Endangered Species

Eastman Kodak Company, my client from 1970-1992, learned too late that digital cameras were destined to totally replace film. In the 4th Edition of my book, “Mastering Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Photography,” I detail some other endangered species of interest to photographers, and the technology that will replace them. And it’s no secret that mobile phones, tablets, and phablets are set to do most of the replacing. The following list doesn’t even include stuff displaced by photo-oriented apps, like the free David Busch’s Lensfinder, or smartphone remote controls.

* Point-and-shoot cameras. Millions of pocket cameras are still sold each year, primarily because they have a few features that are not yet universal in smart phones, such as zoom lenses. Yet, the adage goes, “The best camera is the one you have in your hand” and while even the most avid snapshooter doesn’t tote their P & S camera everywhere they go, when they venture out they’re more likely to forget a wallet than a smart phone. When phone cameras catch up to the best point-and-shoots in terms of features, the latter will become an endangered species.
* GPS. GPS now built into cameras is becoming an important technology for photographers. However, other types of global positioning system units will eventually join the endangered species list along with point-and-shoot cameras. Many people are already using their smart device GPS for route information and finding particular points of interest (i.e. where’s the nearest gas station?) Hand-held GPS, used by hikers, and in-vehicle GPS units are less crucial. Did you think it was cool that your latest automobile had an in-dash GPS system? How thrilled will you be in five years when you still own that car and realize your obsolete GPS unit can’t be updated every two years like your phone.
* Landlines. People started phasing out home landlines when they disconnected their fax machines and dial-up Internet connections a decade ago. I don’t even know anybody who has an actual landline, unless you consider one of those Internet-based voice over IP (VOIP) systems that use a standard telephone. They may be magic, Jack, but we use our mobile phone a lot more.
* Wrist watches. Today, most wrist watches are a fashion accessory rather than a useful device. If you really need to know the time, glancing at your phone’s screen takes only a second longer than looking at your wrist – and the display will likely tell you about the weather, too. It’s too soon to tell whether the Apple Watch will reverse the trend.
* Voice calls. A lot of people, especially the younger set, don’t even make many voice calls with their phones. Texting can be faster, can be responded to (or not) at your convenience without interrupting what you’re doing, and provides a non-paper trail of a conversation so you don’t even have to take notes. If you really need to communicate with someone in realtime, Skype or FaceTime are frequently more useful.
* MP3 players. Replaced by your phone.
* Pocket Calculators. The best Texas Instruments calculator of your youth can’t hold a candle to calculator apps. A printout is as close as the nearest AirPrint device. They’re everywhere.