Geeks2U Promise
We guarantee you'll love our fast, friendly service - or we'll refund your money.  
133,572 Happy Customers & Counting
Need tech support?
1300 769 448
Extended hours, 7 days a week
Home  /  geekspeak  /  Is the era of the standalone digital camera over?

Is the era of the standalone digital camera over?

camerachoice

Recently, I took a brief but well-earned holiday to Tokyo, Japan. As a tourist, I wanted to capture some photographic memories, but there you’ve got something of a choice when it comes to how you capture those images. For most of us, the most obvious camera to use would be the one on your smartphone. A camera on a phone has long ago stepped away from being a novelty and into the realm of the commonplace, with many high-end premium smartphones boasting of their visual prowess in breathless marketing prose.

They aren’t aiming at the market that would use a DSLR-type camera, because those are still heavy enthusiast power tools, but they have decimated the market for standalone digital cameras. I was curious to see how I’d adapt if I had both to hand, so I packed a high-end premium smartphone — Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, to be precise — as well as a good travel zoom camera, specifically Panasonic’s TZ110.

The iPhone 7 Plus sells itself on its dual lens array, with one lens offering a 2x Optical Zoom. You can zoom in on just about any smartphone, but what you’re doing there is digital zoom, where the individual pixels are effectively expanded in size via software. It’s a clumsy solution that in almost every case you’d be better off doing in post processing via an application such as Photoshop Elements rather than trying in the camera. Real optical zooms are rare in smartphones, so it’s a solid selling point for the iPhone 7 Plus.

That being said, the TZ110 features a 10x optical zoom, and what’s more it’s a physical zoom control, which means you can move in distinctly smaller steps as opposed to the iPhone’s single doubling optical zoom move. A zoom that measures in at 10x optical gives you a lot more room to move, creatively speaking.
After a week in Tokyo enjoying the sights, sounds and culture of what is one of my favourite cities, I’d taken a fair amount of photos, and realised that realistically, both approaches still have their place. What I found interesting was in how I used either camera.

The smartphone camera was used more, simply because it’s easier to whip a phone out of your pocket and take a quick snap on a second’s inspiration. It fills that whole maxim about the “best camera being the one that you’ve got with you” rather well in that aspect. The iPhone 7 Plus’ optics are good for a smartphone, and the ability to zoom, even in a minimal way did give me some scope that I wouldn’t have had with another phone.

I expected to simply use the TZ110 primarily for those longer shots, because 10x zoom is enticing. What I found, however, is that the greater effort involved in setting up the TZ110 — I had to pull it out of a bag, power it up, wait, zoom and then focus — meant that when I decided to use it, I tended to spend a little more time in composition than I did with the spray-and-pray iPhone 7 Plus. That’s not so good for those blink-and-you’ll-miss-them moments for which a smartphone is ideal, but some of my favourite pictures from that trip came from slowing down, choosing angles and making more time for each individual photo, which I did more with a camera that was simply a camera, rather than just a smartphone where the camera function is just one of its tricks.

There’s no doubting that standalone compact cameras don’t have the cachet that they used to, and the very cheap compacts that used to be sold in stores are now few and far between. The TZ110 I used was a more high-end device, albeit one typically available a lot cheaper than the iPhone 7 Plus, but it does show that while smartphones have made inroads into these spaces, until we can get better sensors, apertures and especially optical zoom, we’re not likely to see them completely vanish.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Recent News

chromeicon

If you’re a user of Google’s popular Chrome browser — and with anywhere between 60-80% of the web’s traffic delivered to Chrome, the chances are pretty good that you are — then come July, you’ll see a significant change in how the web pages you visit are presented. That’s because the version of Google Chrome… More 

ytm

In the world of online music streaming, there are a number of big-name players. Spotify is the best known, and Apple has its own play in Apple Music. Users of Google’s Android operating systems are probably more familiar with Google Play Music. Google’s approach to Google Play Music has always been an odd one from… More 

parentalcontrols

If you’ve got kids, you may well be concerned that they’re far more tech-savvy than you are. Having grown up with technology as an absolutely expected part of their lives, and with so much IT integrated into school curriculums through their education, it’s pretty easy to feel as though they’re well ahead of you. That… More 

win10update

If you’re using a Windows 10 PC, you’ve probably been alerted to the existence of what Microsoft’s calling the “April 2018 Update” to your operating system. This isn’t some kind of April fool’s joke, or for that matter an update only applicable to women called April, but instead the latest larger-scale update to Windows 10… More