Are Advanced Cameras Making Us Worse Photographers?

If you were to take a look through the specifications list of a new camera, it may well take a fair amount of time. In fact I advise you make a coffee, and perhaps have a snack at the ready too, before sitting down to scroll through down that formidable list. Why? Well, because today’s cameras are bursting at the seems with advanced technology.

Sure, the increase in megapixels is one thing, but it’s the smarter tech features that really blow the mind. Eye-detection autofocus, 5-axis stabilisation, GPS and Wi-Fi, time-lapse, touch-sensitive LCDs…the list goes on and on.


Modern cameras boast amazing features, but is this always a good thing? Image by Prasanna Kumar

To better evaluate just how quickly today’s cameras have advanced, I took a look back at the spec sheet of my first DSLR, the mighty Canon 350D. This list was considerably shorter; 8-megapixels, 7-AF points, 3 frames per second and a diminutive 1.8-inch LCD…and that’s about it. Now, there’s been a lot of debate recently about whether today’s advanced cameras are actually making photographers worse. And, by worse, we mean lazier and more reliant on tech and features, rather than basic photography skills.

It’s a tough question to answer. On one hand, there’s no doubt that taking a portrait with a camera using eye-detection is easier than taking one with the 350D and its seven lonely AF points. But here’s my opinion… as photographers it’s our job to use all the tools at our disposal to produce the best possible image. If using a feature on the camera gives me a better chance of achieving a more accurate focus, then I’m going to use it. Likewise, if 5-axis image stabilisation will help me get a steadier shot in low light conditions, there’s no way I’m going to turn it off… and the same goes for all the other features that stack the odds of capturing a great image in my favour.


Many believe that as tech gets smarter, our photography skills dull. Image by Rosaling Chang

I can understand why photography purists are making the argument. It’s fair to say that many photographers rush their picture-taking, relying on increased megapixels to crop in on a loosely composed frame, or wider dynamic ranges to correct a poorly exposed image. But these photographers existed back in the days of the 350D and even further back to the analogue years. Failure to observe the basic fundamentals of photography (exposure and composition) is nothing new – remember those advisory stickies processing labs used to add to your messed up prints?

Successful photographers will fuse advanced features with a creative eye, they will work with technology but not rely on it and when this happens, results are taken to a new level. Turn away from technology altogether and, rather than improve your photography, I’d argue you’d be placing yourself at a massive disadvantage in the market, with other photographers able to work more efficiently thanks to these advanced features.

The next few years will not doubt see even more futuristic features become a reality and find their way onto the cameras in our hands. I, for one, can’t wait to see what these features can do for my photography and how I can embrace them to make the most of the technology.