While the industry as a whole seems to think that you can merge a cell phone with a point-and-shoot camera and come up with an every day solution to photography, I think they are overlooking one key issue. No matter how good cell phone cameras become, the person taking the photo will always look at it as just that, a cell phone camera. The act of taking a photo is more meaningful than a phone call or text message. In many ways it is planned out and it is very much on purpose.
When you take the camera with you, you plan on that event being special enough to want to take pictures. You plan on grouping those pictures together later and printing them out or posting them to some social site. With a cell phone, they sit in limbo on your phones camera roll for ages. You never take the time to organize them outside of your phone, because they are just pictures that you took on your phone. They hold far less value than those you took purposefully, with your camera, that you then placed on your computer.
I think the difference between the cell phone camera and the dedicated camera goes beyond simply the quality of the pictures. It’s about events, moments and situations that you knew a camera was needed for. It’s about keeping those events grouped together and going back and remembering them, on purpose. It’s not about randomly flipping through your phone pictures and seeing what bubbles up.
While the expression “the best camera is the one you have on you” has never rang more true, I believe it’s primary use case is one that is spontaneous. For the birthdays and holidays, nothing beats a real, legitimate camera.