Snippet: Why Camera Makers Will Be Dead (Soonish) ☇

Shared on August 29, 2023

Om Malik:

The Ricoh GR’s Image Sync app is a nightmare. It has a paltry 1.8-star rating on the app store, accompanied by even worse reviews. The app feels outdated, and the process for Bluetooth pairing is manual and tedious. The WiFi connection consistently fails. After spending over an hour troubleshooting and going through the documentation, I gave up. The odds of successfully connecting the phone to the camera seem slimmer than those in a perilous game of Russian roulette. […]

Mobile phone processors are becoming more powerful, and computer vision algorithms continue to advance. These innovations will minimize image noise, auto-correct imperfections, and optimize images for screen displays. The software’s capacity to merge data from multiple lenses signifies another leap. AI platforms such as MidJourney and Stable Diffusion will enable the transformation of captured images into unique stories. The hefty investments in software, chips, and algorithms present a significant challenge to traditional camera entities.

As this transformation continues, many camera companies grapple with even the most rudimentary software features. While these companies excel in hardware, they stumble in software development. Brands like Sony, Nikon, Canon, Fuji, and Leica pride themselves on their lens craftsmanship. Yet, when the topic shifts to software, their offerings seem lacking in polish and sophistication, almost as if they’re an afterthought.

I have a rather old Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF3 and have had some various older point-and-shoot cameras before that. While every camera has been great for its time from an image capturing standpoint, none have felt great from a usability standpoint. Looking at current models, the interfaces are still much like my Panasonic—I sort of ignore Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for transferring files because I haven’t experienced one that isn’t clunky.

With the right lenses, my Panasonic takes some really great photos for a ten-year-old camera. However, I rarely take it with me unless I need optical zoom. My iPhone is always on me, takes pretty good pictures in most conditions, uploads them to iCloud immediately, and tends to improve images through software, forgiving my sloppiness. The only place for me that it falls short is that it loses out on distance (I’ve toyed with the idea of add-on lenses, but am waiting for my next phone, especially as Moment’s products are getting a refresh).

It probably doesn’t make sense for a number of reasons, I’d be really curious what a standalone camera made by Apple would be like. Just as things like the HomePods and Studio Displays are iOS devices, this camera could have an A-something chip, run a stripped-down version of iOS, and work like the Camera app, but with the ability to use much bigger and better optics (either superzoom or interchangeable). It could work with iCloud Photo Library and even have a limited App Store for more software features.

Then again, external webcams are being added to iPadOS 17. Perhaps there could be an external camera accessory, like Sony Ericsson offered for the T68i more than two decades ago, could be another option to improve iPhone-ography and take things full-circle.

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