Smartphones have come a long way in the last decade and the cameras they pack are certainly more powerful than they once were. Also, they’re definitely more convenient, but what exactly will cause people to move away from traditional cameras? There’s still a market for digital cameras, but it’s nowhere near as explosive as it was a decade ago – continue reading to find out more.

A Journey From DSLR to the Best Camera Phones

Camera manufacturers have outright admitted that the smartphone revolution has had a detrimental impact on the market, which has led to efforts being made during the 2010s to meet the demands of the smart world. For example, camera giants Nikon released the Coolpix S800c in 2012, and it strived to onboard the Android operating system with a near full touchscreen and a pretty large lens. 

The drive to bring phone technology into digital cameras didn’t end there, with Panasonic releasing the Lumix CM1 in 2014. This model introduced a powerful camera with a 1-inch lens, which is significantly larger than smartphones, and this was paired with the inner workings of a traditional smartphone.

Meanwhile, the Sony camp was gearing up to release the QX system in 2013, which allowed its Alpha series of mirrorless lenses to be used in tandem with a smartphone and separate sensor.

Just a couple of years later, in 2015, the DxO One was launched, which allowed a 1-inch lens to be plugged into the charging port of a smartphone. This allowed avid photographers to utilise their smartphone displays for composition, without compromising the integrity of the picture.

There was clearly a lot of movement in the smartphone + camera hybrid space, but the most notable steps forward came from Samsung. The Galaxy Camera 2, which worked together with the power of 3G and Android OS, had a 21x zoom and Dropbox installed to allow for cloud backup.

There’s enough evidence to suggest that hybrid smartphones/cameras were popular, but there wasn’t enough traction to force manufacturers away from creating smartphones with cameras integrated into them.

Bringing Down the Size

Initial efforts as outlined above meant that camera lenses were still bulky, which didn’t make for a smooth customer experience. Eventually, the successful area of smartphone camera exploration was bringing the power of traditional cameras into the body of smartphones.

Lenses and sensors have evolved alongside each smartphone generation, with the sensors growing larger and the lenses allowing a wider capturing field. Smartphone cameras have allowed manufacturers to combine elements of computational photography with the design, which has bypassed the obstacle of having significantly small sensors. Instead, camera phones have layered lenses, which means they’re able to facilitate optical zoom without the hefty design. 

Will DSLR Be Replaced by Smartphone Cameras?

Smartphone cameras give users the convenience of having the power to snap a selfie or take a shot wherever they are. When you pair this with the integration with social media platforms and other communication channels, there’s no denying that smartphones have become the preferred method of photography for the average user. But, what level of impact will this have on the wider camera market?

The only way to answer this question is to take the DSLR cameras still in circulation and consider whether smartphone technology will be capable of reaching this point.

Compact lens digital cameras – with the lens flush to the camera instead of attached – come in four different models. When it comes to smartphones catching up, the rugged compact camera is next in line for elimination. After all, many smartphones already have defensive measures against water and dust.

When it comes to cameras with long zoom, the ability for a smartphone camera to reach anywhere near its level comes significantly more challenging. Packing the sheer size of these cameras inside a smartphone is challenging enough, but then you have to consider the practicality of the shoot; holding a small camera makes it difficult to keep a steady hand.

Periscope cameras, on the other hand, are designed to allow light to pass through an angled mirror, which boosts the megapixels and creates a brilliant image. This is another area that smartphone manufacturers are aiming to integrate. There is still a gap between DSLR cameras and smartphones, meaning it’s unlikely that they’re going to be completely overtaken anytime soon.

Despite smartphones closing in on traditional digital cameras, there’s one area that will likely never be replaced, and that’s cameras for children. The main reason for this is that parents don’t want their young children to have a smartphone, but there are times when capturing pictures is important.

What is the Best Camera Phone on the Market?

Every notable manufacturer of smartphones is aiming to have the best camera on the market, so it has become impossible to talk about a single product. However, we can tell you that the following smartphones have the best cameras in 2023:

  • Samsung Galaxy S23
  • Sony Xperia 1 IV
  • Apple iPhone 14 Pro
  • Google Pixel 6 Pro
  • Oppo Find X5 Pro
  • OnePlus 10 Pro

Good Camera Phones Vs. DSLR: What’s Next?

Entry-level DSLR cameras are few and far between these days, which says a lot about the market. Camera manufacturers still need to have an affordable price point, but they’re more concerned with making a profit from professional photographers. Typically, these enthusiasts have created their own cameras using parts collected over the years, meaning they can simply buy upgrades.

When you take all of that into account, you can safely say that smartphone cameras have already eliminated the traditional DSLR camera. This doesn’t mean the quality is already better, but this doesn’t matter when the practicality of a smartphone has won over the masses.

Going forward, developments in both spaces will continue, which will provide just enough of a gap for expert photographers to have an interest in DSLR cameras. However, we will see smartphones marching towards even higher sensor counts and MP ratings.

Mirrorless Cameras and the Best Phone Camera

Mirrorless cameras have boomed in popularity over the last few years, with next-gen screens and lenses making this space desirable. Mirrorless cameras even come in medium designs, like the Fujifilm Hasselblad X1D and the GFX 50S II, and these have even more powerful picture qualities than small sensor cameras.

Eventually, given that manufacturers are trying to entice professional photographers into the smartphone space, there’s every chance that smartphones and mirrorless cameras will exist on the same playing field; this will drive demand for traditional DSLR cameras down even further.

What’s Next in the Camera World?

The dedicated camera market will continue to become more streamlined, but a number of manufacturers will likely cease operation entirely. After all, there’s already been several camera manufacturer collapses.

When it comes to smartphone technology, there’s going to be more exploration into computational photography. Eventually, as hardware and cameras evolve, users will be increasingly concerned with the power of the camera when choosing a smartphone.

Smartphones have become the preferred choice for photography because of how practical it is. Traditional DSLR cameras have pretty much been eliminated, but only in the shape that the market used to be. At the moment, there’s a clear gap that makes the allure of DSLR cameras still shine for photographers.