The best camera is the one you have with you right? Which is why the majority of snaps taken today come from a smartphone. The compact camera is dead, but just how good are those snaps when compared against today’s compact cameras and does such a thing have a place in your every day carry after all?
Financially, smartphone manufacturers often use the camera as a differentiator between smartphones in different market sectors. The expensive top of the range iPhone 7+ packs one of the best cameras you can get in a smartphone and for the privilege you pay a premium price. Google tries to make the same distinction with the Pixel. In fact every smartphone OEM reserves its best camera for its best phone.
If you were to remove the camera from the equation, does a high end smartphone still make sense?
That iPhone 7+ costs NZ$1429, $230 more than the entry-level iPhone 7. You could purchase a reasonably high spec compact camera for close to that sum and end up with something far more capable.
The Sony DSC-W830 or Canon IXUS 180, for example, cost s than that $230 price difference and feature an 8-times optical zoom and a significantly more capable lens configuration. Are your photos important enough that you’d consider the extra bulk of a separate camera? Either one is certainly small enough to fit in a pocket, or occupy the minimum of space in a laptop bag.
Both feature Wifi and NFC for quick sharing of your photos to your smartphone, so if you want to post that photo you can do so without any fuss.
Step up a little in size and cost and you'll gain even more capability, as well as advanced manual and priority modes that will allow you achieve photos that are in a different league to any smartphone. The faux portrait modes of the iPhone 7+ and Huawei P9 look pretty tame when compared to something like the $350 Panasonic Lumix TZ57 which can deliver the real thing.
Smartphone cameras have been improving over the last five years, but really only one or two have been suitable for more than just snaps. The Lumia 1020 was the best of those, but it's a long time gone now.
For all the subsequent improvements which have raised the level of smartphone camera capability there’s still a gap that can't be bridged with clever software.
So, if your snaps are mostly just snaps for posting on social media and layering up with filters, a smartphone camera will do the job for you.
However if you’re photos are going to be about memories and you attach significance to what you’re capturing, then you might want to consider the value of a better camera in your backpack.
So if the best camera is the one you have with you, why aren't you carrying a better camera?