Apparently, finding smartphones with only one rear camera will be increasingly rare. This is due to the expansion of devices with two, three and four lenses, of different segments and prices in the market. After all, why do many manufacturers bet on devices with multiple lenses and how this trend affects the market for semi-professional and professional equipment?
Goodbye, professional video cameras
Research already shows us that smartphones influence and continue to influence the camera industry. According to the Camera & Imaging Products Association (CIPA), an international association in the photographic sector, between 2010 and 2019, sales of digital cameras fell 87% worldwide.
The graph drawn up by Statista explains this considerable decline well. See that more than 120 million cameras were sold in 2010; then 98 million in 2012; 43 million in 2014; 25 million in 2017; and 15 million units in 2019. The study considers camera shipments with interchangeable lenses and built-in lenses.
Given this scenario, is it right to say that digital cameras are numbered? To answer this and other questions, the Tecnoblog talked to photographer and videomaker César Ovalle. We also looked for Thiago Masuchette, head of products for Motorola Brazil, and Renato Citrini, senior product manager for the mobile devices division at Samsung Brazil.
How cell phones affect the camera industry
Convenience, advanced technology and content creation for social networks can explain the dizzying falls in sales of digital cameras.
The fact is that cell phones have been improving year after year, breaking barriers and boosting creativity. As a result, acquiring professional equipment, on some occasions, became not so advantageous and, in parallel, the lenses on phones are no longer just a simple additional resource, as the executives explain:
This whole camera concept, yes, comes from a trend, many years ago. Consumers no longer wanted to leave their homes with two devices (a camera and a cell phone to take their pictures). Smartphones managed to group this experience more and more. Motorola worked hard to understand what consumers were looking for, what they want, the trend and make this implementation in their portfolio.
Thiago Masuchette, head of products for Motorola Brazil
The camera was a smartphone accessory. It wasn’t even a smartphone, right? You had your phone, attached a camera, it was an external accessory. So it was a very different world, very low resolution, very limited quality (…) Today we talk about 108 megapixel cameras on the smartphone. You can take a professional quality professional photo [e] with different resources with Artificial Intelligence.
Renato Citrini, senior product manager for the mobile devices division at Samsung Brazil
Thiago’s analysis is in line with what a research by Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, who analyzes the relationship between Generation Z and the image, and points out that she is actively involved in photography. Many still classify themselves as “amateur photographers” or “advanced amateurs”.
The study also brings some hope to the camera industry, since, while 80% said the cell phone is their primary equipment for photographic records, more than 60% said they have a digital camera, which usually belongs to a family member. In addition, 55% of respondents expressed interest in purchasing a digital camera in the future. Despite this, is it worth buying a digital camera today?
Looking at the current scenario of these three and four camera phones, I think it is still necessary, yes, to buy a DSLR or a mirrorless. But this is for me who work professionally, because, sometimes, I need a better delivery, a better sensor, a better file … Not that the cell phone has not evolved or is not enough. For many jobs the cell phone is sufficient.
César Ovalle, photographer and videomaker
The cell phone camera is an ally of creativity, says photographer
Creativity. This is the word that most defines the experience of shooting with a cell phone. With almost 400 thousand followers on Instagram, César Ovalle became even better known for making incredible images with his smartphone and shares some of that experience:
I use a lot of cell phones [para fotografar] and, for me, one of the most positive points is that it limits you, right? (…) As much as you have two, three, four cameras [no celular], it will limit you compared to a DSLR, a mirrorless or any other camera with interchangeable lens. This is a positive point because it makes me exercise more creativity, I can see things differently. Every limitation is in favor of creativity, so this is an extremely positive point.
Despite its limitations, the device – which initially came out for phone calls and other basic tasks – has already shown that it can do impressive things and we don’t have to go far to prove it.
In February this year, the singer Lady Gaga released a clip recorded entirely with an iPhone 11 Pro, in an action by Apple. Of course, the device alone was not enough for a production of that size, so the film crew also had the help of drones and stabilizers. What’s more, the native camera was not fully responsible for the project, because, according to the producers, the scenes were filmed with Filmic Pro, an application available for iOS that costs R $ 54.90.
I think we already have enough creativity and different possibilities to do whatever we want with the cell phone, be it a movie, an advertisement, or a clip like that of Lady Gaga. I think it’s more than proven that you can do it, yes, with little recourse, you can do a lot of good things.
There is no way to talk about the evolution of photography and cell phones with multiple cameras without forgetting to mention the editing tools, which we can also call applications.
VSCO, Adobe Lightroom, Snapseed and InShot are among the most popular for both Android and iPhone users. After all, why open Photoshop or Premiere if you can make simple and complex edits on your mobile device?
In the Apple ecosystem, for example, FaceApp was the 7th most downloaded app among the free ones in Brazil in 2019. Among the paid apps, the list is longer: Facetune was the 2nd most downloaded, 8mm Vintage Camera appears in 7th , Camera + at 11 ° and DSLR Camera at 14 °.
On Android, Google does not disclose a list like Apple, but just access the Play Store to get an idea that among the most popular there are many dedicated to photography and video.
The better the phones are, the better the apps get and, yes, you can do whatever you want. There are unbelievable things that, with one click, [o aplicativo] crop an entire image for you. Before it took hours to do in Photoshop and now, with one click, with Artificial Intelligence, the application cuts you out, removes the background (…) There is an application that removes your face and puts yours in place.
There are still social networks that encourage the production of photos and videos, such as Instagram, TikTok and the ignored Snapchat. Since last year, Samsung, for example, has been associating the cameras present in its models with the creation of content. The same is true of LG, which joined the wave and launched in June three K series devices with four lenses. Macro and ultrawide lenses are the most popular today in new smartphones, just like the depth sensor.
According to DxOMark, a famous laboratory that evaluates and reveals the best cameras in cell phones, the Xiaomi Mi 10 Ultra is considered the best cell phone for photographs, at least until September 2020. The device received high marks in all evaluation points : color, exposure, texture, zoom, depth, among others.
In fact, if you want to know more about DxOMark and understand how they choose the best cell phone camera, Paulo Barba, our audiovisual editor, has already explained everything in full video here Tecnoblog.
The Mi 10 Ultra not only impresses with the high notes of DxOMark. This device has four cameras, the main one being 48 megapixels, an ultrawide 20 megapixels, a periscope of 48 megapixels and another telephoto lens of 12 megapixels.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra and Motorola Edge + are also well positioned in the ranking. But is it possible for the consumer to easily understand each lens on the device and the features offered?
This is an interesting thing. Does the consumer know there what the functions of these multiple cameras are? We know, for example, that resolution and megapixels people already have a good understanding of: the higher the resolution, the greater the number of megapixels, the better the quality of your photo, the more you will be able to enlarge your photo.
In the part of multiple cameras, we work with a more educational part of showing what are the real benefits, what are the resources you have on a smartphone with four cameras, what can you do with an ultrawide, what can you do can do with a macro camera.
For the future, will we have five, six, seven or ten lenses? It is not yet possible to have a concrete answer to this question, but one word can already sum up what we can expect: improvement.
The future is also very much in line with Artificial Intelligence (…) Cameras have so many features, but few consumers use all these features. [Se] has Artificial Intelligence and, for example, you are in a low light environment, [o celular] makes the suggestion to activate Night Vision, you are getting too close to an object and the camera already makes you the suggestion to switch to the macro sensor, you have only one person being framed and he automatically makes the suggestion to enable portrait mode .
And you, reader, risk saying how the future will be? Do you agree with the interviewees’ position? So share your opinion here in the comments.