It's no secret that smartphones made by HTC, Samsung and Nokia feature cameras powerful enough to take on the consumer grade point-and-shoot variety.
However, from the looks of things, high-end professional grade cameras are next on the chopping block.
Shipments of "interchangeable-lens cameras" (or dSLRs) are predicted to drop 9.1 percent from 19.1 million last year to 17.4 million this year, according to research firm IDC. Two of the world's biggest makers of high-end cameras, Canon and Nikon, have both lowered their forecasts for sales in the fiscal year which ends in March. Even lens maker Tamron Co. lowered its profit outlook recently as it sold 22 percent fewer interchangeable lenses in the first nine months of this year than the previous year.
Inventory buildups and a weak global economy are being blamed for the decline. "We are seeing tough figures at the moment, but I don't think this will last forever," said Nikon Chief Financial Officer Junichi Itoh, during an earning's news conference on Thursday. "There still is potential demand, and I think China is the key."
Add the surge of high powered smartphone cameras, and trouble for the market could be at hand, said Tsugio Tsuchiya, general manager for Tamron.
"Smartphones pose a threat not just to compact cameras but entry-level dSLRs," Tsuchiya said.
Nokia announced the 41-megapixel Lumia 1020 Windows 8 phone in July matching features that were once exclusive to dSLRs. The ability to easily take photos with smartphone camera, edit them and upload them on various social networks like Instagram, are becoming increasingly appealing.
However, Canon spokesman Takafumi Hongo said that though cheap, compact cameras have definitely been affected, the superior photo quality of dSLRs cannot be matched by smartphone cameras.
"Taking photos with smartphones and editing them with apps is like cooking with cheap ingredients and a lot of artificial flavoring," Hongo said. "Using interchangeable cameras is like slow food cooked with natural, genuine ingredients."