The iPhone 7 has been announced to the usual mix of comments, some hot some cold. To the traditional camera industry, this will be looked at very closely. The iPhone is as Apple state, 'the most popular camera in the world', already. The new iPhone 7 is about to take smartphone photography to a new level that will inevitably put further strain on the traditional Japanese Camera Industry, not only the low-cost cameras but also sales of the more advanced enthusiast's cameras.
Why does the new iPhone matter? We have already seen the decimation of the low-cost camera market, mainly due to shrinkage as people use smart devices but also production issues caused by the recent Japanese Earthquake. Year-on-year the production of fixed lens compact cameras is down by -46.1% to July 2016. Further uptake of smartphone photography instead of dedicated camera use will see this category of camera almost extinct in a few years time. Only the older generations of non-smartphone users are keeping this alive.
There are of course a few reasons why people will continue to buy fixed lens cameras. The zoom capability of 'superzoom' pocket cameras and bridge cameras is one main advantage. Secondly, the larger sensor types of premium compacts cameras will continue to attract discerning photographers. However, as we shall see with the iPhone 7 these advantages are being addressed, in part, by the latest smartphone cameras.
Pixel count is often one of the most used parameters to judge cameras. The new iPhone 7 Plus sports not 1 but two new 12M pixel cameras. Is that enough? For the majority of amateur photographers 10M pixels+ will be all they need.
The two cameras are added as 1 will provide a 1X magnification with image stabilization whilst the other will provide an optical 2X magnification camera. The image stabilization being good for low-light shooting as well as video to cancel out camera shake that would otherwise blur the images.
One camera has an f1.8 at equivalent 28mm whilst the other is f2.8 at equivalent 56mm. Now these look good on paper but they are only equivalent in depth-of-field terms to about f12 and f22 of a full-frame camera. That will not give the blurred background that so many photographers crave. In steps technology. The iPhone 7 Plus uses both cameras and a lot of processing power to produce the kind of shallow depth of field desired without the need for large sensors and lenses.
The iPhone 7 and 7 Plus will be a challenge for traditional camera manufacturers to rise to. A fact that they are already aware of and are addressing here