A View from David Zax
Revenge of the Point-and-Shoot
Samsung wants you to know the camera isn’t dead yet.
The poor point-and-shoot camera. People have been predicting its death for ages. As smartphone cameras get better and better, goes the logic, people see less and less reason to stick a separate camera in their pocket or bag. Recent estimates say that smartphones take 27% of all photos nowadays (up from 17% last year). And what if you just need something better than what a smartphone can provide? At that point, you’re probably a serious hobbyist, and want to opt for a digital SLR; sales of such devices rose 29% between 2009 and 2010, according to a December 2010 story in the Times. (I’ll confess that I’ve phased out my own point-and-shoot in favor of the simplicity of my iPhone camera.)
But the point-and-click wants you to know it’s not dead yet, and it has its standard bearer in the form of the Samsung DV300F, which the company will be letting go for a reported $199. A few specs on the device, which The Verge calls our attention to: it’s part of the DualView line, with LCDs facing both forward and back (ideal for the self-snapping social media age), with 16 megapixels, 720p video at 30 frames per second, 5x optical zoom, and built-in Wi-Fi for easy sharing on Facebook and the like. There are also some “fun features,” to borrow a press release’s language, including a function that lets you insert one picture inside of another (not something I’ve ever personally felt inclined to do), and another one called “Funny Face” that “allows photographers to add goofy grins, comical noses or even crazy eyes to shots of friends and family in eight different modes.” The camera comes to stores in March.
The most interesting features of the camera are those dual screens and the built-in Wi-Fi; cameras have tried one or the other, but this is the first to combine both in one device, says CNET. The front-facing display has been specially designed to be practically invisible, camouflaged against the camera’s body, when not in use. In other words, if point-and-shoots are having to cast in their lot either with the iPhone crowd or the D-SLR crowd, Samsung, with this model, clearly seems to be opting for the former. Here is a device for Facebook-crazy tweens whose parents have decided a smartphone is too much of a distraction. Strict parents, in the end, may be what keep many obsolescent technologies alive.