Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Death of the DSLR: Mobilephotography Awards 2016

With photos like these? Who needs a DSLR? And with it, the 6th Mobilephotography Awards comes to a close. In the Photo photo essay category, anyone with a camera would be wondering why Leica styled monochrome photos were entered in such a contest, well for one maybe it wasn't shot on a Leica?

Well, if that is the case, then what hope have those with Canons and Nikons?

One of the persistent problems with digital photography is the democratization of the image industry in photojournalism. You can pretty much do anything to match a pro if you knew the tips and tricks of your camera phone.

All camera brands built their reputation on photojournalism. Canon was the leader in sports photography and still is, Nikon was a leader in photojournalism but no more, and so was Leica which was heavily associated with the likes of HCB during the war years and later as a street photography/news camera icon.

Today, mobile phone photography has taken all but the sports photography industry with catchy photos and it will only be a matter of time before the DSLR becomes obsolete. Is this a good or bad thing? Depends which side of the fence you are sitting on. For those whose livelihood depended on selling cameras, this is a game changer to be worried about. For those who shoot photos, it just becomes another excuse for not carrying that DSLR that costed you a fortune.  

This worrying trend has seen sales of DSLR equipment plummet to levels not seen before and there are even more brands jumping onto the photography truck stop hoping to catch a ride on its coat tails before it all goes to bust. 

Different Phones for Different Folks

Huawei jumped into bed with Leica to produce the P9 and Mate 9 camera phones which emulate the Leica look in photography. This means the phones itself have this magic formula to give it a right dash of contrast to make it look outstanding.

Not only that, Huawei also teamed up with Porsche to make a Mate 9 derivative, known as the Porsche Design Mate 9. But did Porsche put in a bit of its Weissach magic into it? Not that I know of.

With phone cameras these good, why bother with a DSLR?

For the record, we are already living in the age of the dual camera phone. Now we only need to add one more to conquer the Sport Photography industry and I believe it will be within the next five years.

So what good is it to carry that DSLR with you?

For one I can't figure this out.

During the time I was the DSLR consultant to Sony, I figured that people still had to carry a Notebook with charger, a few SD cards, and three lenses with their camera of choice while on holiday. But today, you'd be quite foolish to lug around such monstrosities while on holiday.

Everything you need TODAY resides in your camera phone. Regardless if you are a Android or iPhone user, you can now upload all your photos shot during the day to Google's Photo storage. I do know many idiots still do not know such a feature exist and I have personally met them. I ask them if they knew they didn't have to back up their photos manually but install an app from Google or Flickr to do this.

Of course, the fate of Flickr is in peril and the hundreds of gigabytes of photos could get deleted if it went bust. But Google photos still offered an alternative cloud storage if you quit Flickr.

So, out the window is the computer and external HD drive. Even if you are going rogue where there is no Wifi or 3G, there is still hope in Wifi enabled HD storage which you can tether your smartdevice to and back up your photos. Some even have up to 10 hours of battery life for you to back up your photos from you iPhone, so why are you still carrying a Notebook computer?

Sure you might want to have three lenses for your DSLR just to have a choice of view angles and Bokeh. For Bokeh, you now have the Google Camera App that mimics the depth of field or use a dual camera iPhone or Huawei to have the same effect.

You don't even need Photoshop on your notebook to process photos either. The latest update from Snapseed has included the much needed 'curve' feature which now means you can edit your photos on the fly while waiting for the bus.

The last bastion of the DSLR in everyday use has to be night photography which at the present time most iPhones or smart devices cannot do. Now look at the term 'night photography' as opposed to low light photography. I have used this to differentiate the two as iPhones and Android device can perform pretty well in low light these days.

Some of you might say that you can't shoot sports photos on an iPhone but this is not entirely true. Remember Dan Chung? He shot the Olympics with an iPhone. Of course he needed some help like using a Binoculars as a Zoom lens.

I think it will be only a matter of time before someone uses an iPhone with a binoculars to shoot the Le Mans 24 hours.

Impossible? Not really. Phones these days have burst speed to capture action photography of up to 10 frames a second. Even on the fastest film cameras of old, the Nikon F5 only achieved 8fps. This means if you can't capture a decent action shot with 10 fps, you better go back to your day job.

The death of the DSLR is imminent.

I will miss the this beast as much as I miss vintage cars. But for me, there is still hope in film all hope is not lost.


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