Are smartphones really to blame for declining camera sales? Or is it something else?

Tips & Techniques

We often hear smartphones are to blame for the massive decline in camera sales over the last few years. And while they have no doubt played a major part for a lot of general consumers, is it really enough to see the huge drops we’ve seen?

Photographer Robin Wong isn’t so sure. He recently published the video above along with a blog post looking into other reasons why the market may be dwindling. The man may have a point.

Wong isn’t saying that smartphones haven’t had an impact on photography. But he believes it’s certainly not the only contributing factor. I have to admit, some of these have entered my mind, although I don’t necessarily agree with all of Wong’s points.

  • Cameras have been “sufficient” for several years – Essentially, cameras reached a point where they were good enough for 99% of peoples needs several years ago. I couldn’t agree with this more with that viewpoint. Every day I see people “upgrading” their cameras to newer and more expensive models, only to shoot images that aren’t even pushing the limits of what they just replaced. It’s just an exercise in wasting money for many of them. They’ve fallen into the trap of believing that newer and more expensive gear will make them a better photographer. It won’t. But more people are starting to realise this, and are still using their 5D Mark IIIs, D750s, and even the A7II rather than their newer replacement models. Cameras are lasting longer and many don’t feel the need to upgrade.
  • Interest in photography is declining – I don’t really agree with this one. There are more photographs made now than ever in history. I think, perhaps, technological advancements have allowed many to believe that it’s a lot easier than it really is, with cameras and apps that can figure everything out for them when they really can’t, but don’t know any better, so don’t really learn the technical aspects and really push their kit. I think it’s more a Dunning-Kruger thing than anything else.
  • Social media has changed the landscape of photography – For better or for worse, it most certainly has. Wong believes that social media has made photography more about the photographer and less about the content of the images themselves. Photography has become a popularity contest, with many just posting about themselves. And if you’re only ever posting your images online, you don’t need crazy high resolutions and ISOs in the millions to get those shots. The vast majority of images I see on social media could be shot with just about any DSLR or mirrorless camera made in the last decade or more.
  • Photography is stagnant – I think this kind of goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. But Wong also takes it a step further. He believes that a lot of photography these days is simply a lot of “me too”, with very few really pushing themselves to create something new and unique. Or even trying. Photography is no longer the art form that it once was and a lot of people today aren’t looking at photography in that way.

When it comes to potential solutions to these problems, Wong doesn’t really have any. He doesn’t think that there’s really anything we can do at this point, but he does offer a suggestion that might help to boost photography as a whole and I suppose, potentially, camera sales, too. After all, if we’re pushing ourselves and actually hitting the limits of our gear, we’re going to need new gear.

We can do our part, to improve ourselves, be better photographers, be true to ourselves, then we can be the inspiration for others to follow. I am sure together, we can bring the joy and true meaning of photography back to this world.

With a lot of new camera bodies expected to be announced over the next few months, like the D750 replacement, Nikon D6 and Canon 1DX Mark III, I wonder how their sales will compare to those of their predecessors.

After you’ve watched the video above, head on over to Robin’s blog to read some more of his thoughts on each of the points.

Do you agree with Robin? What else do you think is contributing to the decline in camera sales?

[via PetaPixel]

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