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Jack Elway: The Smartphone Has Taken over Photography

Thanks to the popularity of the smartphone, people are more connected today than ever before. However, smartphones are for more than just talking; they are also designed to make it easier for people to chronicle their lives in pictures, according to photography enthusiast Jack Elway. In fact, smartphones have become such a huge part of ordinary life that they have almost overtaken dedicated cameras as the devices of choice for capturing photographs.

According to information recently released by Flickr, a website that hosts images and videos, smartphones accounted for a whopping 48 percent of all of the photographs uploaded on the website in 2016. Meanwhile, digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs) — which feature a combination of a single-lens reflex camera and a digital imaging sensor — fell from 31 percent in 2015 to just 25 percent in 2016. At the same time, the compact camera fell from 25 percent in 2015 to 21 percent in 2016. Mirrorless cameras stayed at only 3 percent, which is relatively low. A mirrorless camera does not feature the optical viewfinder and mirror that a DSLR has.

The Flickr data indicated that, of all of the smartphones available on the market, the Apple iPhone was in the lead, dominating on Flickr in 2016 over the large camera makers. Based on brand, about 47 percent of users on Flickr uploaded pictures from Apple devices, whereas only 24 percent of users used Canon equipment and only 18 percent used Nikon equipment.

In looking at the list of the top 10 camera models, the future looks even bleaker for today’s dedicated cameras. Only two models made it onto the list, at the 10th and eighth spots for the Canon EOS 5D Mark II and Mark III, respectively.

The question is, why has the smartphone essentially taken over DSLRs and other types of cameras on the photography front? One reason is that modern smartphone cameras have more megapixels compared to those of the past, so images today look better than what we could capture years ago. Smartphones have not caught up to point-and-shoot cameras in terms of megapixel amount and sensor size, with point-and-shoots having more megapixels and larger sensors. The larger a sensor is, the more light you can capture for a photograph, and this, in turn, leads to more accurate and detailed images. However, they feature enough pixels to meet about 99 percent of your photography needs.

DSLR cameras, however, are still on Flickr’s list of the top 10 camera models because these cameras are superior to their smartphone and point-and-shoot counterparts when it comes to their megapixel amounts and sensor sizes as well as their optical zooming capability, which is far superior to that of the smartphone. Smartphones are notorious for struggling to capture pictures and low-light conditions, particularly at night. In addition, smartphones are not ideal for capturing moving subjects, such as athletes, whereas a dedicated camera can accomplish this with ease due to its automatic focus. However, both smartphones and DSLRs/ other types of cameras have an important place in the contemporary world of photography.