As more people turn to smartphone cameras for their ease of use, social media sharing capabilities, and cooperation with photo editing apps, some amateur photographers are using their phones to elevate their snaps into money-making masterpieces — which begs the question: Are traditional DSLR cameras worth buying anymore?
The most recent sales figures and projections give a resounding "No."
The camera has become the pinnacle feature consumers look to when considering their next smartphone — a fact that companies like Apple and Samsung know all too well.
At September's iPhone 7 reveal, Apple's senior vice-president of marketing, Phil Schiller, called the camera "the most beloved feature by many of us in our phones," noting that customers expected increasingly advanced camera technology.
This year, 2.5 trillion photos will be shared or stored online, and an estimated 90 percent of those will have been taken on a smartphone, Deloitte Global predicts. Stand-alone cameras are struggling to compete — with Nikon's most recent quarter earnings down 31 percent for net sales of the company's imaging products. Olympus has had similarly diving sales, down 25.5 percent in its imaging business's net sales for the quarter. This year, Sony debuted its A99 II camera, perhaps its best ever; but at a retail price of $3,200 (lenses sold separately), it's not a likely investment for the casual Instagrammer.
Liz Eswein, executive director of Cycle, a media company that represents thousands of social influencers on a variety of platforms, knows the money-making value of a smartphone camera. With the right lighting, composition, and hashtags, she made a career from her iPhone photography. Eswein credits a creative eye and a slew of free or low-cost editing apps to her early success.
Aspiring photographers are also gravitating toward phone attachments, such as Moment Lens, to help their photos stand out from the crowd. Moment makes iPhone attachments that allow users to take outstanding photos and videos rivaling those created using a DSLR. Retailing for between $49-$99, the lenses and accompanying app transform the iPhone into a point-and-shoot camera — complete with the ability to control light and high-quality focus.