Look what Steve Jobs did to the camera business

From Feliz Richter's "Smartphones Wipe Out Decades of Camera Industry Growth" posted Tuesday on Statista:

One of the standout features in many new smartphones is the camera. With image sensors getting smaller (yet better) and the computational power of smartphones allowing sophisticated image enhancement in real time, photos taken on modern smartphones are edging ever closer to the quality once reserved to expensive interchangeable lens cameras.

And it's not just the high-end of the smartphone market. Over the past few years, smartphone cameras in general have improved significantly. So much so in fact, that most people no longer see the need to carry or buy a dedicated camera. While professionals and photo enthusiasts will (probably) always get better results using high-end cameras and lenses, modern smartphones take pictures that are easily sufficient for the demands of the average consumer.

To the camera and photo equipment industry, the rise of smartphone photography has had devastating effects. According to CIPA, a Japan-based industry group with members such as Olympus, Canon and Nikon, worldwide camera shipments dropped by 93 percent between 2010 and 2021, wiping out decades of growth. The steep decline was mainly driven by a drop-off in shipments of digital cameras with built-in lenses, the type that casual photographers used to rely on prior to the rise of smartphone photography.

My take: What happens when the pros see raw images shot on Apple's new 48 megapixel lenses?


  1. David Emery said:
    I’m no photography pro, but I’ll let you know what I think of the 14 Pro’s camera when my wife’s phone gets here next week…

    September 27, 2022
  2. My first SLR was a Yashica TL Electro X with a built-in digital light meter. Studio photo equipment and Hasselblads will persist. I believe Nikon makes more on medical lab equip these days. The raw images from my 13 Pro are stunning but I still bring the Nikon DSLRs to every assignment. Show up to a factory or stadium shoot without that real long lens & DSLRs strapped on and they won’t even admit you to the facility or press areas.
    Advances in gimbal-free steady shots, the rise of TikTok video sharing, macros and support for Pro video formats all contribute to demand for the 14 Pro models.
    I’ve interchanged smartphones & DLSRs during shoots for a decade, iPads and Wi-Fi let clients watch my shoot in real-time.
    The megapixels & equipment mean little if you don’t learn to make composition, lighting and framing choices. IPhone frees you up to do those things. More aspiring artists can do so on a small fraction of the amount I’ve spent on photography equipment.

    September 27, 2022
  3. Daniel Epstein said:
    While I truly believe that larger sensor cameras can take better pictures in many instances I do find the Iphone (and other mobile phone cameras) is more than adequate and even superior to my other digital cameras for many instances. Of course the first thing is I almost always have it with me. When you look at the evolution of the Iphone cameras you see how fast it has improved even in ways that its physically small sensor has become less of of a limit due to the computational power that can be thrown at the image. I wish my other cameras had been developed at a similar speed. For professionals there will always be a reason to have a standalone camera but for most consumers it will be unnecessary.

    September 27, 2022
    • John Konopka said:
      The professional camera makers are in a bind. Because of the size and weight of these cameras they are not intended for spontaneous pictures. (Probably a very few do this.) They are for photo shoots, sports, architecture and such. In such cases the picture comes off the camera and onto a computer for post processing. There was no incentive (and no resources ) for them to develop computational photography.

      My Canon 8D with various lenses takes fantastic images I could never get with the iPhone, but the iPhone clearly wins out because it is alway with me. And because it has a network connection so I can quickly share me photos.

      The one thing I’d like to see from the DSLR makers is much better integration with macOS.

      September 27, 2022
  4. Ken Cheng said:
    Originally, I was thinking I might upgrade my Watch 7 to the new Ultra, but I’d have to try it first. Now, I’m thinking I’ll upgrade my 13Pro to a 14Pro. I retired last year, and am now starting to do backcountry skiing. Planning to go backcountry Cat skiing in Western Canada this year, so I need new equipment like avalanche beacons and some type of satellite communicator, like the Garmin inReach. That’s a $400 device and requires a subscription. If getting a 14Pro means I don’t have to get a Garmin inReach with sub, that’s a big savings.

    Then having the better camera output, including Action Mode, hopefully will make not having to carry a GoPro a practical solution.

    Of course, it’s not all good, as standalone devices tend to be higher-performing, but carrying fewer devices with fewer cables with fewer batteries and fewer SD cards is also an advantage.

    September 27, 2022

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