Who needs photographers anyway?

Nikon announced the release of a new bridge camera earlier this month. A bridge camera is one designed to ‘bridge’ the gap between a full SLR and a compact – so it has one lens and compromises in several areas to provide the best all in one solution.  One good point about the Nikon Coolpix P100 is that Nikon have put a CMOS sensor in it, the same size sensor that they put into many of their SLRs.  That should result in good image quality.  It isn’t a pretty camera though…
(image courtesy of Nikon.com)

Aesthetics aside, the thing that caught my eye and concerned me was one of the marketing lines, explaining one of the selling points of the camera.

Nikon’s Smart Portrait System; automatically detects your subject’s face, takes a picture when they smile, smoothes out skin tones and warns you if they blinked.”

There is a point, I believe, when you can have too much technology on a camera. The marketing gurus are claiming that if you point the camera at your subject it will detect the face, detect when they smile, and photograph at the exact moment, and then warn you afterwards if someone blinked in the photo.  With cameras providing this amount of assistance, who needs a photographer? It is a mute point, we all know that the expertise of photographers will not die out, but it saddens me that the emphasis is on the camera’s technology, rather than on enabling.  Let me explain.

I would much rather Nikon reduced shutter lag – so that when you press the shutter on a compact camera it takes a picture instantly, as on an SLR – and provided an easy to get along with exposure compensation button so that (the classic example) when the subject has a strong light behind them, the camera doesn’t under expose.  That way the person with camera would know that what they saw in the viewfinder was what they captured, and begin to get  an understanding of camera metering and light.

The cheap compact camera has not, I would argue, done anything for photography. The millions of flash lit self portraits on facebook from that night out do not encourage me that the concept of ‘painting with light’ as early photography was termed, is catching on.

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