The iPhone Is Killing Point-and-Shoot Cameras


The quality evolution of iPhone photography.
The quality evolution of iPhone photography.

Remember how digital cameras did in film? That progression appears now to be in its second-generation as the iPhone and other smartphones seem destined to do away with the ubiquitous point-and-shoot digital camera. A new report finds phones take a third of all photos as phone-based photo quality dramatically increases.

According to the NPD Group, the percent of photos taken by a smartphone jumped to 27 percent, up from 17 percent in 2010. Likewise, The number of point-and-shoot cameras fell 17 percent this year with consumer spending down 18 percent in November. A key factor is quality of cameras available to phone owners. In 2007, when the first iPhone launched, a 2-megapixel camera was on board. The iPhone 4S, launched in October, has an 8-megapixel camera.

Acceptance of smartphone camera photos has also increased. Gone are the days when you apologetically explained the blurry photo with ‘I only had my phone with me.’ Instagram, a service providing a way to share your camera photos, says users upload 26 photos each second. The iPhone 4 is credited with posting more photos on Flickr, than any other camera.

How can camera makers compete? One answer is to sell devices that accept detachable lenses. The number of such devices sold in November jumped by 12 percent compared to the same time in 2010, according to NPD. Another tactic, say researchers is to ensure point-and-shoot camera offer optical zoom greater than 10x. Point-and-shoot camera that did so saw sales increased 16 percent.

I’m not sure how long detachable lenses will allow point-and-shoots to survive. My daughter just told me she bought some nifty zoom lenses that magnetically attach to her iPhone 4. The iPhone 4 will never replace a professional digital camera, such as the Nikon D series or Cannon’s Mark IV, but smartphone cameras are quickly making point-and-shoots, well, pointless.

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  • Jordan Clay

    I can’t justify carrying around a Point and Shoot.  Like a lot of consumers, the biggest factor isn’t the money…it’s pockets.  My iPhone 4 (not even the S) takes great photos, I have 10 0r 12 printed out and on my desks and they look PERFECT.

  • Bob Whipple

    I took my P&S along on my last vacation, but used it very little. Most of my photos and videos were taken with my iPhone 4. I admit that I am just a casual photographer, but the iPhone has certainly replaced the P&S in my case. I am more than pleased with the results. The only two shortcomings for me are the lack of an optical zoom and some difficulty viewing the shot on the screen in bright sunlight. While irritating, these limitations alone do not justify my carrying along a P&S.

    I think I may have purchased my last camera.

  • nthnm

    One of the only things that the iPhone can’t do at all, is zoom. If you don’t need to zoom, an iPhone will take pretty great pictures.

  • Terry Price

    hmmm, I can zoom with mine. Tap the screen and pinch.

  • Daniel Spinner

    Not with video

  • aebrett

    Presumably by “Cannon’s Mark IV”, you actually mean *Canon’s* 1D Mark IV. The “Mark IV” simply refers to the version of the camera, not the camera itself.

  • Andy Sandoval

    It does digital zoom, not optical, so the more you zoom the worst the quality gets.

  • samcat99

    Cell phones are to good P&S cameras what Instamatics were to Leicas – a pocketable cheap limited adequate quality in ideal conditions – photographic solution. 

    I just converted my Macbook Pro to Windows and love it now – didn’t before with the odd Mac operating system.

    Blackberry I carry everywhere but shoot pics with it rarely unless my Panasonic Lumix LX5 is out of reach which is also rare.  No fast low light level capable superwide angle (f/2.0 and 24mm focal length) lens and lack of fine tuning of exposure, focusing and accurate composing of the viewing frame make the phone a phone for me – not a camera. 

    My wife’s Iphone 4 is also similarly left in the purse or pocket when picture taking time comes – she just asked for a small pocketable high quality P&S camera for Christmas.  Cell phones are used as cameras by people who don’t really care about good creative photograpy and opt for the ease of the Instamatic.

  • Don Pope

    That’s fake zoom. All it does is crop the photo.

  • Elsic1975a

    Yes, but a lot of basic P&S cameras don’t have optical zoom, either. The new format looks interesting (micro 4/3rds?). The issue I have is that I use my iPhone for casual stuff so much that, when it comes time to shoot something nice with my P&S with 18x optical zoom, the batteries are dead. I only use it about twice a year now.

  • Wade Huang

    digital processer is not not a real optical lens. Get real optical lens from


    An iPhone can replace a higher grade camera because of editing software. Aperture, along with several other editing programs can enhance or clean-up  photos taken on iPhone 4 or 4S. Plus, iOS devices have access to the web, along with all of the cloud/photo sites that store photo albums online, making the cameras functions a lot more convenient. They’re obviously not as good, but the average consumer or user can’t really tell the difference unless you put both photos side by side. With the lack of web access & simplistic functions, point-in-shoot’s are dying & pro-camera’s will be next in a few years, it’s inevitable. Not only are the products dying, but the profession itself will take a MAJOR beating! In less than 10 years, the average-joe will be able to do anything a professional can, with simple tools & very little knowledge in the field. Apple’s doing a lot more than killing products, they’re killing careers!