The DSLR bubble has burst

There has been a lot of talk of digital point-and-shoot cameras going the way of the dodo due to the rise of smartphone photography, judging from recent news concerning the declining sales of DSLRs (digital single lens reflex cameras).

According to market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC), sales of these big bulky cameras have fallen for the first time in a decade, at a 10-15 per cent decline in DSLR shipments all over the world.

It's shocking news for the industry considering that the DSLR market has been growing double digits for almost 10 years.

In reality, it's no surprise because the DLSR trend has noticeably ended.

Yes, there was once a time not so long ago when the DSLR market was flourishing. Back when having a DSLR was "cool" and it fueled sales of DLSR cameras, lenses and accessories. Has the DSLR bubble finally burst?

I admit I was one of those early adopters of the DLSR craze about half a decade ago. I started buying lenses, lighting equipment and accessories along the way to feed my hobby.

What I quickly noticed was that everyone around me started to buy DSLRs as well, and it almost became a commodity. Everyone started having this mentality that pictures would look great when taken with a "bigger, badder camera".

At that time, smartphone cameras were primitive and digital point-and-shoots were seen as the "poor man's camera".

Everyone had to have ba DSLR. My friends and relatives started getting one, as well as kids. DSLRS have become even more affordable, and far advanced for regular users that they have reached a tipping point; anyone can take "great quality" photos without moving beyond "Auto" or buying new lenses.

But what exactly are "great quality" images? For most consumers, anything that looks clear, vivid and crisp passes as "great quality".

Today, high-end compact cameras and even smartphones can deliver "great quality" images that will satisfy almost everyone.

This is exactly why many who have jumped the bandwagon have recently ditched their heavy and expensive DSLRS because their current smartphones can meet their photography needs. Most consumers no longer see the value of DSLRS when smartphones are more affordable, pocketable and have the ability to share instantly to Facebook and Instagram.

It's funny because despite the sales plunge of digital cameras, people are taking more pictures than ever before. It's just that the medium has changed.

This leaves the real cameras to enthusiasts, amateurs and professionals, who still need a real camera for their work or hobby. The DSLRs are still around and are more powerful than ever, and then there's a new breed of interchangeable lens cameras which have no mechanical mirror and are smaller in size.

The high end compact cameras have also improved dramatically to combat the growing popularity of smartphone photography, producing image quality that's at par with the DSLR.

But for the camera manufacturers, the consumers are the bread and butter for their products, and when the majority of consumers are moving to smartphones entirely, the manufacturers will need to change its production strategy to cater to the professionals and hobbyists.

Meanwhile, cameras in smartphones are drastically improving. Case in point; the new iPhone 5s' camera has been recently praised by a renowned National Geographic photographer.

The digital photography landscape has really changed. I hardly see anyone with a DSLR in the streets anymore, because everyone has a camera they can pull out of their pockets whenever they need it.

Granted, DSLRs are nothing more than just tools, just like any other cameras. What matters the most is how the user wields them. The talented photographer can constantly take beautiful pictures with any camera at their disposal, even a smartphone.

Just as how a painter can create beautiful work of art with any type of paintbrush and canvas. You don't go to the painter and ask "what paintbrush do you use to paint this beautiful artwork?", do you?

I'm actually glad that the bubble has burst, because at least now I won't be seeing anyone spending a lot of money on expensive equipment just to take pictures of food.

The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.

The Brunei Times