Okay, Let’s Call Internet-Connected, App-Equipped Cameras “Smartcameras”

One major trend in the camera industry this year is the introduction of mobile operating systems such as Android into digital cameras. By opening the door to things like Wi-Fi, data plans, and apps, camera makers are going in the same direction that phone makers went some years ago, turning their devices into what can best be described as portable computers with specialized functions (e.g. voice-calling, photography).

While covering the trend, we’ve been at a loss for what to call the new cameras. After calling the Samsung Galaxy Camera a “voiceless phonecamera” in our hands-on first-look yesterday, commenters suggested that we call the device a “smartcamera”. Bingo… that’s the term we were looking for.

It’s strange that the camera companies and the press haven’t jumped onto this term yet, since it describes the new cameras in a way that’ll make a whole lotta sense to the general public. After all, over 50% of American mobile users have already adopted smartphones.

Here’s how Wikipedia defines “smartphone”:

A smartphone is a mobile phone built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity than a feature phone.

Just replace every instance of “phone” with camera, and you have an apt description of what we’re seeing in new cameras this year:

A smartcamera is a compact camera built on a mobile operating system, with more advanced computing capability and connectivity than older digital cameras.

There isn’t currently a Wikipedia page for this term. “Smartcamera” does have three syllables though, so “smartcam” might be catchier… but “cam” has always sounded a little cheaper than “camera” to our ears.

Engadget has an interesting editorial that predicts that these new smartcameras will save the point-and-shoot industry from extinction:

The upper echelon of the point-and-shoot segment will be led by cameras that can connect to the web from anywhere, while doubling as full-fledged communication and manipulation devices — smartphones that enable everything but telephone calls. Last month, the digital compact was an endangered species. Today, it’s dumb cameras that need to listen up — there’s a new Galaxy being formed, and it’s suiting up for war.

Smartphones and large sensor digital cameras have definitely been choking the life out of “dumbcameras” as of late, but point-and-shoots have the advantage of being able to do something that bulky DSLRs likely won’t ever do: become “smart”.

  • Smart-DSLR

    “but point-and-shoots have the advantage of being able to do something that bulky DSLRs likely won’t ever do: become smart.”

    LOL, just wait…

  • Michael Zhang

    Android and a giant touchscreen on a DSLR? :)

    The compact cameras going “smart” have been eschewing physical controls in favor of giant touchscreens. If DSLRs go that way, I’d find that to be a bit sad, wouldn’t you?

  • Johnewing

    Samsung use the term smart camera in their advertising campaigns in the uk already.

  • Michael Zhang

    Right, but those cameras don’t actually have a mobile OS… just Wi-Fi. You need to pair them with a smartphone for full functionality:

  • Ed

    I think it’s all right: smart camera – dumb photographer. Smart photographers don’t mind using a ‘dumb’ camera (w/o touchscreen) as long as it has shutter and aperture controls. People who just want to take pictures don’t necessarily call themselves photographers so I am not considering them (besides their being less likely to read this blog)

  • Ed

    I would

  • joel cleare

    Looks like an attempt to save compact camera’s. Smart phones are taking a huge chunk out of compact camera’s. Anyone including myself that purchaces a camera $400+ then image quality is king. If your an photo enthusists that shoots RAW then typically you wait untill you post process untill you share photos. Put android OS in DSL camera’s would be awesome.

  • fahrertuer

    Well, Canon already incorporated a touchscreen into the EOS 650D so I won’t be surprised when Android DSLRs start to appear

  • Jonathan Maniago

    While it’s true that more photographers should focus on developing skills rather than collecting gadgets, I don’t think it’s right to underestimate the advantages of using new technology either. If shutter and aperture controls were sufficient for pros, what reason would there be for the popularity of Magic Lantern?

    Personally, I’d welcome the inclusion of touch screens in more camera models since being able to instantly select the point of digital zooming for confirming focus would save people a lot of time when using Lensbabies or tilt-shift lenses.

  • newamericanclassic

    I can see ‘dumb’ point-and-shoots being almost wiped out in the near future, IF lower-end ‘smartcams’ come out priced at ~$150-200 (I mean, they have decent tablets now for $100-200).

    Either that, or smartcameras will never really take off exactly because the sort of people who would use them probably already own smartphones and tablets. And part of being intelligently designed is to minimize redundancies–i.e. a smartphone AND a smartcamera.

    If I want quality pics, I’ll tote my DSLR. Otherwise, for photosharing/social media apps I’ll use a phone/tablet.There’s a threshold between “I need high-quality images” and “I just need pictures that aren’t terribly grainy”, so if smartphones continually come out with better camera specs, the smartcamera might just bite the dust.

  • steve-o

    samsung had the term smart camera before every one else did, expect lawsuits everywhere!

  • Mansgame

    It makes perfect sense. Why try to reinvent something that’s already out there, is constantly being updated, and people are familiar with? This sort of standardization is good.

    I’m sure some features will start to appear on DSLR’s too. I was shooting an event last night with a bunch of hot drunk girls who were dying to get some of their pictures and were giving me their email addresses and such. I wish my DSLR had wifi so I could just send a JPG to them to get them off my back. Jeez, I’m not an animal, I was there to do a job, not get hounded by mini-skirts holding martini glasses.

  • Eman

    How ’bout “smarticams?”

  • Bruce_Mc

    They say that history is written by the winners. This doesn’t seem to be true in the camera world, otherwise we would have SLRs and FSLRs.

    So these new cameras will get some kind of catchy name for the next year or so. Maybe smartcams will catch on. In three years, most people will just call them cameras. They will replace what is now the standard point and shoot camera. The camera industry will continue to refer to them by whatever name catches on now.

    And yes, there will be connectivity and apps of some kind built into enthusiast cameras. Get ready for it.

  • Peter Burian

    What if you add the Mobile Adapter to a Nikon D600 or D3200 and get Wi-Fi? It does not become a totally smart camera, like one with an Android OS, but only a few compact cameras have an OS.

  • Peter Burian

    And the EOS 6D will have built-in Wi-Fi

  • Peter Burian

    Right …. so, what cameras are we calling Smart? Only those with an OS, like the Nikon s800C in my opinion. Two Nikon DSLRs gain Wifi with an adapter and the EOS 6D will have it built-in. Does that make them Smart cameras?

  • CreativityCorp

    ‘SmartCam’ does the job. At CreativityCorp we envisage SmartCams will be popular for business use where images are captured in context with data using our Mobile Data Studio software. Applications include home inspections, safety audits, asbestos audits, asset tracking, grafitti vandal identification, weed identification, environmental surveys, person identification and many other image and data combinations. The SmartCam will have a higher specification camera than the SmartPhone for zoom and macro. For business use, the cost of adding a SIM and account for 3G/4G connectivity from the field to the office is not an issue. And soon the SmartCam will have voice functions also for one business device in the pocket. The SmartCam will be a handy alternative to a SmartPhone for some business requirements.

  • Gethin Coles

    There is a name that works perfectly well for these cameras, and will continue to do so for the next decade at least: “cameras”. If there is a single camera left that isn’t “smart” in 10 years time I’ll eat my boots.

  • Christopher Miller

    For situations like this, carry a microSD-to-SD adapter card. Toss the microSD in the adapter, adapter in the camera, shoot your jpgs, place micro in phone, email. Problem solved.

  • Christopher Miller

    Bring along a microSD adapter card. Shoot jpgs on the micro, then pop it into your phone and email. Problem solved.