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What Smartphones Have Done to the Camera Industry

One of the standout features in Apple’s new iPhone XS is the camera.

One of the standout features in Apple’s new iPhone XS is the camera. Early reviewers seem to agree that, hidden behind terms like Smart HDR and Neural Engine, the XS takes significantly better photos than its predecessors, with results edging ever closer to the quality once reserved to expensive interchangeable lens cameras.

And its not just Apple: over the past few years, smartphone cameras in general have improved significantly. So much so in fact, that many people no longer see the need to carry or buy a dedicated camera. While professionals and photo enthusiasts will always get better results using high-end cameras and lenses, modern smartphones take pictures that are easily sufficient for the demands of the average consumer.

To the camera and photo equipment industry, the rise of smartphone photography has had devastating effects. According to CIPA, a Japan-based industry group with members such as Olympus, Canon and Nikon, worldwide camera shipments dropped nearly 80 percent between 2010 and 2017. The steep decline was mainly driven by a drop-off in shipments of digital cameras with built-in lenses, the type that casual photographers used to rely on prior to the rise of smartphone photography.

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