back to article Nokia: digital SLRs are doomed

One of the web's "25 most influential people" says that camera phones will soon make digital SLRs obsolete. "There will be no need to carry around those heavy lenses," Nokia's marketing EVP Anssi Vanjoki told a gathering in Helsinki, according to Reuters. Citing continuing improvements in cameraphone technology, Vanjoki said …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Perhaps he is partially right

    The burgeoning mid range DSLR compact is a useful extra for the professional but it puts DSLR technology in the hands of us mere mortals. My Olympus E-620 is superb for what I use it for.

    I like it because it is more flexible than a compact and takes great pictures.

    However, my daughter recently got a new mobile phone and I have to say that the pictures it takes are really rather good.

    I can see the camera phone (and therefore compact camera) making roads into this area.

    They will never replace the specialist camera but for most people, a good "snap" is good enough.

    1. The Flying Dutchman

      Partially as in 0.1 %

      "For most people, a good "snap" is good enough."

      That's why "most people" do not use SLRs. Also because most people do not have the faintest clue about things like depth of field, "bokeh", and image noise (digital) or grain (film).

      Those who don't think a "good snap" is good enough, do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Point taken but...

        Compact DSLRs are not just marketed at the professional.

        They are also about getting pictures in low-light conditions or where there is movement (like sporting events) and for some situations, a phone camera and a lot of compacts just can't cut it.

        Just go to a school concert and look at the number of parents with "fancy" cameras. Many are there with their expensive-ish compact DSLRs since that is the only way to get anything that is viewable.

        They couldn't give a sh*t about DOF or any other TLAs that you care to quote, they just want some good pics.

        What gives them that is the good quality lens, the large, good quality sensor and perhaps image stabilisation. If you can get that from a camera phone then for most of these customers, that will be good enough.

        But in the main, I agree, VanJoki is full of sh*t.

        1. The Flying Dutchman

          They couldn't give a sh*t about DOF...

          ... until they actually get to see what it does.

          Lots of casual snaps, maybe even the majority, tend to be portraits of some sort. Show anyone a portrait shot with DOF to infinity, and the exact same shot well-focused with shallow DOF - even complete noobs in photographic matters will tend to prefer the latter.

          Decent compact cameras have a "portrait" preset for exactly this reason, and can achieve half-decent results. Mobile phone cameras cannot, because they have no optics worth mentioning, and since the tendency for mobile phones is thin - thinner - thinnest, it's unlikely they ever will.

    2. Lou Gosselin


      Obviously the phone cameras will never make traditional cameras obsolete on a technical level. Read in this context, Anssi Vanjoki's statements look pretty idiotic. It is wrong, insulting even, to characterize the camera phones as equivalent in quality.

      However from the marketing viewpoint, the market for cheap & poor quality, yet convenient, photography is probably outgrowing professional photography gear by a large measure.

      Another thing to note: my current cell phone (a nokia as it were) has a camera on it, but not because I wanted one. The store had zero models in stock without a camera. Anyone using cell phone sales numbers as evidence of customers demand for camera phones would need to consider non-availability of non-camera models.

  2. Daf L


    Phones can already record HD video and transfer is direct to the TV.

    The Samsung Omnia HD for instance:

    I think this guy is a little out of touch with reality in more ways than one!

    1. Random_Walk


      He's not out of touch with reality... insofar as Nokia is concerned (note that the model you linked to is a Samsung... ;) ).

  3. Levente Szileszky

    More and more evidence of widespread idiocy and/or utter cluelessness at Nokia...

    ...seriously: phone camera vs DSLR?

    As a matter of fact DSLRs expected to start to eat into the consumer camcorder market, thanks to better and better video recording capabilities (provided they will fix the current utterly choppy AVCHD codec.)

    Even the best phone cameras (SE Satio this year, Samsung Memoir last year) can only match the quality of a good P&S unit and only in daylights/good lighting.

    Nokia is badly out of touch, there's more and more evidence they little clue about the direction the mobile market is moving (horrible investments, rather average advanced phones sold as "smartphones", crazy linux-based ideas for phones etc.)

    1. Disco-Legend-Zeke

      At The...

      ...NAB show, many makers of support devices (booms, steadycams, etc.) showed their rigs with DSLR's rather than traditional video cams.

      In the middle, cameras that look like common pocket digital, but ptoduce 14 Megapixels.

      beer, because

    2. Mark 65

      More than that

      The season finale of a US tv series (House, maybe?) was shot entirely using a Canon 5D MKII which has absolutely incredible HD video quality (presumably because of the quality of the glass in front and the full frame sensor behind). It certainly beats the arse off of my consumer HD camcorder.

      1. Steve Evans

        Nikon D3S

        You should see the high ISO HD video shot by the D3S, I wish I still had the link, they did a side by side comparison with various video capable DSLRs. The D3S has the most amazing ability to see in the dark, and even when there is noise it's far more organic and acceptable than the Canon's.

        A room full of professional video cameramen and production staff sat there going "WTF?!!!!"

        1. chr0m4t1c

          Yes, good idea

          Let us try and turn this into a Nikon v Canon flame war, there aren't enough of them in the photographic forums already.

    3. Bruno Girin


      > crazy linux-based ideas for phones

      I guess you've never tried Maemo then? The N900 is by far the best phone I've ever owned. No it's not perfect, yes it has its own idiosyncrasies and glitches but as a smart phone it kicks arse.

      On the other hand, I do agree that other recent Nokia offerings have been very disappointing. That's probably due to bad planning and Nokia finding that the current version of Symbian is now past its sell-by date and badly in need of a revamp, while Maemo is not quite ready for prime-time. Don't discount them quite yet though, at least when it comes to making phones. Now, when it comes to making cameras... I'll keep my DSLR thank you very much.

  4. JB

    Worse and worse

    Cameraphones and other cheaper digital devices just make me wonder where recording technology - audio, photos and video - is going.

    Remember when recording quality was getting better and better: like domestic reel-to-reels with muffly sound developing over the years into chrome dioxide cassetes with lovely sound quality, now we have 128k lossy digital mp3s, but nobody seems to care.

    Same with video: used to have an 8mm cine cmera with blurry, wobbly pictures and no sound; then the video camera in a shoulder bag, then stuff like hi-8 and mini DV. What do we have now? Jerky, blocky video taken on a mobile phone, no better than the cine cameras of 40 years ago.

    Whatever happened to 'progress'?

    1. jake Silver badge


      To be honest, when you think about the earbuds that they listen to their tunage thru', and the itty-bitty screens that they watch their videos on, there is no real point in making the original recording worth listening to or watching on real equipment.

      Ever try listening to a favorite old album on the original vinyl[1] back-to-back with the same thing as an MP3 over a high-end audio system? Now ask me why I don't own an MP3 player.

      [1] All my vinyl was recorded to half-inch tape on the first or second playing. I make my "working" copies from the tape.

    2. Matt Piechota


      <i>Remember when recording quality was getting better and better: like domestic reel-to-reels with muffly sound developing over the years into chrome dioxide cassetes with lovely sound quality, now we have 128k lossy digital mp3s, but nobody seems to care.</i>

      See, you remember reel-to-reel and I just remember seeing 8-track and LPs in the 70s. For people that do care, there are plenty of great audio formats now. As for video, how many awful VHS camcorders were sold in the 80s and 90s as opposed to 8mm film?

      The masses never really cared about quality.

  5. Wibbly Wobbly

    I don't understand...

    Maybe for snaps. And for people who use DSLRs for snaps.

    For the rest of us, when Nokia start feeling the pain from Apple, Android, RIM, etc they decide Nikon and Canon are better targets? Go figure?!?!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not just

      For people who use DSLRs for snaps.

      I'd class myself as an advanced snapper (I'm aware of the technicalities and can, if pressed remember how they work together) but even I appreciate the quality of my DSLR over the crappy camera on the Nokia I just trialled and got rid of. Hells, I can produce better pics from my 9 year old Nikon E775 compact(ish) than from my mobile camera.

      Whilst technical ability can give you a better picture with any camera, a better camera *can* give a better picture to most people.

      After trialling the Nokia X6 a month back and being massively disappointed, I can honestly say I don't think I'll ever bother with Nokia again so it comes as no surprise that their staff make idiot comments like that.

  6. Dagenhamdave

    Anyone who uses SLRs knows it's all about the lenses

    Camera Phones are a decent replacement for compact cameras, but will never replace SLRs.

    The man is a fool.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No they are not!

      My 5mp phone camera is absolute rubbish compared to my 4-year-old Canon 5Mpx camera. Oddly, it takes superb close-ups, but is useless for any scene bigger than a room.

      Even the hardly-any-pixels stills that my old camcorder takes are better than phone pics.

      One day, yes... and I look forward to it... but I don;t think that day is in site yet.

      Like you say: the man's a fool. Maybe he never took any photographs!

      1. Mark 65


        Laws of physics - utter bastards. That teensy lens on the camera phone is like a diffraction grating. Let's not get into the cross photosite interference from the poxy little sensor.

  7. Tim Hale 1



    Ye cannae change the laws of physics.

  8. Paul RND*1000

    Um, no.

    I know he's pushing their products, but it's painfully obvious the guy knows bugger all about cameras and photography if that's really what he believes. By extension, neither does Nokia unless he's gone rogue PR on them.

    Now if I'm going to buy a camera, even one built into a phone, I'm not going to buy it from a company this clueless about cameras.

  9. jake Silver badge

    Thus neatly proving ...

    that Marketing isn't really aware of how technology works.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Smart people need to learn how to keep their mouths shut.

    Sure - For the masses, crappy pictures may be acceptable but for anyone who owns an SLR today will continue appreciate the huge quality difference of an SLR and its lenses over a camera phone.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Depth of Field

    You get that with big sensors and big lenses.

    Classroom Experiment:

    Try taking a picture with a point and shoot at maximum aperture (minimum number).

    Now, take the same picture with a modern SLR, set to its maximum aperture.

    This is a big reason why medium-format backs are so hot for product shooters. They are big-ass sensors, and big-ass (expen$ive) glass.

  12. Daedalus

    Starts with 'M'

    The key word in the article is "Marketing". It starts with the same letter as "Moron".

    1. Anonymous Coward


      That spells "Marketing"

  13. John Armstrong-Millar

    Well he has a point

    I don't know how many readers of the Reg are Flickr users but a quick look at the camera finder function reveals what the good Mr Vanjoki is really worried about. There is another very popular camera phone which at the moment seems unstoppable, Not the Regs' favourite phone but scary for anyone in the camera phone business as it's only going to get better (or worse) depending on how one views these things.

    For those who are not Flickr members or can't be bothered to look. The most popular camera on Flickr is the Apple iPhone (yes that was camera) As for smartphones.. "Don't even go zerr" it's not pretty..

    1. Bruno Girin

      Lies, damn lies and flickr statistics

      The flickr camera finder function provides stats as a percentage of members, which is very misleading. How many members use several cameras and therefore contribute more than once to the stats? I for one use 3 on a regular basis: a camera phone, a decent compact and a DSLR. Even when this is taken into account, I would argue that popularity based on the number of pictures taken by a particular model of camera, rather than the number of members who own that camera is actually a more relevant statistic.

      But even assuming that the flickr statistics are actually meaningful, you can't fail to notice that even though the iPhone 3G is the first camera model based on the number of members that own it, the following 4 models are all DSLR. This would tend to confirm the analysis of a number of people here: the camera phone is no real threat to the DSLR but rather to the point and shoot compact.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    Well, given that Nokia seem to have forgotten how to make mobile phones that don't fall to bits or lock up, and whose backups actually f'king finish rather than fail with no reason given, I am not sure how far I'd trust them with other forms of technology.


  15. IR


    It's like saying that the motorbike will replace cars.

    I can see compact cameras dying out since people won't want to carry both, but not an SLR.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yet another prediction of the end of the SLR

    my guess Nokia will die first

  17. Robert E A Harvey

    And in other news

    The availability of the Sinclair C5 causes Aston Martin, Morgan, and Range rover to go out of business.

    1. Wommit


      Morgan and Rover have gone out of business.

      And AM is looking a bit shaky.

  18. Sajjad Syed


    Spoken like a true photographic illiterate.

  19. Craig Vaughton

    You can just imagine it...

    Imagine all the press hacks jockeying for position at some event or other, thrusting their latest N99 or whatever at the assembled celebs, or the sports mob entrenched behind the goal at Wembley, forsaking their fully weatherproof Eos1D MkIV's and fast 300mm L series lenses etc (Say £7000 of kit?) for a camera phone. I suspect not.

    JB. As for Chrome Dioxide tapes having lovely sound quality? Nakamichi Dragon or the like to play them on or not, even I'd rather have MP3. MP3 over vinyl, that's different!

  20. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Nano dots and liquid lenses

    The mobile phone market brings volume and while mobile phones will never replace high-end they are already attracting lots of R&D due to their unique constraints. Lenses don't have to be large and heavy and censors don't have to be large.

    Not that most people will care but many of these innovations will start in the phone and move up to the SLR.

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Yes the do have to be large

      Diffraction only quits being a problem in the near field (as in NSOM (Near-field Scanning Optical Microscopes)). Otherwise -> big surface area = better S/N + better resolution (if properly corrected by whatever means). Improvements can be made in weight/bulk, but aperture is irreplaceable.

  21. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    >It's like saying that the motorbike will replace cars

    No cos motorbikes are better than cars !

    It's like saying segways will replace cars cos they have smaller wheels!

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "No cos motorbikes are better than cars !"

      Really? Tell you what, I'll race you then. The race is to get a wardrobe from Ashford to Maidstone. I'll take my Focus Estate 1.6. Bet I win.

      1. Albert Gonzalez

        At what time and conditions ?

        Rush hours perhaps ?

        he he he

  22. N2


    Dont make DSLRs do they? just like Cannon & Nikon dont make telephones

    Just as relevant for Nikon to state the telephone as we know it is doomed

  23. NoggintheNomad


    I'd never use a telephone camera for anything but emergencies. The 'big lenses' are there for a reason - basically they are needed for capturing quality images. I've never seen a mobile phone picture that was anything but crap, in terms of resolution, quality of capture or anything else. Phones are great for the simpletons who only want snaps of their drunken friends on drunken nights out, but for true photography... I still carry a wonderful old Pentax 35mm manual camera as well as my Fuji DSLR. The weight is worth it.

  24. jim 45

    good article

    Thanks for deflating this marketing balloon.

  25. Volker Hett

    Yeah, sure!

    And those improvements will never end up in any larger sensors.

    Hm, one more thing, the laws of physics still apply, don't they? How will they build a lens and a sensor resolving at a fraction of a wavelenght?

  26. Real Ale is Best

    "There will be no need to carry around those heavy lenses,"

    So says someone with no clue about optics.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    It's all about the glass !

    Smart prosumers invest more in the glass than the bodies.

    Nokia nuftie

  28. Adam 38


    The number one reason why I will never have a DSLR for the foreseeable future is that I can't carry it around, especially if I was going clubbing or something. The battle is then between camera phone and digital compact. Now THAT is a battle which I think the camera phone is gonna win. All that's missing is a decent flash and minor lens/sensor upgrades.

    I've taken so many snaps of funny things and great memories with my phone which I otherwise would have missed. Simple because of the fact that I always have it with me. More to the point, I'm not gonna attempt to shoot HDRI's or desktop backgrounds without getting something appropriate.

    Photos: DSLR

    Everything else: decent camera phone

    1. The Flying Dutchman

      going clubbing


      I do take my DSLR out clubbing. A modest 400D, but still: concerts, mosh pits and all.

      And with an old, big Metz external flash fitted to boot.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        For clubbing

        nothing beats the heft and swing you get out of a long telephoto, preferably with a hefty SLR attached

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Actually, advanced users..

          ..use an old 1960s Russian camera, screwed securely to the end of a collapsed steel monopod.

          Actually, just my Manfrotto monopod on its own is a perfectly terrifying shillelagh- just as well that I'm generally carrying a camera too, and thus have a plasuble story for the dibbles.

  29. Matt Brigden

    Dear Nokia

    Please produce a cameraphone that can take a good quality picture in what us people that live in the real world call normal conditions . That is without the benefit of perfect lighting . I detest using my phones camera indoors for just that reason . Maybe you would be better off trying to make a decent camera make calls ? Surely that would be easier ......

  30. Fluffykins Silver badge

    To badly misquote:

    People in phone houses shouldn't throw glass.


    1. jake Silver badge


      You are not sorry. At all. And shouldn't be. Thanks for the giggle :-)

  31. Anonymous Coward

    the camera on *my* phone isnt crap

    cameras in phones vary greatly in quality

    Getting in closer (to allow the flash to reach) and holding the damn thing still (and the subject, to a lesser extent), solves the "blurry night out" problem.

    Comparing current cameraphones with DSLRs is a bit daft. You already know why. Predicting that one day cameraphones will match DSLRs is less daft. Which is what this bloke was doing.

    DSLRs are like photoshop - both are expensive toys unless your gonna be doing that sort of thing for a living.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not that expensive

      Cameraphone problems are (to an extent) down to the laws of physics so its difficult to see how they will be overcome without a radical overhaul of the system - not the incremental improvement Nokia seem to be implying.

      In your example, the flash output on a phone is terrible, and that it is without the effect on the battery, so yes, if you want a picture of your mate asleep in the pub you can move closer. This is a situtation people would *rarely* (The Flying Dutchman aside) use a DSLR for. Holding a camera phone still is, on the whole, harder than holding a DSLR still - again laws of physics and the shape of your hands dictate this.

      Camera phones can easily dominate the digita compact market - to an extent they already outperform a lot of the low end compacts (say the sub £60 market) - but the chance of them matching a DSLR is vanishingly small. Try taking a frame filling picture of the full moon on any digital compact - yet it can be done handheld with my DSLR.

      Physics aside, the advances that allow the camera phone to improve will also be used by DSLR manufacturers so should a Nokia N9999 or whatever one day match the capability of my mid-range DSLR, flash and lenses (10mm - 500mm), the DSLR's available will also have improved by (one assumes) the same degree.

      Crucially, DSLRs are not that expensive. Yes a Hassleblad will set you back the price of a car but you can get an entry level Cannon, Nikon or Pentax (etc) for around £300 along with an 18 - 55mm lens. Throw in £10 for a PAYG phone and you can get a great camera and phone for less than £400. Compare that to an iPhone PAYG from O2 for £449.

      Phones appear cheap (if you dont get the latest model) because we spread the payments out over the 24 month contracts the phone providers have foisted upon us. Even then the iPhone is £249 plus £25 a month from O2 (total over 24 months £849).

      Phones are like photoshop - both are expensive toys unless you are going to be doing that sort of thing for a living.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        C, A, N, O, N! It winds me up when people spell it wrong, and I don't even have any Canon gear.

        Once again: CANON! Sheesh: you managed to spell Nikon and Pentax.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      As Someone Who Works in Image Processing for a DSLR-Producing Company...

      I feel strangely...not this.

      I think he's right. With advances in materials science in lenses, filters, sensors, coatings and image processing algorithms, one day, cameraphones will probably enjoy the same level of image quality and resolution as today's SLRs.

      However, by that time, DSLRs will, as today, be leaving the phones in the dust in a million ways.

  32. Blog
    Gates Horns

    about as ridiculous as "640 K should be enough for anyone"

    As a photographer myself who has 2 DSLR's, 10 lenses and a point & shoot. This guy doesn't know which planet he is on. There is no way in this world or on this planet that any pro photographer is going to even think of using a camera phone to handle the work load of shooting a set of shots to be processed for his work project.

    This is about as ridiculous as the comment Mr. Gates once said. "640 K should be enough for anyone. Now look at where we are. Our super computers are approaching 640 terabytes. Boy, did he lack vision then.

    DSLR's will always be far more superior to any other type of camera. Like many have already said, it's the lenses and how the picture source is handled that makes a superior shot, not megapixels.

    Most pro photographers don't mind carrying 4 - 10 Ibs of DSLR equipment around their neck to get that perfect shoot. Anyone else will complain, and will use lighter equipment like a camera phone to take their personal shots, which is perfectly fine for such.

    1. jake Silver badge


      "This is about as ridiculous as the comment Mr. Gates once said. "640 K should be enough for anyone."

      False quote. Gates never said that. On the other hand, I personally remember Steve Jobs saying that "128K ought to be enough for anybody", at a meeting of the Homebrew Computer Club in late 1983, as he was demonstrating the original 128K Mac, just before the public unveiling. At the time, he had a point ... people were running flight simulators in 64K!

    2. Steve Robertson


      I have been using SLR's for 25 years and for the last 5 years DSLR's, the quality of the photographs was always a contentious issue & photographers claimed DSLR's would never take over from SLR's, 10 years down the road we're getting there now.

      You'd have to be mad to say nothing will be superior to a DSLR...on the contrary there are some pretty good devices out there now that are arguably better then DSLR's.

      I've seen some stunning medium format pictures that make DSLR's like decidedly mediocre.

      In the short term I would agree with you, no camera phone is as good as a DSLR, I wouldnt be so bold to say the same in 3-4 years time.

      Technology is reaching a peak and the rate of developments are staggering.

  33. Adam 38

    @ Blog

    640K memory for "anyone". Now 8GB memory should be enough for "anyone". Don't know where you get your 655,360GB number from.

    1. Blog

      do some research before you challenge.....

      A little off topic now but......

      Take a look at this web site describing a Cray computer that when completed in 2008 will have over 400 Terabytes of working memory besides other things beyond your everyday computer with 8 gigs ram. This is an old article from 2006.

  34. Adrian Esdaile

    "There will be no need to carry around those heavy lenses,"

    Ahahahahaha ahahahahahahhahaha ahahahahahahhahaha haahahhahahahahahahhahahahahahha ahahahahhaha ahahaha


    aahhahahahah ahah ahahahhahahahahahah ahahahhahhahahaa

    stop, it hurts

  35. Tom 35

    The only good thing about a camera phone...

    Is that you always have it. There have been lots of good news shots that only exist because of phone cameras. A crappy photo is better then no photo.

    On the down side we also get stuff like

  36. iffer

    don't be so quick...

    There are some really interesting advances in optics and processing. Sure nokia couldn't make a camera phone that is a miniture DSLR - thats silly talk. But what about an array of 5Mp sensors each with a steerable micro lens. Lets say they cover the top third of the smart phone with these say 48 sensors over 3x3cm - do some array processing and you have an effective 3x3cm sensor.

    A fluid micro lens system means you could have control on field of view (zoom) and limited directionality.

    Want DOF? thats an array calculation, no problem. Want portrait quality? Use a couple sensors zoomed wide for scene and the rest zoom tight to capture fine detail on the subject area. Want high contrast? Vary the sensitivity of some of the sensors.

    Sure, array/aperature calculations are rocket science - but certainly possible with fast enough chips

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Ye cannae break the laws of physics capt'n

      A phased array design you seem to be proposing works fine in radio for three reasons: (i) wavelengths are long so mechanical tolerances are fairly relaxed, (ii) photon counts are HIGH, due to low energy per photon, and (iii) phase can be measured. This allows digital correlation of the signals. All three properties are lost in visual range. Optical heterodyning is very difficult and requires very bulky equipment. Getting solid optics down to the tolerances need is hard, fluid is worse. If the ESO Very Large Telescope in finds it hard to do, I do not think a portable version will be around soon

  37. Tristan Young

    What an idiot

    Obviously this guy has no clue about how cameras work.

    The miniscule lens on those idiotic camera-phones have no-where near the light gathering or resolution of a large, bulky DSLR camera.

    Even if they were to magically get the optical resolution (not to be confused with Megapixels), clarity, and somehow invent light out of nothing, they would never be able to provide decent magnification.

    Those toy CCD chips in the camera phones are so small vs. their megapixel resolution, it's amazing they work as well as they do - they are the noisiest little chips I've ever had to work with.

    As an owner of a camera phone, a pocket digital camera, a larger digital camera, and a professional DSLR camera, I'll tell you - the image quality is night-and-day, as you go up the scale.

    There's a reason why DSLR's are as good as they are. There are reasons why professionals also shoot with Hasselblad medium-format cameras with digital backs.

    I always knew Nokia was loosing it's place in the world. I've pretty much given up on this pathetic shell of a company. To say camera phones will supplant DSLR's is utter lunacy.

    Now I can officially add Nokia to the growing list of companies that have no respect for the technology, or our intelligence. I look forward to a Nokia-free future.

  38. Kym Farnik

    Yeah - right

    The physics of light dictate that a bigger lens is going to do more for you than a smaller one.

    Sensor size (pixel size) is another physical factor (consider the limit of diffraction issue)

    You can't bypass the laws of physics !

    So while phone cameras *may* impact compact camera sales in time (P&S), the DSLR with interchangeable lenses will be here for the rest of my life at least.

    In summary: happy snaps for sure; serious photography DSLR's rock!

  39. Allan George Dyer
    Thumb Up

    "Until the laws of physics change"

    I can see the manual now:

    "For optimum image quality, please position your camera phone at the event horizon of a black hole or take the photo within 3ns of the birth of the universe."

  40. MacroRodent

    Foldable solution

    "Fitting a sensor of that size into a Nokia cameraphone wouldn't only be difficult space-wise, but achieving the necessary lens-to-focal plane distance in a pocketable device would result in one frightfully lumpy pocket."

    While I agree with others that Vanjoki apparently has no clue about the physics of photography, I cannot resist noting that years ago I used to take lots of good shots with an old foldable 6x6cm-format camera, and it did fit nicely into the coat pocket. (For classic camera aficianados, it was an Agfa Isolette, one of the better models with a Compur shutter and built-in range finder).

    A cameraphone with a bellows system in the side? Maybe not bad idea.

  41. Aidan Samuel

    Nokia may be wrong

    and mobile camera phones will never be as good as DSLRs, but it's crazy to call camera phones "idiotic". The skill and effort it must have taken to fit a 5 megapixel camera inside something slimmer than my finger is just staggering.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The skill and effort went into designing the sensor. All nokia did was surface mount it to a PCB in front of a pin hole. anyone could do that.

  42. Steve Button Silver badge

    Don't be so quick to knock him.

    OK, saying that the dSLR is dead is a bit of an overstatement, but I just cannot see the average Joe wanting to carry one of these around any more. dSLRs will more and more become solely for enthusiasts and professionals. No?

  43. PrivateCitizen

    Real Cameras Rock

    Well when Nokia have a phone that can match my Nikon D300 with a 10mm lens and a 500mm lens (and every step in between), as well as matching the lag and burst rates, I might be inclined to agree. However we would still have issues about stability, light levels, flash sync etc.

    Mobile phone cameras are great for their role but they are phones not cameras.

    Mobile phone cameras are to Digital SLRs what the old disposable compacts were to a film SLR. If you are on a night out its great to take a snap of your mates with your phone but try to spend a day shooting a wedding, then do a landscape shoot the next day, with a Nokia.

    I suspect this is some one at Nokia who knows less about cameras than they do about PR stunts.

  44. max allan

    You're missing where the market for photos is

    Where do "pro" photo's go? Newspapers and magazines are probably the main consumers.

    Newspapers of the "sun" ilk are starting to show more and more crap photos.

    More of them are moving to online services where the highest res images you can get are thumbnail sized in the middle of an article (maybe a few hundred pixels square).

    Some "photos" are just going to be taken from screen grabs of "HD" film. Which may still use nice glass on big cameras.

    So the mass market for pro photos is fading away and if you can't sell a good photo for much more than a bad photo, why would you spend the money on the expensive camera when you can use your phone?

    DSLRs are likely to end up like turntables. Still loved by a very small minority years after they've been replaced by something "better".

    (In fact the whole photo-journo thing is likely to disappear as everyone's got a camera that they can use to take juicier snaps than the pro's who look obvious when they get the DSLR out)

  45. lglethal Silver badge


    He's an idiot obviously.

    IF he had said camera phones would take over from compact cameras i dont think a person here would argue too much, with better lenses and maybe some special optics some are beginning to get to the level of low end compacts already.

    But to say DSLR's is ridiculous. The DSLR is designed with the pro (or keen amateur) in mind, and no piece of equipment which doesnt have the brilliant optics and large sensor of a DSLR will ever produce the required high end images that the pro needs.

    Typical marketing bollocks - take what was probably a reasonable comment provide by an engineer (e.g. "Our phone cameras will soon be better then standard compact cameras"), twist it out of all recognition into something stupid and impossible, and release to the market to great derision and ridicule. Now we wait for the next stage where the marketing twerp blames the engineer for giving him the wrong information.

  46. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Ye cannae break the laws of physics capt'n II

    No Nokia, you cannot take deep-space photos with your camera phone, and you cannot replace a 400 mm F5.6 APO telephoto with a lens that fits into a thimble.

    The guy probably believes the image enhancement effects in CSI.

    I get so tired of this sort of idiots (highly paid at that). For those still doubting:

    The first issue is all about photon counts. The noise in an image is determined (apart from detector noise) most fundamentally by photon noise. Because emission and detection of photons is a random process, the noise is equal to the square root of the number of photons detected. So if a pixel captures 100 photons, the expected noise is 10. If you capture 10000 photons the noise is 100, but the signal-to-noise ratio (S/N) is 10 in the first case and 100 in the latter. S/N is very important in image quality. This is why astronomers want BIG scopes, because doubling the diameter quadruples the amount of light, and doubles S/N.

    No matter of post-processing can alter these facts. I teach computer vision and image processing at the University of Groningen, and have worked quite a bit on developing ways to counter the effects of noise.

    The second issue is resolution: the limit of resolution is determined by the ratio of wavelength to aperture. This is why we are building a synthetic aperture telescope HUNDREDS OF MILES ACROSS for long radio wavelength. There used to be al sorts of wild claims on what deconvolution methods could do, but in the field it is now accepted that whilst you can enhance details that are faint (at the risk of increasing noise) you cannot reconstruct information that has simply been lost at the aperture of the lens.

  47. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    The point has already been made...

    But I thought that I'd also chip in and mention that this Nokia dude is talking utter crap.

    I think this company should now be forced to produce ALL marketing and promotional materials using their camera phones. We'll then soon see just how utterly out of touch this spoon of a bloke is. From then on all new Nokia marketing materials should carry the slogan :

    "Nokia cameraphones - for capturing the moment just after the moment you actually wanted."

  48. Matt 142

    MEMS Shutter

    Anyone remember this 'lil nugget of goodness?

  49. Magnus_Pym

    Market for DSLR?

    There is the professional market sure but it is very small. Someone earning their living from photography will always require good kit. Not the most expensive necessarily but the most cost effective. They will want a dedicated DSLR for the versatility and a new technique becomes fashionable there will be an add-on for the de facto standard DSLR. They won't have to ditch and replace.

    Then there is the amateur market. This goes professional-level-but-doesn't charge, who will probably have the same stuff as a professional, to the crap-but-talks-a-good-shot, who will buy the latest thing just for the bragging rights at the club/pub. Again DSLR's or whatever the newest craze is. They have a cupboard-full of previous must-have's.

    Then there is the biggest market of all. The gadget freaks more-money-than-sense guys who just buy stuff because it's there. They flit from one passion to another buying all the latest kit then get bored and move on. They have DSLRs, compacts, high end compacts, film cameras, camera phones, smart phones, underwater cameras, web cams etc because it was 'best' at some point, because it's what the professionals use and because they thought it made them look good. They also have carbon fibre golf clubs and Rolex/TAG watches. These are the people who buy 95% of the top end stuff and so create a mass market and so keep the price down to affordable levels for the others.

    Last of all the rest of us who want 'nice' pictures sometimes. you want something 'good enough' and convenient. we already use camera phones most of the time because it's what you have with you when the moment arrives.

    That's why you won't replace DSLRs with camera phones. The professional needs something versatile and dependable. The industry need the mass market to make it affordable and the mass market will always oblige.

  50. JamCam

    Ergonomics and weight

    Aside from the glory of good lenses and large sensors (the D700 continues to impress in the worst light), he ignores ergonomics, it's a lot easier to use a DSLR effectively than either a compact or a camera phone. The better DSLRs have had a lot of thought put into them as photographer's tools and once you've got past the intimidating controls become very easy to use.

    Also weight, which confers inertia and means professionals, particularly documentary and press photographers can handhold to an eighth of a second or less, on shorter lenses, irrespective of image stabilisation. Slower than this and subject movement becomes a big issue.

  51. DPWDC

    HD Video

    To be classed as "HD video" all you need is 1280x720 (just under 1MP). Shocks me that giving this quite low resolution a jazzy name can stir up so much excitement!

  52. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Utter tosh!

    I am sure Nikon/Canon/Olympus/Pentax/Sony are fully aware of the state of cameraphone tech!

    I own Canon 450 and 550 DSLRs and enjoy messing about for personal enjoyment. While I was staggered at how good a cameraphone can be when playing with my LG 520 (3MBP camera), it's never ever going even reach the cheaper quality of my low-end enthusiast kit, let alone a full on Nikon D3x or Canon 1D! DOF is most obvious thing that grabs you, the camera phone has no concept of DOF, preset and that's it! Great for snaps and some mid-range scenic shots in average light, but too bright/dark light and it's knackered!

    Another case of PR BS and ad-men pushing their products to make 'em seem better than they are!

  53. RegisterThis

    DSLR purchases are also subjects to demand ...

    ... and some of that demand may be changing. For example, increasingly media is no longer relying on pros (journalists or photographers) for their content and this includes photos and video.

    For a breaking story, first to the market footage of an event taken on a camerphone is going to outweigh not having had a 'reporter' with a DSLR who happened to be in the right place at the right time to provide people with a superb shot of the event. Everybody is slowly becoming a reporter.

    Also, with media and content increasingly online, bandwidth becomes more of an issue and some of the advantages of pictures taken well with a DSLR are negated after being heavily compressed.

    Physics says camera-phones will never match DSLR's unless they beef up significantly - but they may replace demand for them.

  54. Steven Jones


    Just to point out that not only is this guy reckless with statements about optics he is not exactly responsible on the road. Here is a story from the BBC of him receiving a world record speeding fine of 116,000 euros (although it would appear the Finnish speeding fines are fairly draconian).

    As far as big lense are concerned, they are there for a good reason. That's to gather light. There are plenty of reasons why you want to gather lots of light - telephoto lenses only capture light from a narrow field of view so the lens at the front has to be proportionately bigger (which is why f stops are the iris diameter divided by the focal length). You need lots of light to freeze action, to take pictures in low light and to keep shutter speeds high enough to cope with subject and photographer movement.

    Of course you can use a smaller sensor and shorter focal length which reduces the lens size required hugely. However, the absolute amounf to light is reduced too and, don't foget, light is quantized. That means the number of photons hitting each tiny photosite is so low as to introduce very substantial amounts of noise - that's absolutely inescapable and is just a matter of statistical arrival rates. It's not a theoretical problem - it's already an actual one as current sensors are already very efficient at photon capture. There is no technology that can ever overcome this - ultimately what matters for the base noise level is how many photons you can capture at a photocell site.

    That's without all the other issues related to size - diffraction effects, finite visible light wavelength, depth of field and various others.

    No cameraphone will ever be able to approach the performance of a modest DSLR in anything but optimal lighting conditions. That's period - not ever. Also, as sensor and optic technology improves so will the performance of DSLRs.

    nb. what might kill the consumer SLR bit of DSLR is exchangeable lens cameras with electronic viewfinders, but that's hardly the issue.

  55. Giddy Kipper

    @Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Wot he said....


  56. Tony 13

    Laws of Physics

    The Laws of Physics - How often people who have so little understanding of them quote them as some unbreakable barrier ! Ever heard of diffraction gratings or holographic lensing techniques ? (Think Ultra-thin super powerful lenses with no chromatic aberration issues - not currently available but will be one day - probably.)

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Laws of Physics

      "What a set of super power lenses" - Robin aka Boy Wonder, in "Batman", 1966

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, you've ALL missed the point...

    Nokia's point is this....

    They will sell so many crappy camera phones that the consumer (not pro sumer, not pro) no longer buys the cheaper end of the DSLR market, which means no big wads of cash for the DSLR makers, which means no R&D, which means no new models, which means no new cash, which means end of DSLR maker.

    He's not saying that camera phones will be any good, just that they will be good enough to suck all the cash out of the market place and let the big guys go bust.

    1. Eddy Ito

      Never happen

      The big camera makers won't be going bust any time in the near future. Simple economics 101, if the demand goes down either the price needs to go down or the supply needs to go down. Sure, maybe some won't make it but as long as there are higher end buyers providing a demand for DSLR cameras, there will be a supply. Not everyone will be satisfied with phone-ecam quality. It's a bit like saying the Instamatic killed 35mm. Likewise, saying DSLRs are doomed because of phone-ecam ubiquity is a bit... premature.

      To illustrate, I hereby announce that cell phones are doomed because I've put 3G, GPS and BT in a DSLR. Now you can take stunning photos and video of your vacation and share the experience in real time via a 3G link to your auntie on the phone, your friends on facebook and the world wide web at large. Now you too can be on the vanguard of the Web 2.718 twiddle-deeL33T! Buy your Vast Eddy cam today!

    2. The First Dave


      Actually, the reason why we all missed that point is because that _wasn't_ the point Mr. Nokia was making, partly because it is wrong. The most important factor in DSLR design is the lense. And that hasn't really changed much in the last century, so not much R&D spend required, unlike those trying to build tiny cameras, who are having to try and find ways to rewrite the laws of physics. Any real advancements that get made by the little guys are likely to benefit the DSLR boys as well, so no big crash.

      Don't think anyone has mentioned Depth of Field yet? That's another one where the Physics is pretty clear - small lenses get you closer to being a pin-hole camera, where _everything_ is in focus automatically. By far the majority of great photos are great because they are able to isolate the subject from the background, something that requires _limited_ depth of field, which can only ever be delivered by a big lense.

  58. Neil 38


    Whilst lens technology can improve, the big problem with small cameras is noise. To fight the megapixel and size war, the sensors have to become increasingly smaller with denser photosite layouts.

    They're now at the point where a single photosite is actually narrower than the wavelength of light it's meant to detect. This means that an adjacent site can end up detecting the light that was meant for its neighbour.

    Noise cancellation algorithms can go so far in trying to unravel the data, but can so easily get it wrong and usually end up removing detail.

    1. Magnus_Pym

      Lens, Focal Length, Blah

      OK so the large array is required but what about a reasonable size array with nanotubes to control the light incident on each element.

  59. Anonymous Coward

    defying the laws of physics... fluff

    ... can't wait to see Nokia actually do this!

    For those who aren't camera geeks, know this, it's impossible for a camera phone to create the same imagery as a SLR.

    To put it simply, it's the glass folks, it's the glass.

    And that's just *one* aspect of it.

    Strikes me that this is just marketing Fluff.

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Why the DSLR obsession

    As a person trained in photography I find it surprising to see so many people with very expensive DSLRs when I go on holiday. No doubt I will offend someone by saying this but I don't think these people really know how to use that camera properly. I think 80% of people who own a DSLR and for whom photography isn't their livelihood should really think harder before they purchase. I hear so many tales of people who's camera gets less than 1h usage a week and yet they have spent over £1000-£2000+ on their set-up. They then lug it round on holiday with them adding to their concern because they are worried about either capturing the right shot, missing a shot or loosing their camera.

    These people should buy a Canon PowerShot G10/G11. I have a G10 for holidays because it brings me pleasure, I can take manual photos with little effort and it has quality enough for personal snaps. Yes it doesn't have the finer control of an SLR but I am never going to billboard my snaps. Frankly most of the photographs I have seen people take with their SLRs are 99% tat. I think that >90% of the time people are dependent on the auto functions, not even bothering with focus or iris control.

    Yes, it is a hobby and yes you have the right to do what you want with your hard earned. But are you really sure you can't get the same benefit from a /decent/ compact? Wouldn't a /decent/ compact get more use? Wouldn't you be less worried about damaging/loosing a /decent/ compact? What else could you do with the £500-1500 you saved?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Money and fun

      "As a person trained in photography I find it surprising to see so many people with very expensive DSLRs when I go on holiday."

      Like everything people spend money on something for a variety of reasons. I see people with £200 smart phones that only use them to make calls. I see people with £1000 laptops and all they do is surf the internet.

      Personally I have a DSLR and I take it on holiday with me because I prefer to use it over a G10. That is the most basic reason. I also prefer the handling, speed and ability to change lenses. Also, judging peoples use on a snapshot of time might be leading to an error - if you see me on the beach with my camera, I wont take any pictures (dont want to be arrested etc) and you might think why did he bother buying it - however when we get out walking in the mountains, I am using it all the time.

      No, I am not a pro and I dont print billboard pictures out but when I do print a picture I want it to be the highest quality possible - if you dont why not get a cheap £30 digital compact from the super market? Just because *you* are happy with the level of control the G10 gives you (and are willing to trade off on future upgradability and future skill increase) doesnt mean everyone else should be.

  61. A. Lewis
    Black Helicopters


    I know it's good to have high aims, but that doesn't mean you should come up with your aims while you are high. This guy clearly is. Do you suppose he knows what a DSLR is?

  62. Jonathan Carlaw

    Will they even match Compacts?

    What has not been mentioned is that as the tech improves in camera phones, so will the tech in compacts.

    Look at the capability of the current compacts compared to the range 5 years ago.

    Sure, if compacts stayed static, then camera phones might catch up as sensors improve and perhaps new lens technology comes along - but as with all consumer electronics as each year goes by the top end becomes the mid range, the mid range becomes the budget, the budget becomes 'obsolete'.

    The computer power on a smartphone is far in excess of the original IBM PC, but strangely we still go and sit down at our desks to use some big, fixed PC rather than just work on our phones...

  63. No, I will not fix your computer

    Before his time

    My SE W810i phone does holiday snaps good enough for arsebook, but there is no phone camera (or compact) that can get anywhere near my 7D (10-22mm, 24-105mm F4L, 70-210 F2.8L, 400mm F2.8L, x1.4, x2).

    BUT... the best phone cameras can be better quality than the first consumer digital cameras AND a good compact (like my TZ5) can produce better pics than the first DSLRs

    The point is that IF the technology in mobile phones ever does match todays DSLRs (unlikely but debatable) then the DSLR will have moved on, my DSLR can produce broadcast/film quality Full HD video today.

    It's really important to note that digital is still trying to catch up (in quality terms) with anlogue, I could get a old bronica/mamiya medium format camera, some low ISO film for a few quid but you'd be paying four figures for an DSLR that could touch it for quality (and ability to blow the picture up), digital wins hands down for convienience, and one day soon when we have 50mp full frame sensors as the default the quality will be better, but not yet.

    Oh, and one word for those who know... "bokeh" (nuff said)

  64. Paul 131


    Print this wishi washi bullshit!

  65. Anonymous Coward

    Anssi Vanjoki's crystal ball

    Has Anssi Vanjoki ever got any predictions right? None that I remember. I'm astonished he still has a job at Nokia.

  66. Giles Jones Gold badge


    This Nokia guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

    Image sensor sizes will need to increase dramatically to produce the levels of noise that SLR users find acceptable.

    Nokia will have to implement 45 point autofocus, selectable focus points.

    People like the large lenses, they provide nice big tactile focus rings and zoom rings.

    Large lenses have lens hoods, soft focus filters, polarising filters etc..

    How are Nokia going to implement tilt shift lenses which are extremely good for taking photos of buildings without the inevitable perspective distortion.

    Many people like through the lens viewfinders. They also allow you to check depth of field by pressing the depth of field preview button.

    Camera phones triggering and syncing with pro flash guns? yeah right!

    Strobe flash for capturing motion? I don't think so.

    The list is endless. SLRs and mid format will never be replaced with a camera phone. You would look like an idiot if you pulled out a camera phone in a photo studio.

    Look at video cameras used by news teams, they're still massive even though you can shoot HD with a small handheld video camera these days. There's a good reason for this!

  67. Doug Glass

    Oh Yeah

    This is happening just like all the film cameras have totally disappeared. Simple marketing hype to make their pitiful product seem better.

    This dork is an idiot.

  68. Glesga Snapper

    Stop it...

    my sides are hurting!

    Seriously, I have only just stopped laughing enough to post this message.

    Someone tell this fool he's 21 days too late.

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm Photographer who dose not work for Nokia any more

    I guess if the top guys at Nokia knew their $#!+ the company wouldn't be in the spiral it is in right now.

    I use a Nikon D700 and I take my photography seriously enough to walk around world cities with over 10Kg of lens on my back. if camera phones had any hope I would have made do with a half way solution that would have at lest had me hoist lighter lens.

    Ansi; go home chop some fire wood and enjoy the Finish winter and make space for people who understand the business to run it.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, real likely

    I expect to see professional wedding photographers, landscape artists and the sports photographers you see on the sidelines with $6000 lenses to scrap their equipment and replace them with a camera with a 6mm lens any day now.

    Maybe Nokia could put their money where their mouth is; next time Nokia puts together artwork for marketing, ad, brochure, whatever, please take all the photographs with a camera phone. I think you'll quickly find out that camera phones have incredible limitations.

    Even all this leaves out the incredible creative versatility of the SLR. I've used my SLR totally without anything people would recognize as a lens. Pinholes, handmade bellows, etc. And the ability to use 3rd party specialty lenses for artistic and scientific work is one place where SLRs are absolutely irreplaceable.

  71. John Ridley 1

    Meanwhile, Nokia engineers...

    ...are reading what this guy said, facepalming, shaking their heads and saying "oh, Christ, what a moron. I bet he's going to want us to do this now." I've worked for companies where the officers and sales people will talk sunshine out of their ass and sell absolutely anything totally without regard to whether it's even physically possible or not. I'm sure the engineers at Nokia are thinking the same thing right now.

  72. Dave 13

    DSLRs are much more than sensor

    It's not a replacement, but a merger. I think you'll see DSLR cameras at the upper end (Canon/Nikon, etc) begin to have more communications and computing functions in the near future. Today's DSLRs are *much* more than just a sensor with some glass in front. I'll admit that mobile phone cameras have come a long way, but would you film your daughters wedding with one?

    To see what someone who knows what he's talking about is thinking, look at Thom Hogan's site:

  73. Alan Plastow

    Half-a%$#$ photos R us!

    You are probably correct in a rather "not so aware" manner - but you are also missing the point. That point is a potential image quality that reaches WAY beyond an 11-year old with a camera phone in the thirty-seventh row of the rock concert.

    Single Lens Reflex cameras are designed to create - camera phones are designed to entertain. There is an enormous difference. A competent photographer (sometimes, even incompetent ones) can "craft an image" with a SLR - modifying depth of field, degree of perspective, even "bending the light" to create something incredible.

    Camera phones, on the other hand, are designed to take purty pikiturs in a reactive manner - most of which are almost immediately disposed of. In our ever-more shallow society where quick, purty, sloppy and disposable are rapidly overcoming "craft" in nearly every endeavor, camera phones are a perfect mediocre fit.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All those comments...


    Perhaps the point he was trying to make is that he expects camera phone pictures to become as good as the CURRENT generation of DSLR. Now, the lens issue is a tough one, but image post processing can help greatly here, and that just a matter of processor speed and good algorithms. Take a look at some of these from the latest Nokia phone

    I sure many will agree that those pictures are easily good enough for most peoples usage. And that is with current tech. They can only get better. But never as good as the DSLR's from the same ERA. Well, perhaps not.

    I would take issue with the last line on the article also - HD video on the current generation phones is 720P 30fps (Instint Dash 2 is best of these). It will be 1080P at 30 fps soon given rate of tech change, the next generation after taht 1080P 60fps etc etc. The era of block camera phone video is over. Even the 720P stuff is very impressive, and again, it can only get better.

    As someone once said- Never say Never.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like