back to article Nokia: digital SLRs are doomed

One of the web's "25 most influential people" says that camera phones will soon make digital SLRs obsolete. "There will be no need to carry around those heavy lenses," Nokia's marketing EVP Anssi Vanjoki told a gathering in Helsinki, according to Reuters. Citing continuing improvements in cameraphone technology, Vanjoki said: " …

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Perhaps he is partially right

The burgeoning mid range DSLR compact is a useful extra for the professional but it puts DSLR technology in the hands of us mere mortals. My Olympus E-620 is superb for what I use it for.

I like it because it is more flexible than a compact and takes great pictures.

However, my daughter recently got a new mobile phone and I have to say that the pictures it takes are really rather good.

I can see the camera phone (and therefore compact camera) making roads into this area.

They will never replace the specialist camera but for most people, a good "snap" is good enough.

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FAIL

Partially as in 0.1 %

"For most people, a good "snap" is good enough."

That's why "most people" do not use SLRs. Also because most people do not have the faintest clue about things like depth of field, "bokeh", and image noise (digital) or grain (film).

Those who don't think a "good snap" is good enough, do.

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obsolete

Obviously the phone cameras will never make traditional cameras obsolete on a technical level. Read in this context, Anssi Vanjoki's statements look pretty idiotic. It is wrong, insulting even, to characterize the camera phones as equivalent in quality.

However from the marketing viewpoint, the market for cheap & poor quality, yet convenient, photography is probably outgrowing professional photography gear by a large measure.

Another thing to note: my current cell phone (a nokia as it were) has a camera on it, but not because I wanted one. The store had zero models in stock without a camera. Anyone using cell phone sales numbers as evidence of customers demand for camera phones would need to consider non-availability of non-camera models.

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Point taken but...

Compact DSLRs are not just marketed at the professional.

They are also about getting pictures in low-light conditions or where there is movement (like sporting events) and for some situations, a phone camera and a lot of compacts just can't cut it.

Just go to a school concert and look at the number of parents with "fancy" cameras. Many are there with their expensive-ish compact DSLRs since that is the only way to get anything that is viewable.

They couldn't give a sh*t about DOF or any other TLAs that you care to quote, they just want some good pics.

What gives them that is the good quality lens, the large, good quality sensor and perhaps image stabilisation. If you can get that from a camera phone then for most of these customers, that will be good enough.

But in the main, I agree, VanJoki is full of sh*t.

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They couldn't give a sh*t about DOF...

... until they actually get to see what it does.

Lots of casual snaps, maybe even the majority, tend to be portraits of some sort. Show anyone a portrait shot with DOF to infinity, and the exact same shot well-focused with shallow DOF - even complete noobs in photographic matters will tend to prefer the latter.

Decent compact cameras have a "portrait" preset for exactly this reason, and can achieve half-decent results. Mobile phone cameras cannot, because they have no optics worth mentioning, and since the tendency for mobile phones is thin - thinner - thinnest, it's unlikely they ever will.

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WTF?

Eh?

Phones can already record HD video and transfer is direct to the TV.

The Samsung Omnia HD for instance: http://omniahd.samsungmobile.com/

I think this guy is a little out of touch with reality in more ways than one!

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Headmaster

Yup

He's not out of touch with reality... insofar as Nokia is concerned (note that the model you linked to is a Samsung... ;) ).

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More and more evidence of widespread idiocy and/or utter cluelessness at Nokia...

...seriously: phone camera vs DSLR?

As a matter of fact DSLRs expected to start to eat into the consumer camcorder market, thanks to better and better video recording capabilities (provided they will fix the current utterly choppy AVCHD codec.)

Even the best phone cameras (SE Satio this year, Samsung Memoir last year) can only match the quality of a good P&S unit and only in daylights/good lighting.

Nokia is badly out of touch, there's more and more evidence they little clue about the direction the mobile market is moving (horrible investments, rather average advanced phones sold as "smartphones", crazy linux-based ideas for phones etc.)

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Pint

At The...

...NAB show, many makers of support devices (booms, steadycams, etc.) showed their rigs with DSLR's rather than traditional video cams.

In the middle, cameras that look like common pocket digital, but ptoduce 14 Megapixels.

beer, because

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More than that

The season finale of a US tv series (House, maybe?) was shot entirely using a Canon 5D MKII which has absolutely incredible HD video quality (presumably because of the quality of the glass in front and the full frame sensor behind). It certainly beats the arse off of my consumer HD camcorder.

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Maemo

> crazy linux-based ideas for phones

I guess you've never tried Maemo then? The N900 is by far the best phone I've ever owned. No it's not perfect, yes it has its own idiosyncrasies and glitches but as a smart phone it kicks arse.

On the other hand, I do agree that other recent Nokia offerings have been very disappointing. That's probably due to bad planning and Nokia finding that the current version of Symbian is now past its sell-by date and badly in need of a revamp, while Maemo is not quite ready for prime-time. Don't discount them quite yet though, at least when it comes to making phones. Now, when it comes to making cameras... I'll keep my DSLR thank you very much.

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Nikon D3S

You should see the high ISO HD video shot by the D3S, I wish I still had the link, they did a side by side comparison with various video capable DSLRs. The D3S has the most amazing ability to see in the dark, and even when there is noise it's far more organic and acceptable than the Canon's.

A room full of professional video cameramen and production staff sat there going "WTF?!!!!"

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WTF?

Yes, good idea

Let us try and turn this into a Nikon v Canon flame war, there aren't enough of them in the photographic forums already.

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JB
WTF?

Worse and worse

Cameraphones and other cheaper digital devices just make me wonder where recording technology - audio, photos and video - is going.

Remember when recording quality was getting better and better: like domestic reel-to-reels with muffly sound developing over the years into chrome dioxide cassetes with lovely sound quality, now we have 128k lossy digital mp3s, but nobody seems to care.

Same with video: used to have an 8mm cine cmera with blurry, wobbly pictures and no sound; then the video camera in a shoulder bag, then stuff like hi-8 and mini DV. What do we have now? Jerky, blocky video taken on a mobile phone, no better than the cine cameras of 40 years ago.

Whatever happened to 'progress'?

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@JB

To be honest, when you think about the earbuds that they listen to their tunage thru', and the itty-bitty screens that they watch their videos on, there is no real point in making the original recording worth listening to or watching on real equipment.

Ever try listening to a favorite old album on the original vinyl[1] back-to-back with the same thing as an MP3 over a high-end audio system? Now ask me why I don't own an MP3 player.

[1] All my vinyl was recorded to half-inch tape on the first or second playing. I make my "working" copies from the tape.

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Masses

<i>Remember when recording quality was getting better and better: like domestic reel-to-reels with muffly sound developing over the years into chrome dioxide cassetes with lovely sound quality, now we have 128k lossy digital mp3s, but nobody seems to care.</i>

See, you remember reel-to-reel and I just remember seeing 8-track and LPs in the 70s. For people that do care, there are plenty of great audio formats now. As for video, how many awful VHS camcorders were sold in the 80s and 90s as opposed to 8mm film?

The masses never really cared about quality.

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WTF?

I don't understand...

Maybe for snaps. And for people who use DSLRs for snaps.

For the rest of us, when Nokia start feeling the pain from Apple, Android, RIM, etc they decide Nikon and Canon are better targets? Go figure?!?!

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Not just

For people who use DSLRs for snaps.

I'd class myself as an advanced snapper (I'm aware of the technicalities and can, if pressed remember how they work together) but even I appreciate the quality of my DSLR over the crappy camera on the Nokia I just trialled and got rid of. Hells, I can produce better pics from my 9 year old Nikon E775 compact(ish) than from my mobile camera.

Whilst technical ability can give you a better picture with any camera, a better camera *can* give a better picture to most people.

After trialling the Nokia X6 a month back and being massively disappointed, I can honestly say I don't think I'll ever bother with Nokia again so it comes as no surprise that their staff make idiot comments like that.

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FAIL

Anyone who uses SLRs knows it's all about the lenses

Camera Phones are a decent replacement for compact cameras, but will never replace SLRs.

The man is a fool.

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Anonymous Coward

No they are not!

My 5mp phone camera is absolute rubbish compared to my 4-year-old Canon 5Mpx camera. Oddly, it takes superb close-ups, but is useless for any scene bigger than a room.

Even the hardly-any-pixels stills that my old camcorder takes are better than phone pics.

One day, yes... and I look forward to it... but I don;t think that day is in site yet.

Like you say: the man's a fool. Maybe he never took any photographs!

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Because...

Laws of physics - utter bastards. That teensy lens on the camera phone is like a diffraction grating. Let's not get into the cross photosite interference from the poxy little sensor.

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FAIL

Heh

Nope.

Ye cannae change the laws of physics.

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FAIL

Um, no.

I know he's pushing their products, but it's painfully obvious the guy knows bugger all about cameras and photography if that's really what he believes. By extension, neither does Nokia unless he's gone rogue PR on them.

Now if I'm going to buy a camera, even one built into a phone, I'm not going to buy it from a company this clueless about cameras.

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Thus neatly proving ...

that Marketing isn't really aware of how technology works.

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FAIL

Smart people need to learn how to keep their mouths shut.

Sure - For the masses, crappy pictures may be acceptable but for anyone who owns an SLR today will continue appreciate the huge quality difference of an SLR and its lenses over a camera phone.

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Boffin

DoF

Depth of Field

You get that with big sensors and big lenses.

Classroom Experiment:

Try taking a picture with a point and shoot at maximum aperture (minimum number).

Now, take the same picture with a modern SLR, set to its maximum aperture.

This is a big reason why medium-format backs are so hot for product shooters. They are big-ass sensors, and big-ass (expen$ive) glass.

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Grenade

Starts with 'M'

The key word in the article is "Marketing". It starts with the same letter as "Moron".

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Joke

M-O-O-N

That spells "Marketing"

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Well he has a point

I don't know how many readers of the Reg are Flickr users but a quick look at the camera finder function reveals what the good Mr Vanjoki is really worried about. There is another very popular camera phone which at the moment seems unstoppable, Not the Regs' favourite phone but scary for anyone in the camera phone business as it's only going to get better (or worse) depending on how one views these things.

For those who are not Flickr members or can't be bothered to look. The most popular camera on Flickr is the Apple iPhone (yes that was camera) As for smartphones.. "Don't even go zerr" it's not pretty..

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Lies, damn lies and flickr statistics

The flickr camera finder function provides stats as a percentage of members, which is very misleading. How many members use several cameras and therefore contribute more than once to the stats? I for one use 3 on a regular basis: a camera phone, a decent compact and a DSLR. Even when this is taken into account, I would argue that popularity based on the number of pictures taken by a particular model of camera, rather than the number of members who own that camera is actually a more relevant statistic.

But even assuming that the flickr statistics are actually meaningful, you can't fail to notice that even though the iPhone 3G is the first camera model based on the number of members that own it, the following 4 models are all DSLR. This would tend to confirm the analysis of a number of people here: the camera phone is no real threat to the DSLR but rather to the point and shoot compact.

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FAIL

gah

Well, given that Nokia seem to have forgotten how to make mobile phones that don't fall to bits or lock up, and whose backups actually f'king finish rather than fail with no reason given, I am not sure how far I'd trust them with other forms of technology.

Grr.

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IR

Well

It's like saying that the motorbike will replace cars.

I can see compact cameras dying out since people won't want to carry both, but not an SLR.

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Anonymous Coward

Yet another prediction of the end of the SLR

my guess Nokia will die first

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FAIL

And in other news

The availability of the Sinclair C5 causes Aston Martin, Morgan, and Range rover to go out of business.

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Coat

Well...

Morgan and Rover have gone out of business.

And AM is looking a bit shaky.

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Flame

Bah

Spoken like a true photographic illiterate.

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WTF?

You can just imagine it...

Imagine all the press hacks jockeying for position at some event or other, thrusting their latest N99 or whatever at the assembled celebs, or the sports mob entrenched behind the goal at Wembley, forsaking their fully weatherproof Eos1D MkIV's and fast 300mm L series lenses etc (Say £7000 of kit?) for a camera phone. I suspect not.

JB. As for Chrome Dioxide tapes having lovely sound quality? Nakamichi Dragon or the like to play them on or not, even I'd rather have MP3. MP3 over vinyl, that's different!

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Headmaster

Nano dots and liquid lenses

The mobile phone market brings volume and while mobile phones will never replace high-end they are already attracting lots of R&D due to their unique constraints. Lenses don't have to be large and heavy and censors don't have to be large.

http://www.economist.com/science-technology/displaystory.cfm?story_id=15865270

Not that most people will care but many of these innovations will start in the phone and move up to the SLR.

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Boffin

Yes the do have to be large

Diffraction only quits being a problem in the near field (as in NSOM (Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopes)). Otherwise -> big surface area = better S/N + better resolution (if properly corrected by whatever means). Improvements can be made in weight/bulk, but aperture is irreplaceable.

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@well

>It's like saying that the motorbike will replace cars

No cos motorbikes are better than cars !

It's like saying segways will replace cars cos they have smaller wheels!

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FAIL

Really?

"No cos motorbikes are better than cars !"

Really? Tell you what, I'll race you then. The race is to get a wardrobe from Ashford to Maidstone. I'll take my Focus Estate 1.6. Bet I win.

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Happy

At what time and conditions ?

Rush hours perhaps ?

he he he

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N2

Nokia

Dont make DSLRs do they? just like Cannon & Nikon dont make telephones

Just as relevant for Nikon to state the telephone as we know it is doomed

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DSLR

I'd never use a telephone camera for anything but emergencies. The 'big lenses' are there for a reason - basically they are needed for capturing quality images. I've never seen a mobile phone picture that was anything but crap, in terms of resolution, quality of capture or anything else. Phones are great for the simpletons who only want snaps of their drunken friends on drunken nights out, but for true photography... I still carry a wonderful old Pentax 35mm manual camera as well as my Fuji DSLR. The weight is worth it.

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Happy

good article

Thanks for deflating this marketing balloon.

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WTF?

Yeah, sure!

And those improvements will never end up in any larger sensors.

Hm, one more thing, the laws of physics still apply, don't they? How will they build a lens and a sensor resolving at a fraction of a wavelenght?

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FAIL

"There will be no need to carry around those heavy lenses,"

So says someone with no clue about optics.

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Anonymous Coward

WTF

It's all about the glass !

Smart prosumers invest more in the glass than the bodies.

Nokia nuftie

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Pint

Convenience

The number one reason why I will never have a DSLR for the foreseeable future is that I can't carry it around, especially if I was going clubbing or something. The battle is then between camera phone and digital compact. Now THAT is a battle which I think the camera phone is gonna win. All that's missing is a decent flash and minor lens/sensor upgrades.

I've taken so many snaps of funny things and great memories with my phone which I otherwise would have missed. Simple because of the fact that I always have it with me. More to the point, I'm not gonna attempt to shoot HDRI's or desktop backgrounds without getting something appropriate.

Photos: DSLR

Everything else: decent camera phone

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Happy

going clubbing

Ha!

I do take my DSLR out clubbing. A modest 400D, but still: concerts, mosh pits and all.

And with an old, big Metz external flash fitted to boot.

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