ability to use more than one camera and editing software. Here is what I mean. My Nikon and my Sony digital cameras are Nikon and Sony hardware and software. My iPhone X is an Apple camera hardware and Apple camera software, but also Adobe Lightroom camera software and Night Cap camera software. If I wanted to I could add a dozen more camera and editing softwares to my iPhone.
This past fall when Apple introduced new iPhones much of the improvement in the camera was software related. Then in the last ten days Adobe launched a huge improvement to their Lightroom Classic software system that I used in line with my iPhone X camera. And all of the iPhone camera software works using an interactive touch screen. Three years ago when Nikon introduced a touch screen on the mid range DSLRs nearly all the camera reviewers commented that it made it much quicker and easier to change settings and to use in live view. I bought a Nikon D5500 because of the touch screen and have admired how easy this camera is to use since I bought it. I find it incredible that all new models of cameras do not have something like this. I recently rented a Sony A7R III and very much missed having a full featured touch screen on this high end device.
Even though my D5500 has a touch screen the software on this camera is limited to only using Nikon’s software. I would like to be able to add Adobe (or other software) to this camera. It is obvious to me that someone other than me is going to be able to see this soon and will shake the camera market by adding this ability. Or possibly a phone maker like Apple, Google, or Hauwei will offer a stand alone camera.
Today’s camera systems are much more complicated than a few years ago. It is a struggle for the camera companies to make both hardware and software that works well at a price people are willing to pay. If the camera companies made their models to be more open sourced for software it would make things easier for them. The camera makers could concentrate on getting the lenses right and software makers like Adobe and others can work on things like efficient transfer of photos and video to the cloud, or backup, or a computer. All cell phones do a good job of this and I don’t think any camera makers do.
Will it be easy to adapt something like Lightroom to a regular camera. No. It will take a significant software change. Even large rich software companies cannot do something like this easily. But lets just say Nikon worked with Adobe and their soon to be announced mirrorless camera had the ability to use software like an iPhone and also had a touch screen that worked as well as an iPhone. It would shock the industry and they would make lots of money. If it worked I would buy one. But I may buy the soon to be announced Nikon mirrorless anyway even if it is only a little better than my D5500 software. So I would guess that Nikon will not go this giant change and only update a little.
This leaves open the possibility of a smaller company or Sony to make this kind of a move. Sony could add this type of system to their cameras by adapting some of the technology from their cell phones. But Sony has left off a full touch screen and menu improvements to their brand new high end cameras so I will not be holding my breath for them to do it.
What I actually think the most likely outcome is that cell phone companies are going to keep improving and make larger cameras less and less relevant. I would guess that Apple and the other higher end makers will follow Hauwei and add a third camera to their phones. Adobe and others will keep improving their camera and editing software. And almost everyone will be satisfied with that outcome. I would guess that the best “photographers” edition phone would have a 28mm, 58mm, & 135mm equivalent lenses and be able to cover everything from wide angle to telephoto in the same system with high quality. Will it give the same detail as a Nikon D850 or Sony A7R III? No, but for almost everyone it will be good enough. And it will do 4K video too. My current iPhone X will do 4K video at 60fps. And the iPhone includes free editing software for stills and video. And it will send all the files to your other devices automatically.