While much justifiable criticism has been levied against the evolution of cellphone cameras, there is a tremendous beneficiary journalism. We know have a literal global network of camera operators with the ability to capture newsworthy events and transmit usable photos.
Many photographers dismiss this technological shift. After all, how can a point-and-shoot (especially a low quality one at that) take the place of a modern DSLR with a selection of lenses? The answer is easy speed and mobility.
Lets accept that a modern smartphone has a camera that is technically capable of producing an image that is usable by most news and editorial outlets. Heres what smartphones have that most DSLRs do not. Hopefully camera manufacturers and others can push the evolution forward (and yes, evolution these days happens in the consumer space far quicker and more often than the pro equipment segment).
- Data network. First and foremost is the ability to publish on demand. First often matters when it comes to news the ability to shoot and tweet/Facebook/share is the key factor here. Why are WiFi connections in pro cameras so far between and so stapled-on?
- Geotagging. Photos from mobile devices are tagged with essential metadata right in camera. No need for another adapter plugged into your camera. GPS data as well as relevant date info is automatically captured. This makes it easier to search and discover new images by those interested in finding them. Location-based search is already throughly integrated into both the Google and Bing search engines.
- Compelling and optimized software. Nearly every top software company has some amazing offerings in the app space. Whether its Adobe Photoshop Express (or the newer Touch), niks Snapseed, or Photogene full-featured editing apps allow for cropping, adjusting, toning, and repairing of digital photos immediately.
- Location-aware updates. The fact that those in a breaking news situation can actually read updates is critical. The real-time feedback of services like Twitter help those concerned with documenting events find the story and often interact with others.
- Helper applications. From maps, to sun tables, to weather guides its all there. How a modern photographer could shoot without a smartphone is a valid question.
So will professional digital photography evolve? Why not allow the tethering of your smart phone to your camera. Couldnt Nikon, Canon and others offer intelligent apps that tie your phone to your camera? Couldnt journalists and others push to a tablet for basic touchup then publish without having to lug a laptop?
As we move closer and closer to digital only delivery for our news and periodicals the DSLR may go the way of the designer. The quick and the agile will evolve and survive while the rest become extinct.