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  • Time to say sayonara to standalone 'Digicams'

    NOT LONG AGO, while reviewing a new point-and-click camera from a reputed manufacturer, I forgot to carry it with me for a weekend break as I had planned. But like most other people I really did not miss it because I was carrying two mobile devices, both with very good cameras.

    Admittedly, neither camera was half as good as the standalone model, so I wondered aloud whether we really need such a product any more.

    There are a couple of reasons for my digital epiphany, the first being the quite obvious one of how often people actually take printouts of pictures. Ask yourself when was the last time you put a picture in a frame, a picture that you shot with a small camera. Now you have digital photo frames available, on which pictures taken with even a low- resolution mobile phone look quite all right.

    And all that most people do is instantly upload the pictures they click onto social networking websites. Facebook, in fact, is the world’s largest repository of pictures today, with over 250 million of them being uploaded daily! To cope with that huge volume of pictures, Facebook crunches up the image data, reducing its quality (you can change the settings), which makes the point of having a 14-megapixel camera quite worthless. And most high- end phones can easily shoot videos in Full- High Definition with 1080 lines of resolution.

    Time to say sayonara to standalone 'Digicams'

    Few, though, can match the optical zooming capabilities of a good standalone camera.

    There is obviously a market for high-end Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras, whose prices have also dropped considerably over the past few years. Entry-level DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, the two largest manufacturers of cameras, have come down to below the INR 30,000 mark.

    That said, even though there are few point-and-click digital cameras that can match the photo abilities of a DSLR, carrying around a DSLR is quite onerous. I do not envy the job of the photojournalists who work alongside us.

    So you can imagine on a holiday travelling around with a big camera bag is quite a task, and only the most dedicated photographer would do something like that.

    There are some new point-and-click cameras that are effectively hybrids — the lenses are changeable — but the camera body is super-light.

    Products such as the Sony NEX-3 and NEX-5 and the Canon G-Series try to combine the best of both worlds. These new-generation digital cameras are possibly the way forward.

    But if all you are going to do is upload your pictures on Facebook or shoot a video to upload on YouTube, you will see that a phone does the job just as well.

    - The writer is a technology enthusiast working with India Today