Blog Post

Does new iPod touch spell double-trouble for point-and-shoot cameras?

Glyn Evans, who writes the wonderful iPhoneography blog, is excited about the new, fifth-generation iPod touch (s AAPL), which comes with a 5-megapixel camera that supports HDR image capture and the new Panorama shooting mode. Evans believes that it opens up the world of iPhoneography to those who don’t own or don’t want to buy an iPhone.  On his blog Evans writes:

….whilst this new Touch may not offer a physical zoom lens like a traditional point and shoot digital compact camera (neither does the iPhone), with such a vast array of photo taking, editing and sharing apps, I think this new Touch will appeal to many people both young and old, who are looking for a point and shoot camera that does more than just take photos; and should give the new breed of Android based cameras a run for their money.

I have argued in the past that iPhoneography works because it is conveninent. It also works because iPhones (or the new Android(s goog) phones) have built-in connectivity and also access to apps, whether for editing or sharing. I have a pocket-sized Lumix but I rarely use it — for special occasions, I have a higher-end Lumix GF-1 with a few lenses and lately I have been trying out the Sony(s sne) Nex5n, which is a really wonderful camera.

However, it is the iPhone 4S that is my point-and-shoot camera. It is also the no. 1 camera used by folks who upload photos to Flickr(s yhoo). (Mark Crump said in a guest post for us that he uses the iPhone for advanced photography. Check out his tips.) The new iPod Touch further opens up the market. Evans’ post made me wonder if this will only accelerate the demise of the standalone point-and-shoot digital cameras, and instead we will see the camera business become bifurcated into two segments: smartphone cameras and higher-end cameras such as the new digital-mirror marvels. Thoughts?

18 Responses to “Does new iPod touch spell double-trouble for point-and-shoot cameras?”

  1. Ryan Sommer

    Hi Om,

    My best from London, hope you are well. I’d like to tip you towards an up and coming photo sharing startup called Starmatic, which Glyn has also blogged about:

    We’ve got lots of early adopters who are passionate about using the ipod/iPhone to take serious pictures, not just food/cats…etc.

    Check it out:


  2. The difficulty in predicting is that things are in such a state of flux. Without taking a strong stand one way or another let me provide some thoughts:

    1. Appreciation for quality of pictures has gone way up. My 8-yr knows that her point-and-shoot is not good quality and wants pictures of the quality of a DSLR! I am thinking of buying her a mirrorless as prices come down. I see professional photographers getting hired more (not less!) for important life events (weddings, bar/bat mitzvah, school, sports, portraits) as consumers, especially the ones with DSLRs, expect magazine quality for their own important pictures and want a pro to handle the shoot (see my opinion here: ).

    2. PS Cameras with Android have started to come in to the market. So a high quality mirrorless which has the convenience of a phone camera may not be too far away. And the size limitations and therefore the optics of a phone camera will limit image quality beyond a certain point.

    The point really is that expectations of quality are growing and ability for every kind of manufacturers to encroach the other’s territory exists today. It therefore become very hard to predict which use cases and market segments will a particular device appeal to. Personally I see myself having an iPhone, a mirrorless and a DSLR. All to be used at different times. No one quite expected the boom in DSLRs, not even Canon and Nikon. To me the future market segmentation is uncertain at best.

  3. I was excited for a decent camera in an iPod touch a few years back.

    Now not so much. Not sure why. I guess the Ipad came out. And it is hard to use a smaller device now. And you have to spend $300 which puts it into smartphone cost territory.

  4. Michael W. Perry – I agree with you completely.

    If I want to take a “snap & share” with an iDevice then fine but if I want to take a real photograph into a light source I can’t do it because I can’t see the screen and I also find it difficult to hold&compose with a thin device.

    I carry a Canon G11 in my pocket and it’s overall quality of result is 100 times better as a photograph than my iPhone but if I’m in a bar with friend I always use my iPhone because it’s with me.

  5. Earlier this year I was in the market for a point-and-shoot and ended up holding off on a purchase specifically in hopes that the iPod Touch camera might be upgraded this fall. What held me back from choosing any of the cameras in my price range wasn’t a lack of features but heavy, boxy design and stunningly poor user interface design. Even the ones that used touch screens instead of fiddly buttons and dials were still lumbered with unintuitive unreadable icons, and a raft of settings options hidden behind multiple submenus. I couldn’t help thinking how much easier it was for my iPhone using friends to simply take a snap! I say this as someone using 35mm cameras for 40 years — I can use a camera with multiple lenses and attachments pretty easily, but using a digital camera was too much damn work for me. Camera makers are going to need to borrow more about Apple UI than just making their cameras in different colors.

    • Great points – the simplicity of the experience of taking photos is very important and I am just surprised how many digital camera makers forget that and keep loading them cameras with features and stuff no one want to use or has time to use when trying to capture a moment.

  6. Michael W. Perry

    I’m delighted that Apple’s finally given the iPod touch a decent camera. They’ve neglected the touch for far too long. I got tired of waiting for something decent and opted for used iPhones instead.

    But all these ‘instead of a camera’ gadgets share a common flaw: they don’t fit our hands well, so they’re hard to hold steady and aim. Cameras should be something we grip in a hand rather than something we hold delicately by the edges with our fingertips like elegant china.

    That’s why when Kickstarter offered a clever smartphone holder called a SlingShot, I orderer one. It does almost everything. It comes with a handle that opens into a desktop tripod. Take off the handle and the holder will install on any tripod including the little wrap-around-a-tree-limb sort.

    Now if someone would just come out with devices that are just as clever to provide an easy to clip on sunshade for smartphones, tablets and laptops. In any sort of sun at all, my iPhone’s screen is so washed out, I’m almost taking pictures blind.

  7. dinakaranonline

    It makes sense to buy an iPod instead of a point and shoot camera + mp3 player . In addition you get iOS ecosystem /wi fi connectivity as a bonus. Problem with digital camera is abt transferring the pics to a PC and then sharing it online. It’s quite a lengthy process !

    Did you know that there are accessories available for iPhone camera ? You can attach an external lens to iPhone for taking advanced pics like macro.Those will now come to iPod as well I guess.

    As somebody said , the best camera is the camera that you have with you at the moment to capture the magic :)

  8. I have seen more and more people taking pictures with their phone where there is no connectivity, middle of nowhere. I think the problem is the zoom, since I have also seen people taking pictures of bull elk rut with their phones. Promptly got to close and got chased, maybe that’s natural selection for phones/cameras. Only the zoom survive, people drop stuff when they start running. Kidding aside I think the “normal” point and shoot won’t make it.

  9. zachtirrell

    I attended my nieces championship soccer game last summer. My whole family was there, it was a big event. When they won, there was an opportunity to take photos of them with the trophy. My brother called me over and asked that I take some shots since I had the best camera, I initially apologized and explained that I didn’t think to bring my D-SLR. He shook his head and said “I know, but you have an iPhone”.

    This was the moment I realized that point and shoots were at the tail end of their market share. Not only was my phone camera good enough for this occasion, but no one else had even brought their point and shoots!

      • Julio Jua

        They say the best camera is the one you have with you, meaning, it’s better to have some camera than no camera, and now that camera could be 5MP with auto-focus, HDR and panorama mode, not to mention you have the ability to experiment with the device’s imaging capabilities by downloading software directly into it called apps. Before that would have involved finding the appropriate firmware alternatives for your camera and embark into a slightly sensitive operation. Only good thing about those days was that firmware alternatives were free, or at least the ones I saw. But now with the iPod Touch, I can do long exposure shots, scan documents for image to text/PDF (5th gen will be better for that), and even make stereoscopic images (with minor limitations). And as zachtirrell mentioned, with an iPhone or wifi available, you could share any of those images quickly.