Cape Town - Digital photography is entering a new phase of separating into two categories, a manufacturer has said.
Smartphones are eliminating point-and-shoot cameras as the camera-equipped mobile device improves in the quality of lenses and features to take a variety of images that were previously the exclusive domain of cameras.
But according to Fujifilm, the latest range of its X series of cameras allows users to be more expressive than a smartphone currently permits.
"I admit you know, even iPhones can take a very good photo, that's true. But now, people want image quality and more expression," Keitaro So, general manager for Electronic Imaging Division in Fujifilm Middle East FZE, told News24 as the company launched its updated X series in SA.
As manufacturers increase smartphone photography features, sales of point-and-shoot cameras continue to fall.
According to a survey by Mintel Technology, digital camera sales fell by around 30% between 2006 and 2011. Camcorders are facing deep contractions as smartphones become the primary means for users to upload images and video to social networks.
"Although smartphone cameras do not typically match the quality of output of dedicated devices, the technology is consistently improving, as the quality of camera image output becomes too high for consumers to reliably distinguish between competitors," said Mintel Technology analyst Samuel Gee.
Fujifilm conceded that smartphones have improved in their ability to replace cameras, but said that some users demanded a high-end camera for specific purposes and this would create two categories in the market.
"So iPhone is very good on an iPhone but some people want to share more on their blog, for example. The market is divided into two parts: Smartphones and high-end camera," Keitaro argued.
"The top-end camera - we think this will survive - but the point-and-shoot lower end model will not survive in the future," he added.
He may have a point as sales of cameras with interchangeable lenses have increased by 10% in the UK, according to industry tracker GfK Ireland.
Fujifilm showed off its updated X series of cameras to media and the X-E1 appeared to deliver more realistic colour of skin tones than a Nikon D800 and Canon 5D Mark III.
"Everybody's shifting to higher end models so Fuji will also focus on the X series in the future," said Keitaro.
He added that Fuji will not abandon its Finepix range; instead, the X series will be marketed to professionals, while the Finepix will be targeted at the mass market.
Samsung assaulted the camera market with its Galaxy camera phone hybrid and Fujifilm said that it had cameras with Wi-Fi and an uploader application. It is, however, investigating the Samsung strategy.
"Their concept is that the Galaxy phone becomes a camera, so we investigate carefully whether our camera should or not have an Android operating system," Keitaro said.
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