« Claxton Print at the Center of L.A. Court Fight | Main | The Theory of the Book »

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


Camera phones have been outselling actual cameras for a number of years already, and the proportion now is something like 8:1. At the same time the cameras have become much better. At events and tourist spots here, phone cam users already way outnumber people with a "real" camera.

Forget any argument between film and digital, or between P&S and SLR cameras. The dedicated camera itself is becoming a niche. Wrote a bit about it here: http://janneinosaka.blogspot.com/2009/02/your-last-camera.html

Flikr has always seemed to me to be the ideal outlet for camera phones - people snapping their daily lives with the device to hand in a low-res, web-friendly format.

I'm sure the iPhone is fine in its way, but I do think the reason it's so popular on Flickr is the fact that it's really easy to upload directly from the phone. No "normal" camera can do that, with the exception of a few wifi-enabled ones.

Really sad

For the comparison to be meaningful, either the iPhone figures would have to be broken into 3G and 3Gs figures, or the XTi and XSi counts should be added together.

Also, just because "cameraphones" in general are under-represented, it doesn't mean the same applies to iPhones in particular.

I use Flickr and enjoy posting and looking at posted photographs...I have recently noticed many iPhone snaps, and they can be quite good. There is an app that some use that makes the photo look like a polaroid print. The photo has a border that looks like a scanned polaroid. It struck me that this may be the digital equivalent people have been waiting for. I do not have an iphone,but I want one just to have this app! Yes I know that I can put a polaroid frame around any photo I take, but this seems to do it for you...

One again it is proven that the best camera is the one you have with you.

Interesting graph. People want to share their decisive moments. Whaddayaknow.

I want an upload to Flickr button on my 5D2 too.

Companies that depend on point-and-shoots for their livelihoods (or at least, a good chunk of their revenue) are not happy with that graph.

The hoopla in the camera world is the "convergence" of video and still cameras. The real convergence is cameraphones with every other type of camera, especially compacts.

If the iPhone is only one camera, but the Canon EOSes are three or more, then the stats are too screwy to mean anything. No doubt that mobile phone/cameras are taking over for casual snapshots, though.


Hard to underestimate the sheer fun of being able to shoot and email a photo in one simple operation - from damn near anywhere. I recently used mine when I witnessed a motor vehicle accident where one party failed to stop and leave ID (her subsequent arrest was affected within a half hour). "Interesting" implications legally, and for law enforcement generally...
All in all, it's about shooting 'unserious' fotos. Spur of the moment stuff, even street shooting. It sure ain't art, but it's fun.

The new iPhone 3GS camera -- the one that lets you tap to focus and (more importantly) set the exposure -- is actually a *really good* cameraphone.

Yes, I realize that a "really good" cameraphone is still, at best, a marginal camera. But, it's also in my pocket at all times, and it's good enough to fill that niche, at least for me.

I think they mean "many cameraphones don't write EXIF data". The iPhone does, so it's not underreported, just other cameraphones.

Logical... the best camera is the one you have with you. Couple that to the ease of uploading with an iPhone to Flickr, always & anywhere. And there you have the recipe for being the most popular cam on Flickr. Oh and don't forget that rebel xti & xsi are seen as 2 different cameras. So I don't see why say yikes. For me the rebels are yikes ;)

I'm curious about those iPhone usage jumps. There was a big jump in early June and a smaller one in late April, if I'm reading the chart correctly.

I guess it's no surprise that low and mid range system cameras dominate, and that this means SLR's, but I'm impressed by how much, and by the predictability of the shutterbug market, and by how skewed toward Canon.

On the other hand, we are probably looking at follower behavior as well (as discussed in a recent TOP post), where what is popular with a group is anointed "best" and becomes even more popular, combined with camera system design and marketing.

Is that counting just the original iPhone, or all generations of the product? If it's the latter, this seems like a pretty meaningless comparison - every new (often very marginally different) generation of the same DSLR lineage is counted as a distinct camera (or at least that's how the labeling makes it look), so for a fair comparison every time they put out a slightly different updated iPhone it should be a distinct camera. I realize this may not be possible, but without it it's really that much harder to know what to make of this.

Of course, if it is just the first-generation iPhone they're counting, that's even more impressive.

I'm not sure I would consider the 'iPhone camera' an actual Camera....

Erm, why yikes? Remember that discussion about DMD's and similar stuff? People use what's good enough for them. If that's camera phones, well, that's a choice.

We're getting them this Friday, and it will definitely be more likely to be in my pocket than my K10D.

I'm sure that 15 years ago the number of people shooting with point-and-shoots and processing at Walmart vastly outnumbered those shooting with Nikon F5's, EOS 1's and buying pro-processing combined. It was ever thus. Flickr is, for the most part, a giant electronic shoebox in the sky, no?

Ben Marks

Clearly the modern equivalent of the point-and-shoot.

Here is a way to modify one for "macro" photography.

My wife has an iphone, and I gotta say...it takes some pretty damn good photos. It's not a leica obviously, but it works very well for snapshots IMO.

Peter: except maybe Canon, who also happen to dominate the P&S market as well as the flickr P&S chart. But lets note that flickr use may not parallel camera sales.

Benjamin: My understanding is that the chart shows the past year, which means the 3Gs doesn't enter until the end of that last big surge, which does coincide with a drastic price cut on the older iphone. The $99 promotion for older iphones was only for new accounts, which could explain the surge (new users rather than upgraders).

Maybe we should not conflate flickr with the camera market too much. It makes sense that more uploads come from popular devices with easy access (like iphone) and (from my sense of flickr, anyway) the more clubby "serious amateurs" who seem to gravitate to popular brand name systems with easy entry, clear upgrade paths and conspicuous "pro" usage. I assume that P&S users are spread out among many online sharing sites, and that many of them are more print oriented by habit (from film days), and so are more likely to use more print oriented services.

However, I have to admit that the chart does reflect two trends I see at tourist spots around here: more cell phone snappers, and entire families equipped with SLRs (kids with small, dads with large, moms with a mid-size or a superzoom). My random, unscientific observations suggest that Canon and Sony/Minolta are the more family-friendly systems.

"Clearly the modern equivalent of the point-and-shoot."

Or the modern equivalent of the Polaroid, in that both provide instant results that are easy to share with friends. I've seen some iPhone work that's really pretty good. You've just gotta work within the limitations of your tools.

Flickr's Camera Finder tool uses the EXIF data embedded in uploaded JPG files. Most camera manufacturers (like Canon) take pains to make sure their cameras are easy to distinguish. I don't know if Apple has changd their identifiers for different iPhone revisions.

Some generic camera components, like those used in many cell phones, have equally generic EXIF tags that are not helpful for this purpose. I think that's what they're getting at in the when they say cellphone cameras are under-counted.

I can imagine if Flickr had been around at the height of the Polaroid, the number of Polaroids may well have out numbered those from SLR's.

Mobile phone images are definitely the new Polaroids and there is some great work being done on them.

Especially the iPhones

" I assume that P&S users are spread out among many online sharing sites, and that many of them are more print oriented by habit (from film days), and so are more likely to use more print oriented services."
I can´t help to agree with robert e. I mean, who would buy a DSLR just to post pictures on the web? Why not go all the way and get yourself a Leica and a film scanner? I´m sorry, but I guess uploading pictures from your cellphone just makes much more sense.
That being said, if we add up the figures for all the Canon DSLRs in the chart, it´s but fair to wonder just how many "DSLR owners-Flicker users" actually stopped to think about it.

HCB, or whatever you call him, I think would have used an iPhone, or similar, for his decisive moments had he been around today.

Ease of availability, mass sales, easy to use and being an internet device is contributing to the fame of iphone on flickr. It has nothing to do with the cam quality or anything else. Its just that people have more access to it and playing with its cam's abilities. Nice try though...

Thanks for sharing Mike

The comments to this entry are closed.