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Opinion: Has portable tech revolutionized the photography industry?

Christmas photography
Are photographers relying on smart devices more than ever? (Image credit: Mikhail Vasilyev on Unsplash)

You creep down the stairs in the early hours and peer into the living room. “He’s been, he’s been!” You race through piles of socks and jumpers, which reveal a stout box at the back of the tree. Could it be? Yes! It’s a new camera! 

You thumb through the manual while the battery charges and, as soon as the flashing amber light emits a solid beam, you whip off the lens cap and proceed to capture the few willing subjects. But when you tire of shooting blurry low-light pictures of grandma snoozing in the armchair, you’ll thank Santa for our 17 tips for getting your best Christmas photos yet (opens in new tab).

• Read more: Best photo apps (opens in new tab)

All joking aside, I don’t think any of us will be short of projects to shoot this Christmas. We’re all well versed at working around lockdown limitations, and I’ve been quite frankly amazed at the resourcefulness of photographers. But when I think back to Christmas days gone by, it’s apparent how far photography has come in the past 10 years. 

We talk about the digital and mirrorless revolutions as being the big game changers, but I think another revolution has slipped by unnoticed – and it has a lot to do with your smartphone. “Blasphemy!” I hear you cry. “Smartphones aren’t proper cameras.” But I’m not talking about your smartphone’s camera; I’m talking about unbridled access to the web, and the ability to pocket a plethora of apps. 

Christmas day is a prime example. It doesn’t matter whether you’re visiting the in-laws or going out for a morning stroll; with a Wi-Fi capable camera and a smartphone, you have everything you need to research, photograph, edit and share your pictures, all before the turkey’s cooked. 

I think we’ve really started to appreciate technology during lockdown. Camera clubs have continued to meet via video chat, photographers have directed shoots and run workshops over the internet, and it’s now easier than ever to use your camera as a webcam (opens in new tab)

Only now do I realize just how much I’ve come to rely on technology as a photographer. I use apps to plan shoots, consult online tutorials (or a digital copy of N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab)) when I’m out in the field, and I’m completely lost when calculating ND filter timings without the LEE Filters Stopper Exposure app. 

So, if you’re lucky enough to find a shiny new camera under the tree, give a thought to the endless possibilities we now have readily available. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas. Just remember to up that shutter speed and turn on image stabilization if you crack out the sherry!

Read more: 

Best camera phones (opens in new tab)
Best mirrorless cameras
(opens in new tab)
Best DSLRs (opens in new tab)

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Mike is Technique Editor for N-Photo: The Nikon Magazine (opens in new tab), and brings with him over 10 years experience writing both freelance and for some of the biggest specialist publications. Prior to joining N-Photo Mike was the production editor for the content marketing team of Wex Photo Video, the UK’s largest online specialist photographic retailer, where he sharpened his skills in both the stills and videography spheres.  


While he’s an avid motorsport photographer, his skills extend to every genre of photography – making him one of Digital Camera World’s top tutors for techniques on cameras, lenses, tripods, filters and other imaging equipment, as well as sharing his expertise on shooting everything from portraits and landscapes to astracts and architecture to wildlife and, yes, fast things going around race tracks.