#676. Monday Post (11 Dec 2017) – De Laude iPhone

By pascaljappy | Monday Post

Dec 11

In 1492, German Renaissance abbot Johannes Trithemius took a break from his numerous fields of research to write his “De Laure Scriptorum” (in praise of scribes) letter, to defend the (then) dying breed of scribes, whose expertise (knowing how to read and write) had been battered into redundancy for decades by one Johannes Gutenberg.

The irony of this is that Trithemius had the letter printed on one of Gutenberg’s movable type presses.



A similar phenomenon is happening to photography. Has been for the best part of a decade. Has been discussed several times in these pages. Is taking the photo world by storm like a force that no amount of whining will stop. I’m talking, of course, of smartphone photography.

This week-end, our co-author Adrian spotted this interesting stat : iPhone takes top rank as Flickr’s most used camera.

Quoting from the article:

“According to [Flickr] data, the iPhone ranks as the most popular camera with 54 percent of photographers using devices from Apple — more than all the other traditional camera companies combined. In general, phones captured 50 percent of the photos uploaded to Flickr. Other camera types like DSLR, point-and-shoot and mirrorless came in at 33 percent, 12 percent and 4 percent respectively”

This quote invites a whole lot of questions about the users of Flickr as the 4% of mirrorless representation is distinctly at odds with the market of these past years. But the real kicker is that iPhones (all models) alone amount to more than all other camera brands combined. Smartphone photography isn’t a fad, it’s there to stay and it’s changing the landscape forever.



And, yes, we can complain about the loss of photographic quality, the armies of selfie-sticks and the rudeness of some tourists uneducated to the subtleties and etiquette of ‘real photographers’. But none of it would be founded or useful.

Because when a tide is rising, you don’t fight it. You align or you lose. And because the two seemingly opposite forks of any such technological revolution are in fact very complementary forces for progress. One, on an individual level, the other as a mass-lifter of all boats.

There’s a vast amount of … well, crap … on the Internet. Videos of kittens that will drain your day, false opinions, unresearched guru claims, ranting, deliberate manipulation … it’s all there. The easier it is to do something (or, put another way, the lower the barrier to entry) the more trash you’ll find associated with it. It’s part of our nature to be seduced by the easy and the spectacular and it’s to be expected that some, many, will take the sleazy way to anything new.

But there’s also an amount of knowledge, inspiration and wisdom that’s unprecedented in human history. What you chose to make of it is a personal decision.



Gutenberg’s movable type press had a similar effect as the Internet and Smartphone cameras (each with different levels of historical significance, obviously). Here’s what all-knowing wikipedia has to say about it :

In Renaissance Europe, the arrival of mechanical movable type printing introduced the era of mass communication, which permanently altered the structure of society. The relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities. The sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism, and accelerated by the development of European vernacular languages, to the detriment of Latin‘s status as lingua franca.

The movable type press made the mass production of printed materials possible, and helped the dissemination of knowledge, literacy as well as propaganda, throughout the socioeconomic classes. It drastically reduced the cost of mass communication much like the Internet drastically reduced the cost of mass social.

But here’s what Johannes Trithemium had to say about scribes :

The printed book is made of paper and, like paper, will quickly disappear. But the scribe working with parchment ensures lasting remembrance for himself and for his text.

He goes on to explain that work is better than idleness for any man, that copy is the best form of work, that the copying of texts helps learn them and become proficient in their practice … Basically, he describes the benefits of copying to the scribes as opposed to the benefits of the press to society as a whole.



And the same goes for photography today.

The benefits of searching for photographic perfection are largely individual. Working on your photography is working on yourself. It is tool-independent. It is self-centered learning, experimenting and digesting of feedback.

The benefits of the Smartphone are largely collective. Social. Flickr’s stat is doubly interesting because iPhones, until recently, were often quite poor cameras compared to the competition. That didn’t stop social sharing from becoming one of the strongest forces in fun and marketing alike, or amateurs to come to the help of professional journalists, or artists to experiment in many directions. The social benefits of iPhones and other camera-phone brands are just beginning to show but have already made dents in history.



Of course, you can argue that the millions of tourists that flock to famous places donning selfie sticks and getting in the way of ‘real photographers’ are a nuisance. And that 90% of smartphotographs are poor. It’s a fact that all forms of disruptions have to break a lot of established things before they pave the way for something new, often better.

Mainstream media still haven’t recovered from selling their souls to Facebook and falling for the lure of cheap traffic and slaughtering editorial standards on the altar of volume. But new media have emerged to take their place or show them the way. Blogs such as this one, collaborative sites, platforms such as Medium …

Amazon has killed off many brick and mortar shops, created armies of human-robots and burned out entire squadrons of freshly-minted MBAs.

AirBnB hurt the hotel business badly but provided Jo tourist with far better accommodation options and home-owners with more diversified money-making options.

Tesla (who’s real disruption is carpooling, not electric power) will likely destroy Über (buy a Tesla and a token in a blockchain, and who needs über ??) and taxis but will provide transportation who people who can’t afford it.

The fact is that scribes died but calligraphy isn’t dead. The societal role of scribes are purveyors of knowledge was an extremely inefficient one, from an economic stand point. But the artistic and personal-growth roles still thrive today.

And some photographers may be suffering from the emergence of the Smartphone tourist but maybe it’s their fault for even considering the famous places themselves in the first place ? Maybe this new revolution will force them to rethink their craft for the better ? That, or be swept away by the tide …



I’ll let someone more expert than I on scribes and printing presses conclude on the matter of iPhones.

Trithemius’s treatise in praise of scribes—or, literally,‘hand-writers’—does not survive in manuscript but in printed form,since it was published in 1494 […] But the paradox may be moreseeming than real, since Trithemius himself was no foe of printedbooks. In his balanced appreciation of old and new technologies, heconstitutes an exemplary role model for us in our own time of transition.



An update on the collaborative “Let there be Light project”

Let me extend my thanks to those who have sent their photographs and ideas to help build this project. Some are really superb and  will help paint a far broader picture that I would have been able to alone.

Those of you who expressed interest in sharing some stuff but have not been able to yet can still do so this week. WeTransfer and Dropbox are perfect for sharing photographs. And you can use my address (pascal dot jappy at gmail dot com) or comments or the contact form (top right corner of this website) to share thoughts and text.

On Friday, 15th, I’ll close the gate so we can start structuring what has come and publish articles over the following weeks. The project will take the form of a series of short articles all grouped under a table of contents page which will be made public when all the articles have been posted.

Topics already in the list : quality of light (temperature, hardness, transparency …) exposure (long, short, ETTR or not …) light in composition, light in mood. Other ideas welcome.


Gates close on the 15th. Anything to share / contribute ?


Email: subscribed: 4
  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    If you are suggesting that I should stop wailing about cellphones, junk the Otuses and spend the money on an iphone, I shall quote your own words back at you, Pascal:

    “The easier it is to do something (or, put another way, the lower the barrier to entry) the more trash you’ll find associated with it. It’s part of our nature to be seduced by the easy and the spectacular and it’s to be expected that some, many, will take the sleazy way to anything new.”

    Sleazy, I leave to the sleazes. I drink wine and champagne, not beer and Coca-Cola.

    Cellphones – and the lack of manners of many of their owners – bring to mind the answer given by an elderly lady, when asked what she thought of homosexuality, and she replied “I don’t care what they do, so long as they don’t do it on the street and frighten the horses”.

    Cellphone junkies have their addictions, I have mine. The end.

    BTW – those statistics relate solely to their source – Flickr. I cannot imagine they include the wealth of photographs out there taken on “real cameras” by professional photographers and millions of amateurs (serious or otherwise) around the world. Of course, in saying so, I must also concede that they don’t include the zillions of photos taken by cellphone owners who’ve either never heard of Flickr or wouldn’t bother posting photos there, either.

    PS – are we to understand from your photos that you are having a white Christmas, Pascal?

    PPS – not playing with the lighting – can’t – my world is being upended over the next three days, with the conversion of this place from ADSL to the national broadband network. Yes, we do have one – rather flaky and nowhere near as good as everyone else’s, but once they come down your street, you have three options – switch to satellite based telephony (cellphones again – sigh!) or lose your connection altogether after the expiry of 3 months, or jump headfirst into the mud and sign up for the broadband network. They have been so disorganized in the lead-up to this that I feel like murdering them when they arrive to make the connection.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Ha ha. Nope I wasn’t targeting you but sure hoped you’d reply 😀 😀 😀

      Thing is I don’t think you have to give up the Otus to pick up a phone. You can use both (as on this page) for slightly different vibes. Like having champers in a caviar bar and coke in a pizzeria. Both are fun 🙂

      We *were* having a very white Christmas. It was magical when we woke up on a Saturday morning to that thick blacket of snow, that quiet ambiance of falling snow and the cracking sounds of shoes and animals being the first to crumple the delicate layer. Now, it’s pooring down with rain in howling winds and not a trace of snow is left to be seen. Still, we’ve been promised more in the coming weeks. Should be fun.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I’m beginning to wonder whether we’re about to join you, Pascal. Being closer to the equator than most, our “summer” is one of [basically] two seasons we have each year – a longer winter, without a proper autumn or spring, and a longer summer. And on this side of the equator, that means summer should have been well under way by October. It wasn’t. It still isn’t. And outside there’s a storm raging tonight, with more promised for tomorrow. Will we – can we – have a white Christmas, for the first time since the last ice age? Who knows?
        In the meantime, all the cameras are being told to stay indoors while it’s raining. None of them are properly weather sealed and, despite the price, the Otus’s are not weather sealed at all.
        So this afternoon we trimmed the Christmas tree. It’s simple (sort of). Years ago, Royal Copenhagen started issuing a Christmas ornament each year and, despite being taken over in the meantime, their new owner (Georg Jensen) has continued the tradition. My favourite aunt (married to a Dane) put me onto this – she had all the Royal Copenhagen Christmas plates, starting from right back at the very beginning and, with the aid of her husband’s cousins, even the ones issued during the War. (To my generation, “the War” means WW2). So – the only ornaments on our tree are the RC/GJ Christmas ornaments – and I have one for each year that I have known my wife. 35 of them is quite enough for the tree.
        The other excitement of the day was the new coffee shop across the street – directly opposite my front door. The owners are the nicest people you could imagine – and their staff is just as nice. The 55mm Otus has been in hot demand today – with shots of the coffee shop and the Christmas tree. Just as I was leaving the coffee shop, I spotted a rather incredible flower that I hadn’t noticed when I came in – at first I thought it must be a Scotch thistle (over to Bob – I’ve never been to Scotland – the only scottish ancestors I can lay claim to described it as perishing cold and swore they’d never go back there). But no – turns out it was a gigantic artichoke flower – MOST impressive – had to photograph that too, and cursed myself for not taking a tripod across the street, but of course the shots I’d been taking were in the nature of “street photography” and I never use a ‘pod for that!
        If you have one Pascal, tell me – does a selfie stick qualify as a monopod for a cellphone? ;? 🙂

  • Fabrizio Giudici says:

    Interesting the reference to Trithemius… Which make me re-formulate my most important objection on phone-based photography, which is the damage that can be done to the education and the understanding of photography as an art.

    The basic point is that movable types dramatically cut down the reproduction costs, at the expense of aesthetics: the first gear for typesetting was in no way capable to reproduce the delicacy of calligraphy, including decorations and colours. It’s quite evident if one looks e.g. at miniatures. But the fact that this technological evolution happened “slowly” (in comparison with the speed of modern time) and the fact that writing at the time was in any case something related to educated men, kept the sensibility for the aesthetic quality of handwriting, and in the end technology evolved so that most of these features could be included in more sophisticated equipment.

    The scenario repeated a few decades ago, when electronic typing was introduced: we first had to do with fixed-width fonts reproduced on 8×8 dot printers, but the technology evolved in a way that everything was previously done in the typographic field was doable in an electronic way: variable-width fonts, up to TrueType fonts, including ligatures – which at first look like an optional luxury, in the end are very important if you want to keep a harmonious visual rhythm in printed words. The evolution happened much faster than the Gutemberg innovation, but still slowly enough not to disrupt the typographic art – perhaps because the number of people involved with electronic writing, at the beginning, was relatively low, and when the thing involved masses it had already incorporated most of the typographic tradition.

    I’m not sure that the same thing will happen again: the “revolution” pace is even faster and we have masses involved right now. When I see e.g. readers’ photos about the latest meteo event, such as the current snow storms, published on major newspapers, and they lack the most basic horizon straightening and decent cropping (not counting the not so infrequent blatant under-exposure involved with snowy landscapes, in spite of the allegedly smart exposure systems), I’m more and more persuaded something is going wrong.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Fabrizio,

      good points. The quicker pace of disruptions is probably making the replacement technology more different to the previous than before. But I think the important point is that the artistic value of using a technology doesn’t go away when one comes along that makes much more economic sense. There will be less formally educated photographers, far more of them, but many others will continue to train in a classical way and, more importantly, others will develop new aesthetics.

      Also, your point about under-exposure is very true. Very often, we don’t go to the same post-processing lengths with out phone shots as with our classical camera photographs. The ease of capture makes us more lazy. The first 4 photos on this article are made with my camera. White balance was all over the place and I corrected it to make the photo look like what my eyes saw. But the last 4 are just straight out of camera, coming from my Galaxy S6. They are more accurate out of camera but I didn’t make the effort to get the best out of them and that’s a shame. They feel too warm.

      Ah well, time will tell 😉

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    The distinction is really between the “photographers” (us) and the “snappers” (them).

    We know all about aperture,dof, bokeh, megapixels and so on and practice our “craft”. They snap away and from time to time take nice shots. For an old fogey like me ( a self styled “photographer”) a fair comparison is between a 1970’s SLR user and a Kodak Instamatic.

    They got shots we took pictures. The hardest part is to accept that there are no constants and the easiest is to embrace change and to have fun using these ”toys’ while we argue the relative merits of mirrorless and DSLR cameras 🙂

    • pascaljappy says:

      Yes, exactly. We don’t have to embrace all change but the ability to see potential good in novelty is important. Particularly when novelty feels like it’s dragging quality down, but can actually lead to something better, in other ways than the traditional measure. That’s the essence of disruption in business and I don’t see why it would be any different in arts.

      • Adrian says:

        Your words just made me think of Polaroid.
        It was a product aimed at the mass market with it’s instant sensibilities, not dis-similar to digital photography and social media now.
        However, there were plenty of photographers who use the medium creatively, and those Polaroid land cameras with large format films took wonderful photos.
        As you say, it’s about seeing the potential where it’s interesting or appropriate.

        • pascaljappy says:

          I wish we could have some sort of Polaroid-type device to instantly print out what our phones have taken. Something largeish in format (though not size), a print the size of the phone screen, and with a strong look.

  • Adrian says:

    Random thoughts, as ever.

    I think the popularity of the iPhone as a camera amongst those who think they are a photographer is largely down to Apple’s smart marketing. People believe you can take a billboard-worthy photo because Apple tell them so, and let’s not get bogged down in the unpleasantness of actually seeing how the photo was taken (on a gimbal, with a secondary lens, with electronic control) nor the amount of professional post processing to create the “billboard-worthy” result. That’s not to say that iPhone cameras are bad, they have become just as good at automated post processing as some of the other brand leaders such as Samsung, LG and others. As usual, Apple offer little real innovation, just a lot of their recent “me too”-ness and some fancy marketing to make customers feel good about it. Arguably, Nokia took camera phones to places that few others have with products like their “PureView” camera, but internet “journalism” (I use the term loosely – more like PR press release fluff fanboyism) soon forgers.

    None of the above detracts from the sheer popularity of camera phones, which we discussed and explored recently here at DS.

    As for Tesla, another discourse. It’s often reported Elon Musk is a “billionaire”. As far as I can tell, he’s not, he made a few tens of millions of dollars from his sale of Paypal, and therefore much of his current empire is built on investment and debt. I don’t believe battery powered cars that have to be recharged are the future, and indeed in spite of much unsubstantiated hype (think internet fanboy journalism again), Tesla has made no advances in battery technology, they just pack the chemicals more densely inside the batteries. Lithium Ion batteries are generally regarded as both very environmentally damaging, made from really unpleasant stuff, and with very long worldwide supply chains to mine and process their raw materials, and also dangerous – just think of Richard Hammond’s widely reported electric supercar crash where the batteries short circuited and he was nearly burnt to death in the resulting fire. And nobody mention Samsung in the same breath as batteries. That the UK government gives large grants to subsidise very rich individuals buying extremely expensive cars that are out of the reach of most buyers in nonsense, and shows how badly thought through most of the electric car business is with policy makers. In Australia, I read a report on the government spending hundred of millions on a new highway equipped with charging points when there are only about 600 electric cars in the country. Even policy makers have been taken in by the hype of the current bubble that will surely burst soon, as frankly Tesla are years away from ever coming close to making a profit making cars, and their “affordable” model is about 2.5x the cost of the average American car.

    My point, if there is one, is that we seem to live through times where hyperbole, PR fluff and lazy journalism make even Governments believe, yet recent history shows us that these types of bubbles tend to burst, and badly. I don’t think cameras will make a come back for general consumers, but camera phones can’t replace interchangeable lens cameras as a fixed 28mm equivalent can’t do the same things as other focal lengths and apertures. Every time I’ve seen software imitate the effect of using a “proper” camera, the results have generally been quite poor. The continuing challenge of the camera industry is to innovate and make products that differentiate themselves enough to be compelling and have benefits over the convenience of the smartphone.

    However, you can’t stop progress (nor am I suggesting trying to) – but be careful which horse you bet on.

    • pascaljappy says:

      All of this is interesting.

      First of all, I think and have written often, that phone makers are making a huge mistake trying to make their onboard cameras more like traditional cameras (RAW, increased ISO). It’s NOT what what has drawn the crowds to them. And yes, Apple are showing pretty pictures alledgedly made with their phones (when you get close up, the quality is really shoddy, by the way) but that’s probably just to prove the world they are not the worst cameras around (which they were at some price point). What drew the crowds is the social layer and that’s clearly what should be pushed ahead. Not with gimmicky face animal-layer games (can’t remember the name) but through more empowering tools for sharing and building stuff together. That’s where the world is heading and that’s what phones excel at.

      Musk’s universe is a big domino set. If anything goes wrong in his profitable businesses (I think Space X is doing really well), the rest will fall. Tesla is just one step of the ladder for this very peculiar man, who sees life as some sort of Matrix. Governments are subsidising whatever is hip, these days. You should see the huge startup factories we have in France these days. It’s all very wrong and unnatural but natural and politics never marry well. What I like about Tesla is the solar tiles. The promise is that those will charge your car. But none of this is a disruption, that’s just incremental technical improvement. What Tesla is really disrupting is actual ownership of a car. Musk’s vision is that a few people will own cars that will serve them a few minutes a day then go one to serve others autonomously. He’s paving the way for an AirBnB of cars. That’s why you see german incumbents so slow to pick up on electric but so eager to test car rental schemes. They know Tesla can break them with that.

      And I think phones will do the same to the imaging world. Traditionally, we’ve taken our shots, developed them, printed them, framed them, hung them up in our homes. A few artists have changed the last part by getting their pictures to hang in other people’s homes. I’m pretty sure this will change and pictures will no longer follow such an individual process. One day, I’ll be in Spain and you’ll make me take a picture of something, which Bob will process with AI and Philippe will print. Or something like that. I dunno. But that’s where my R&D money would be.


      • Adrian says:

        Pascal, in recent years it has often seemed to me that one of the issues with companies and the capitalist systems them operate in is that they always have to grow – have more revenue and more profit year on year to keep investors and shareholders happy. This often seems to result in companies growing by expanding into new markets, often which they have no experience in, and often via joint venture with established players in those markets. Examples would be the UK supermarkets, who now sell energy, insurance, and mobile phones. It all makes a small amount of additional profit, but they are not markets that those companies have experience in, and therefore it doesn’t play to the core competencies of those businesses. It can also be difficult to stretch brand values into those new markets, so the value of the brand and the feelings of trust with customers can be difficult to maintain.

        What has this to do with camera phones? Well, as you say, it seems as if the phone makers are trying to make their cameras be all things to all people, and it may be a difficult challenge to take those existing selfie snappers with them if the cameras become too complex and have too many options. A couple of months ago I witnessed friends discussing Apple’s “portrait mode” over dinner, where most of the iPhone owners didn’t even know about it’s existence (in fairness, most of them had phones that wouldn’t run the software, no doubt a deliberate act by Apple). You are right that sharing on social media has been one of the most powerful forces to a segment of the general buying public, although I think you are underestimating those Apps that put animal faces etc onto the live view camera feed, as in some markets they seem very popular!

        It’s funny that where I have seen Apps and tools developed to help create “stories”, they haven’t been successful to date – although the ones I have seen were on the Windows platform, so no doubt Samsung or similar will eventually release some similar “innovation” and make it popular.

        The car business is interesting, and I think the “movements” (we haven’t really seen “change” yet) has taken many of the incumbents (mostly the American ones) by surprise, so they now try to play catch-up. There are plenty of new players borrowing a lot of money to try and create self driving cars, but as Tesla has found, building cars can be an expensive and messy business, and I suspect ultimately once the technology is available the established car makers will simply partner with the expensive start-ups to actually manufacture the cars. Having said all that, I do challenge the current notion that car ownership will decline and cars will be shared and go off to do other things – people really like owning cars, there is a lot of emotion wrapped up in those purchases and what they say about us, and if we all wanted shared cars we would all be using taxis all the time.

        I am convinced Elon Musk’s empire is mostly a house of cards just waiting to collapse – at which point a lot of other people will lose a lot of money. We seem to live in times where PR hyperbole surpasses any critical analysis of what is on offer, and journalists, the public and even governments eagerly accept it and offer outstretched hands full of money. Recent technology company history has plenty of examples of the new big thing which is then quietly mothballed a few years later, never to be seen again. I think in some way this will be the next big bubble to burst.

        It’s interesting that Apple are widely rumoured to be researching self-driving cars. It’s unfathomable why they would want to do so – there are already plenty of other very big players in that developing market, and it’s hard to see what the Apple brand adds to that, except perhaps some vacuous PR cool. Admittedly, they have plenty of cash to fund it, but making cars is generally a fairly dirty, unpleasant business with fairly low margins, and the opposite of the shiny expensive high margin baubles that Apple currently sell.

        Photography is a mostly solitary pursuit, and what you suggest is interesting. Post capture, almost all the software and tools available are also aimed at individual use, and there are few options I can think of for collaborative working on images.

        • pascaljappy says:

          Yeah, Musk is a storyteller extraordinaire. He paints his vision of the world in ways that seduce many people and is selling promises more than finished products. He can probably make it, but it does seem like a very fragile edifice.

          I think one main difference between apps is that some offer a “closed-world” experience (a limited set of features, like painting a cat on your face …) and others open up possibilities. Obviously, I prefer the second type but, at the same type, they are more difficult to use and sell. Because the instant gratification of seeing yourself like a panting dog carries a more powerful marketing promise for the masses than anything that merely plays the role of an enabler. I’m not a big fan of social media at all (heck the social sharing buttons on this website don’t even work 😉 ) but do think that anything social resonates deep inside many people and that social enablers will lead to interesting development, if given a chance. We’ll see 😉

          Apple are researching cars? Wow! That is indeed a surprise. I suppose cars will probably soon become data collectors, but why not stick to building apps such as Waze??? Maybe Apple are doing their research on actual cars (not their use as data collectors) to start of joint venture with Tesla or some other company. It would take them many expensive years to catch up with existing players, don’t you think?

          • Adrian says:

            re: Apple cars. I would strongly hope that they are not serious about actually making cars, but instead looking at ways to integrate Apple technology (firmware, OS, Apps etc) into cars, perhaps extending that to include self driving technology. I appreciate that they are VERY cash rich, but I just don’t see ANY financial benefit to them or their brand in actually trying to make and sell Apple cars. I would say you can’t charge 2.5x the going rate for a car in the same way you can for a phone, but then Tesla do, but to a very small market (and with HUGE problems actually being able to deliver mass market orders and a mountain of debt to create the factory to do it). Although the future seems to have surprised a number of the established car makers who weren’t prepared for the future, I don’t believe most of them won’t be able to adapt, and if they can’t they will probably get another huge bailout from the US Government. I find the current vogue for various makers rushing to announce their ranges will be all electric by some near future date amusing but misguided, as electric cars simply don’t meet the needs of many/most consumers and the way in which we use transport, and I am convinced it is an interim technology until a better replacement comes along. Honda has a trial of hydrogen powered production cars in California (Honda Clarity), and I am convinced that alternative fuels that don’t require cars to be charged is a much better long term solution (assuming some incredible innovation in battery technology doesn’t come along soon). There are several companies making moves to get their technology into transport, and I would be surprised if Apple and Microsoft are not looking at that market, but I don’t see any benefit to either of them in actually making cars. If you want to keep your company moving and need to re-invent it, it’s better to go “up” the technology chain (Nokia went from timber yards to telecoms company), not down. Making cars is a grubby expensive low margin business that makes no sense for a phone or OS maker to try and do themselves.

  • NMc says:

    I honestly don’t try to be contrary, but I respectfully think your logic is a bit off.

    When the printing press was invented there were no cheap and accessible written word alternatives. Digital photography did not appear until after film photography was cheap accessible. Phone photography did not get established until after compact cameras were inexpensive and had surpassed the IQ of early DSLR’s. When smart phones were invented they were much more expensive than a better compact camera plus a good quality non-smart phone, and both were easier or better to use for their primary purpose.

    I would argue that it was the development of mobile operating systems and tablets that was the real digital culture changer. It introduced and popularised the use of the simple, single purpose app, and much more mobility. This displaced the computer with their cumbersome operating systems for many people. It was the popularity of tablets and the development of better app’s that introduced the non-telephone use of phones to masses. The camera is now essential for smart phones, but it was the light operating systems that were the digital game changer.

    If I was going to make a comparison I think that phone-cams to photography is analogous to the introduction of email, more words sent at much lower level of thought or skill compared to what was done with snail mail (or a fax), but much faster communication was possible. Regardless of all that, your conclusions still stand, are thought provoking, and pleasantly positive as well.

    I am looking forward to your monochrome follow up to the colour processing article.
    Thanks Noel

    • pascaljappy says:

      Hi Noel, in this instance, I think the cost is complexity, not financial cost. Phones have made photography simpler. Digital cameras had already eliminated the need for chemical labs, but replaced that complexity with the digital process (computers, post processing software, printers …). While none of this is cheap, it is most of all complicated and cumbersome for some. The phone is like a polaroid on steroids, click – review – share. This has led to lowered quality in most cases, but also to different approaches that build on other qualities.

      On a separate, ranty note, it baffles me that no camera maker has tried to emulate the simplicity of phones when it comes to reviewing, in camera editing, instant sharing and commenting … They are digging their own grave.

      Ah, the monochrome article. Ahem, I’d forgotten that one !! I’ll mublish it mid week then 😉

      All the best,

      • Adrian says:

        A friend and I who were both Minolta SLR users both joked that where the company went wrong was that they never stuck a mobile phone onto the side of their cameras.

        I think it’s fair to say that only Samsung, with their Galaxy camera, and Sony, with their in-camera “Play Memories” apps, have tried to integrate social media etc with their cameras.

        If those features were built into cameras, then ideally they would also need a cellular connection, with the associated cost. Otherwise, you need to tether your camera to something with an internet connection, which brings us to my final point.

        Since almost every camera user also has a smart phone, I think the better option that several brands now offer is to allow pictures to be transferred from camera to phone to then be edited and posted to social media – it removes all the additional complexity from the camera (I for one certainly don’t want Android anywhere near any camera I own).

        • NMc says:

          Adrian and Pascal
          Re apps; I am not sure if phone apps are the right way for the better cameras (with the exception of low res jpegs for social, and possibly geo spatial tagging). The higher IQ camera apps should be for tablets and computers, something that provides a little bit more computing grunt and most importantly a bigger screen to help appreciate what the camera is capable of. I think that Fujifilm may be introducing an app where you tether your camera to the PC and use the in-camera raw conversion but control using the computer, it seems a bit odd, but it could be the baby step that gets something happening.
          Regards Noel

  • Steffen says:

    I couldn’t care less about the camera of the next guy. Why do you? And don’t produce Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji … users the same amount of photographic junk? How is there a connection for you, between the camera brand and the amount of unpleasing output?

    In most cases, the Smartphone gets the job done and is available. And can upload photos directly to such social services. Done.

    The more interesting part of the story is that only 4% of the photos are from MILCs. How’s that, Sony and Fuji elite? Btw. this reflects my observations in the real world. And yes, you can still take excellent images with these dinosaurs.

    • pascaljappy says:

      Well, I don’t think we do care. It’s just an interesting stat, which proves that smartphone photography is here to stay. And that it’s driven, at least on Flickr, by a type of phone that’s never been knowned for its great imaging quality, which probably shows that other aspects of phone photography are moving the crowds.

      Sony and Fuji are just MILCing it ? 😉

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