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Have digital cameras and camcorders been rendered obsolete by mobile technology?

Digital technology has come a long way as far as digital cameras are concerned. According to recent surveys, a large percentage of consumers are turning to their mobile phones and tablet PCs for all their picture-taking needs. While not long ago camcorders and digital cameras were a must-have in nearly every household, their sales have been steadily declining over the past five years. In the UK, 8 per cent of consumers claimed that they would not replace their digital cameras once they stopped functioning, as they found it easier to rely on their mobile devices.

And it doesn’t end there. The increasing quality of recording technology seems to be slowly replacing the popularity of the hand-held digital camcorder. This has prompted many of us to question whether standalone digital cameras and camcorders can still offer anything that smartphones cannot. We’ve done some research on this and here’s our take on this issue.

Image Quality

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There’s no denying that a great deal of work has been put into improving image quality in mobile devices. For example, the latest iPhone comes with an 8-megapixel camera, whereas top-of-the-range Android phones like Nokia’s Lumia 1020 is equipped with a state-of-the-art 41-megapixel camera that allows for crystal-clear resolution and a high level of detail even in magnified images. However, the performance of the latest smartphones still lags behind digital cameras when it comes to picture-taking in poorly lit settings. White balance issues have also been reported. As for moving images, typical video resolution in the newest smartphones ranges between 720 and 1080p, which is on par with most mod-range digital cameras and camcorders.

User-friendliness and other features

The average consumer shows a strong preference for sleek and compact gadgets, and smartphones fit the bill in this respect. For example, Apple’s iPhone 6 has a 4.7′ display and is 6.9mm thick (or thin, depending on how you look at it). On the other hand, some of the best compact cameras (like those created by Ricoh and Fujifilm) have a 3′ display, but the display tilting mechanism compensates for the reduction in size. Tablets are cumbersome to use for picture-taking and video-recording, and although they offer the added convenience of being able to edit and share your pictures in situ, most modern cameras now have Wi-Fi capability too and come equipped with great editing software.
Compact cameras and camcorders still come ahead of smartphones in terms of additional features like auto-focus speed (which can be as fast as 0.05 seconds), manual zoom, and reliability across a wide range of settings.

Cost

Cost is another crucial consideration when it comes to deciding whether investing in a new camera is worth it or not. According to the latest market surveys, bridge cameras can be found for under £250, whereas high-end compact cameras are being sold for £450-£500. Compare that to the price of the iPhone 6, which can be as high as £789. There are more affordable options, such as the Nokia Lumia 830, which retails for £300 (SIM-free). As for camcorder prices, decent models can be found for anything between £150 and £350, although high-end models can cost as much as £1,200.

So, are digital cameras and camcorders still worth it? The answer is yes, as we cannot overlook the fact that they have been designed to provide a superb and reliable digital and visual experience whose breadth and width is yet to be matched by mobile devices.

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