Seven years ago, when I was one of the first to experiment with HDR technology in the Czech Republic and predicted HDR will soon be directly installed in reflex cameras, everyone laughed. Five years later, HDR was in every reflex camera, not speaking about compact or cell phone cameras. Not bad for an amateur. I will therefore dare to predict something once again – digital cameras will soon die out.
Many people will say that you need a camera to take photos and that all those mobile phones have bad quality, they are not easy to hold, they are flat and have no flash or lens. That is all true, but cell phones also have one major advantage – we have them on hand at all times. And so some of our most precious pictures are taken using cell phones – moments, that are of the greatest value to us.
When I lost some data many years ago (not completely, as it turned out, but the situation seemed bad for a few days), what was most vital for me was my family photos. You can always climb the hill to take a snapshot of the sunrise once again, but how would you recapture your son's first birthday? That would require a lot of organization and retouching and possibly even borrowing another child for the shoot.
And it is for this very reason that more people are using cell phones to take pictures, myself included. It is useful to note that the quality of cell phones has already surpassed some compact cameras. I would say photo camera producers have missed out in this area a lot.
In my opinion, it will take no more than 5-10 years before compact cameras will disappear off the market completely. And within 20 years, even digital reflex cameras as we know them today will be different. We will still have professional instruments (such as large format), but most of us will be using our mobile devices (this is not limited to just cell phones). So Nikon and Canon will likely have the same fate as Kodak if they do not conform.
On the other hand, the area that is expected to boom is photograph post-processing. Using technologies like those presented by, for example, Lytro, we will be able to collect a load of data that we will later process and with a click of a button be able to fix a photo's sharpness and color. You will be able to create a photo that will have GPS coordinates that are similar to the original snapshot. This could lead to more interest in using analogy photographs in art again, but that remains to be seen.
I don't consider myself a specialist on this topic, a professional analyst or a professional photographer, but I think my predictions will eventually come true. Perhaps it is a bold proposition but maybe not. Only time will show whether I am right.