Toronto. As I sup upon the dredges of 2018, I think back on the progress of photography. The cell phone has become the universal camera. Nearing saturation, few of us leave home without our phone (and camera).
While the tiny sensor limits the image results, the smartphone takes an equivalent of a 35mm lens angle of view. The focal length can be digitally increased with a simple two finger spread on the screen. Modern technology has improved the ISO of the tiny sensor and a built-in flash automatically operates in low light conditions.
Newer high end smartphones now have a dual glass lens system (usually 35mm and 70mm equivalent). The longer focal length lens improves the look of head and shoulder portraits just like the 90mm lens of the 35mm film era.
Computational photography in the high-end smartphones allows you to use HRD and to actually adjust the synthetic depth of field on portraits and adjust the lighting configuration too – all POST exposure! Those of us who used film can remember struggling with massive lights and flash units to compensate for the abysmally slow ISO of film. Modern digital devices run far higher ISO levels. My now old NEX-6 can run an ISO of up to 3,200 with no objectionable noise. In a pinch it will go to an ISO of a once unheard of 25,800! Images at that high ISO level demand noise treatment and a loss of detail in the NEX-6 but not so in the professional cameras.
Professional cameras are now full frame (a full size 35mm camera frame) or better for even larger cameras. Resolution can be 48 megapixels or more. And with the 35mm cameras Nikon Z6 and Z7 we saw the incursion of mirrorless camera design on professional level cameras. After all, with the quality of modern digital eyepieces, the costly mirror box and optical eyepiece are an expensive luxury giving little or no improvement.
The proliferation of cameras and automated technologies are making the roles of the professional photographers in any market area more and more redundant. There is a place for the professional eye in choosing a scene, framing it, and lighting it. Modern cameras will look after the rest. But sadly with so many amateur photos out there, even TV weather and news programs routinely solicit free images from viewers just happy for the recognition…