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Forget Olympus — How Come People Are Still Bothering With Compact Cameras?



The recent announcement from Olympus that it’s dropping out of the compact camera market started us thinking: Why is anyone bothering to make those things anymore?

Certainly the image quality delta between a modern smartphone camera and a point-and-shoot has been somewhere between “negligible” and “who cares?” for a couple of years. And if you’re much concerned about image quality in the first place, you’ve already traded up to a Micro Four Thirds or better.


Why, indeed, would you clutter your purse or pocket with a separate device that by and large replicates a fraction of the capabilities of your phone?

A few theories off the top off our collective head:

#1: You sometimes/often take photos in situations that represent some risk of damage to the device — moisture, sand, clumsy hands, inquisitive kids… Sure, you could OtterBox your phone and theoretically make it impregnable to anything short of a nuclear attack. But that won’t be all that good for spontaneity. And anything short of bomb shelter protection will make you feel like you’re endangering the repository of your entire digital life. Nuke your little silver camera, and it’s a twinge of regret and trip to Wal-Mart.


#2: You find it clumsy and irritating to navigate a crowded touchscreen, especially when the alternative is an actual shutter button and companions. Laugh if you want, whippersnappers, but give it another 20 or 30 years and you’ll understand. Of course by then, we’ll all have Google Glasses embedded in our skulls…


#3: You take a lot of photos and are concerned about adequate power. Even the most consumer-friendly smartphones make it harder to swap out batteries than with a point-and-shoot. And we understand there are some smartphones that won’t let you change the battery at all without factory assistance.

And that’s about where our imagination runs out. Got any more ideas as to why anyone would buy a compact camera today?

Image credits: 8/365 * Baby Blue Compact Camera by susivinh, Yes You Can Yes You Can! by FaceMePLS, Oh My God It’s Bart Simpson! by FaceMePLS, What’s on his display? by FaceMePLS