Long Live the Camera!

On Jun 29, nerds around the world celebrated one of the most important birthdays in the annals of technology:  our beloved iPhone turned 5 years old.

Has it really been that long?  Is our cute little baby all grown up and ready for the first day of school? Let’s pause for a sec to list just a few of the ways this device has changed our lives.

  • • 5 years ago, the App Store didn’t exist.  Now?  Companies are spending millions to steer us away from their own websites to download that App instead.
  • • 5 years ago, we got our news from watching TV, listening to radio, or reading a newspaper.  Now?  We check our phones for Twitter feeds.
  • • 5 years ago, we carried large video cameras to document our special occasions.  Now?  Most of us just whip out our phones and press “record”.
  • • 5 years ago, we downloaded photos onto a flash memory card, which we clumsily inserted into a conversion device so we could view them on our computers.  Now?  We instantly post, email and share photos from our phones.

Why did smartphones take over the world?  They’re super convenient, incredibly powerful… and they’re always with us.  Their cameras have gotten so good that Cisco actually shut down its entire Flip Camera division, even though it made money.  Why?  Because they saw the writing on the wall and figured they couldn’t compete with smartphones in the long run.

But did the Ciscos of the world give up too soon?  Is there something to be said for carrying an actual camera with you?

Could be.  My oldest daughter recently went to sleep away camp. Smartphones are prohibited – for good reason – but the kids are encouraged to bring cameras.  Faced with this mandate, I decided to research a few models.  I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

For starters, I learned that most point-and-click cameras now shoot photos and high-quality video.  The model I purchased, the Canon Powershot D10 ($250 on Amazon), has a simple, one-click button that lets you toggle back and forth between photo and video mode.  The images are great and the microphone is much more accurate than iPhones – because it faces outward, toward the people you are recording.

Another advantage of a dedicated camera is what I call “the sideways factor.” Most of us are used to holding our iPhones upright.  This is a mistake.  If you forget to turn the phone sideways when shooting video, you end up with a really narrow image, which looks terrible on TV or computers and cannot be re-formatted.

This is not an issue with traditional cameras, because their natural shooting position is sideways, in widescreen mode.  This means you never need to think about whether you’re holding the device properly.

Another plus:  while cameras still require you to store your images on a flash card, the price has come way down and storage capacity has gone way up.  I purchased a set of two 8-gigabyte cards for only $22, which effectively equals the entire capacity of an iPhone.  Not bad at all.

Finally, point-and-shoot cameras have become powerful.  The Canon unit has a large, 2.5 inch LCD screen for accurate image previews.  It has a real auto flash and 3x zoom, which blows away the typical smartphone.  Best of all:  it’s waterproof.  I wouldn’t even dare to use my iPhone under water, even with one of those expensive cover accessories.  With the Canon, my daughter is sending me lots of great photos from the lake and the pool.

Don’t get me wrong.  I truly love my iPhone and will never give it up.  But as this amazing piece of technology enters the second half of its first decade on Earth, my advice is this:  don’t forget about that “old” digital camera either.


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