The Future of Digital Photography

With the advancement of technology, predominantly the evolution of smartphones, how is the digital image industry changing? Are big companies such as Canon, Nikon and Samsung still able to make a profit off of camera sales, or will they have to change and adapt their product? Will these big firms survive?

The development of smartphones means consumers are able to take quick and high definition pictures easily, and share them instantly on apps such as Instagram, Facebook and Vine. Photography is a growing trend, but mainly for doing things such as taking selfies, and the “point and shoot” market, where uploading your pictures to share with your friends as quickly as possible is more important than taking a high-quality picture. Even that is debatable, as some professional photographers note: anyone can take a stunning photo similar to the one below with your smartphone, as long as you get the lighting and moment right.

Engineer turned professional photographer, Josh Marshall took this photo with his iPhone at Merewether Beach in Newcastle.

Engineer turned professional photographer, Josh Marshall took this photo with his iPhone at Merewether Beach in Newcastle.

With the rise of smartphone use in mind, only two camera manufacturers made a profit in 2012: Canon and Nikon. Just a few years ago, over 35 million cameras were sold. In 2013, just 14 million were sold. Companies such as Nikon and Canon built factories in China and Thailand along with other countries, to meet the digital camera demands of the last decade. However, since the growth of the smartphone industry, the drop of sales means firms will not be able to maintain their current infrastructures as these fixed costs become too high.

Below is a table showing the Imaging Revenue for the biggest companies in the industry:

Imaging Revenue (Billions)

Imaging Revenue (Billions)

Notice Samsung is at the very bottom of that list but is way above everyone else when looking at overall revenue (their revenue was $247 billion compared to the next firm on the list: Panasonic, whose revenue was $99 billion). This shows that Samsung, along with companies like Apple, do not think photography is as important as other technologies and markets when looking to maximise profit. Are they right to think this?

Is there a way for the digital image industry to evolve to satisfy and profit from the new trends in photography? An interesting survey was taken that shows big digital camera firms potentially can, if they strategise effectively. The survey found that consumers desire to have digital cameras in which they can access Wi-Fi. This suggests that the firm which taps into this growing trend and establishes itself as the firm with which you can buy wireless DSLR cameras or something of a similar nature, could reap huge benefits and profits.

This has in fact already started to happen. As of December last year, Canon’s EOS 6D full-frame DSLR was one of several cameras to offer built-in Wi-Fi features that work in the real world, many having failed to do so before that.

Advertising cameras for their quality and most up to date technology is not enough anymore. Consumers seem to care more about convenience these days, than the most high definition cameras. This is especially true when you look at Nokia 808 PureView, which has a 41 megapixel camera. So all in all, the camera industry is changing and must change, in order to adapt and respond to the growth of smartphones and it is interesting to see where that will take firms like Nikon and Canon, and whether they will survive.

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4 thoughts on “The Future of Digital Photography

  1. When I was in middle school/high school, owning a digital camera was such a big deal. I remember saving up my money until I was able to purchase one of my own. I used it until I got an iPhone, and then realized that I didn’t even need my camera anymore because my phone took pictures that were as good or even better. I just thought about the sales of digital cameras again when I was at a target the other day, and this article seemed to answer all of my questions. I personally don’t think that the digital camera industry (for small personal cameras excluding the big, fancy, and expensive digital cameras) can be saved.

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  2. After I read this blog, I began to think about how while camera companies are suffering from losses due to smartphones, are photographers suffering loses as well? Smartphones allow anyone to be a photographer and anyone can edit their own photos, but is there still a demand for professional photographers? It would be interesting to look at how the supply and demand for photographers has changed over the past few years.

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  3. jamesel2014 says:

    I agree with Alliew2014’s idea about the demand of professional photographers. It is true anyone can snap a quick snapchat image, but taking those type of photos don’t earn you professionalism. Nikon’s top of the line DSLR cameras and attachments are hella expensive, and not one nine-teen-year-old would spend that kind of cash. Unless, otherwise, photography is your career then I’m sure companies like Times or National Geographic purchase the equipment for an intern.

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  4. As technology develops I think the cameras that are put into smart phones will become more and more comparable with the cameras that companies like Nikon and Canon make. The accessibility of the pictures taken on a smart phone make them a much more desirable product. As time progresses the amount of storage that smart phones are able to store will be exponentially greater than now and they will be able to install much nicer cameras with more pixels and greater resolution.

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