­ready emerg­ing. And new DSLR and com­pact sys­tem cam­eras are work­ing hard to re­cruit more ad­vanced pho­tog­ra­phers.

They face in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion from pho­tog­ra­phy apps, how­ever. In­sta­gram alone hosts more than a bil­lion pho­tos and its users add more than five mil­lion daily.

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