The Real Reasons the Camera Market is Shrinking; Hint: It’s Not Smartphones


Photographer and occasional PetaPixel guest author Robin Wong recently published a very interesting take on a question that most people thought was settled: why is the camera market shrinking? While most people would just blame the rise of smartphones and call it a day, Wong shares a more nuanced, and possibly more accurate, list of reasons.

To be clear, Wong isn’t arguing that the rise of smartphones with great cameras hasn’t had an impact on the imaging industry. That’s undeniable. But in this video and the accompanying blog post, he breaks down four other reasons that he believes are just as valid, if not more so.

If you’ve ever had this conversation with a fellow photographer, you may have touched on a couple of Wong’s reasons yourself. Summed up, they would be:

  • Cameras reached a plateau of “sufficiency” several years go. Almost any camera released in the last 5 or so years is more-than-good-enough to capture almost any subject, and do it extremely well.
  • Interest in photography is waning. There was a time when peer pressure and curiosity had everyone out buying their first “real” camera, but almost anyone who wanted to try photography now has, and most of those people won’t feel the need to buy another camera for a very long time (if ever) because they’re not actually interested in photography.
  • Social media changed the landscape of photography. By elevating self-documentation into the main photographic “art form,” social media made proper cameras less necessary for the kinds of photos that most consumers want to take. As Wong puts it, “You don’t need 61MP for your selfie photographs, you don’t need ISO100,000 to shoot that slice of cake, and you certainly don’t need a super-telephoto lens to shoot your cat licking her paws.”
  • Photography is stagnant. In Wong’s view, the vast majority of modern-day photographers are doing what is safe and known instead of breaking new ground. In what is probably the most controversial point of the whole video, he says, “I don’t see anything truly thought provoking and revolutionary from the work of today’s photographers.”

So… what’s the solution? There’s not much individuals can do to help “save” the market, but Wong encourages photographers to continue working on their craft in an attempt to make photography fresh and interesting and inspiring to the rest of the world once more.

“Improve ourselves, be better photographers, be true to ourselves, then we can be the inspiration for others to follow,” concludes Wong. “I am sure together, we can bring the joy and true meaning of photography back to this world.”

To dive into each reason above in detail and hear Wong’s concluding call-to-action for yourself, check out the full video up top or read the accompanying blog post here.



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