Photography’s Fate is Blurry

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Every two minutes camera strapped humans take more photos than existed over the course of the last 150 years. 1.8 billion of our images are uploaded daily to the internet, which means more than 650 billion photos are uploaded every year. Considering when by Joseph Niepce invented the camera obscura in the early 1800s it took 8 hours to capture a single image, the photocentric world we’re currently living in is completely absurd. Not only is the number of pictures taken ridiculous, the number of instruments with the capacity to take picture is nearly as farcical too boot. Between smartphones, DSLRs, point-and-shoot digital cameras, webcams, camcorders, security cameras, and every other device equipped with a lens and sensor you can imagine we are living in a severely bloated image capturing age. Interestingly enough, it’s only going to get worse.

15 years ago, if you went on a family vacation and wanted to take a group picture chances are you had to wrangle the singular camera available, double check that it had enough exposures left, bother a stranger, and hope that the film would be developed correctly. Not only is all of that gone today, but the entire process has been scrapped and replaced with dually camera-equipped smartphones, instant image gratification of review, reshoots, and sharing. From henceforth no generation will know the struggle of film cameras, will most likely never be concerned with blurry photos, and their only worry will be what to do with the billion photos they accrue over the course of their life.

Too film purist these advances are a travesty, but for the average consumer these changes are heaven sent. Every experience level of photographer can now be satisfied by the photography marketplace. Smartphones offer incredible quick grab images, point-and-shoot digital cameras run circles around mid-90s film camera, and DSLRs are so powerful you can shoot feature films on them. The marketplace has become a consumer's paradise; however, the surplus of options, historically low prices, and arms race of device production, camera manufacturers are living in figurative hellscape.

The golden age for camera manufacturers was most definitely the 20th century. Cameras were mechanical devices that required maintain, a constant supply of film, and consumer demand seemed endless. The 21st century has seen the bottom of point-and-shoot camera sales be devoured by smartphones, and the high end become a never ending battle of bang-for-consumer-buck. Throughout the entire industry, digital camera sales are down nearly 50 percent through the first half of 2016. Making matters worse, Canon and Nikon, two companies which have prided themselves the Cadillac and BMW of camera manufacturers, have seen their market share fall due to undercut powerhouse devices from former also rans Sony and Panasonic.

Still Samsung, a recent rising star in the camera manufacturing game, recent ceased production of its DSLR line citing weak demand. Could Sony or Panasonic also be in trouble? Three years ago, an internal review of Sony’s expenses found the smartest profit saving move would be to kill off all its electronics manufacturing. Only Japanese pride and loyalty kept their camera, audio, and home entertainment lines in production. Logic dictates the safest consumer choice would be to go purchase the most popular brands, but who’s to say Canon or Nikon won’t be the next Kodak and disappear in rapid fashion?

While the immediate fate of the camera industry is in serious turmoil, chances are DSLRs and point-and-shoot cameras will still be on store shelves in ten years. For now, if you are only a casual photographer and concerned about throwing your money away on a product that may be on the manufacturer chopping block, just stick with your smartphone. Need to drop a could thousand dollars when all you’re really looking for is selfies.

Patrick Boberg is a central Iowa creative media specialist. For more tech insights, follow him on Twitter @PatBoBomb


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