The smartphone camera tipping point
When will phones replace dedicated cameras?
Welcome back to Multicore for March 2nd, 2023.
The other day I lamented not being in Barcelona for Mobile World Congress, but the flipside was that I could go to another show instead. CP+ is Japan's biggest camera industry convention and tends to run at the same time as MWC, so usually I find myself at one or the other.
This year's event was the first held in person in four years, with 2020's having been one of the earliest major cancellations of the pandemic. It's back at the Pacifico Yokohama convention centre now, and things proceeded more or less the same as usual save for the mandatory masks and pre-registration.
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The other big difference was that there wasn't very much to see. In years past, most camera companies would make major announcements somewhere between CES in January and CP+ in February, with the latter show serving as the first public showcase for the hardware in Japan. (The other major show on the calendar is Photokina in Germany, though that used to be biennial and is yet to return post-pandemic.)
This year, there were almost no notable camera or lens announcements in the run-up to the show. You could freely test just about everything on display at CP+ 2023 by walking 20 minutes to the Yokohama branch of Yodobashi Camera.
This isn't really a problem with CP+. It's a problem with the camera industry at large, and it's been the case for years. Put simply, the exciting breakthroughs with imaging technology aren't found in dedicated cameras any more — they're happening in phones. And even as someone who loves the experience of shooting with cameras, I have to admit that my own interest has been on the wane. It’s not that phones are a “good enough” alternative to cameras; increasingly often, they’re better.
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