Sony says smartphones will replace cameras. The question is not “if?” but when?”

Smartphones are still in quality compared to DSLRs, but that’s about to change. If so, the photo industry will shrink even more.

Some time ago the world was broadcast by a rather controversial statement from Terushi Shimizu, president of Sony Semiconductor Solutions, who said at a business meeting that he expects smartphone photos match the quality of current DSLRs by 2024. Obviously, this has raised a lot of debate. Whichever way you look at it, the smartphone industry continues to convince us that each new generation of cameras is “revolutionary” and “breakthrough”. It is therefore difficult to look at it other than another marketing slogan aimed at conquering the sale of new phones from Sony, which is currently strongly focused on the photo aspect of its phones. Recall that the Sony Pro-I is even the first smartphone to have borrowed a photosensitive matrix from a full-fledged camera and you can get amazing results with it.

But does this mean that we will soon put aside classic SLRs? Well, on the one hand it seems hard to imagine, and on the other hand the story speaks for it.

Find out how many industries have already been completed by smartphones

Looking at the market, we can clearly see that phones combining the function of many devices over the years are frustrating companies that seemed impossible to move. When smartphones arrived, the hardest hit industry was portable MP3 players. Even the first smartphones with a memory card slot were able to offer more space for music and, by the way, they allowed to install the player application that we liked. Handheld game consoles have also long since fallen out of the market, as Android and iOS offer an incomparably greater number of titles. As soon as phone photos reached decent quality, small portable digital cameras very quickly disappeared from the market. They are done with the usability of smartphones and the fact that 90 percent. robots are there for the user of the software.

And of course – it’s not that these products have “completely” disappeared from the market. Most things broadcast by phones still exist, and finding the right niche was key to survival. MP3 players are still available for sale, but in the premium segment for people willing to spend several thousand zlotys on them. Likewise with consoles, which have certainly influenced in one way or another the way we perceive today, for example Switch or Steam Deck.

And what can we say – this is exactly the scenario that happened in the case of cameras. No one takes a compact on trips anymore (or a small percentage of people do), and everyone relies on taking photos with their smartphone. DSLR cameras were brought into the market because the niche/group of people who value better photo quality rather than the convenience of using a smartphone is large enough to sustain this market.

But here you can also see that the niche is shrinking

If we look at the market of photo brands in recent years, we will see that there are no stories of market conquests, but rather – a struggle to earn a living, not always successful. Among the brands that have found themselves on the border are Kodak (which declared bankruptcy in 2012) or Olympus (the camera division sold to Japan Industrial Partners). Other companies, in turn, are undergoing technological changes, moving from SLRs to mirrorless cameras. At the same time, looking at the sales statistics, I think most cameras with the Leica or Hasselblad logo are already on the market today.

Of course, the fate of the industry hinges on whether smartphones can take photos that are at least similar to full-frame cameras. I think they don’t have to hit exactly that, because history teaches us that we willingly sacrifice quality for comfort. So smartphones just need to be closer in camera quality and niche, as in the case of other industries. will gradually decrease. At the same time, however, it must be remembered that the industry itself is also developing, and no phone in the near future will capture such an image as the Hasselblad H6D-400c for 163,000 PLN, but at the same time – this is not equipment that you will see with your eyes on the street and most people will not see it, ever in your life.

For this reason, I believe that in the popular understanding of the word, smartphones will eventually replace the amateur applications of SLRs and mirrorless cameras, leaving them only for pro applications, pushing this system of devices into a niche yet deeper. And there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not the first time consumer choices have shaped the future of technology. Of course – it will probably say that smartphones will never have the quality of the camera due to physical limitations, so such a scenario cannot happen. Well, the last few decades have been a demonstration of overcoming physical limitations and finding ways around them. So I don’t see any reason why it should be any different this time around.

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