A Pixel's Worth a Thousand Words as Digital Photography Takes Off
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Forget that old film camera. It's a pixel that's worth a thousand words these days as more and more consumers become familiar with the advantages of digital photography and prices for the advancing technology drop.
In just a few short years, digital cameras have captured 13 percent of the worldwide camera market. Electronic images now rank second only to e-mails as the most-shared personal content on the Internet, according to InfoTrends Research Group.
Succinctly put, "We are on the threshold of... an era of personal visual communication," InfoTrends analyst Michelle Lampann said in a recent report.
Research firms have been forced to boost their estimates of digital camera sales. Infotrends recently predicted digital camera sales in the United States alone will double this year to nearly 7 million units.
Digital cameras capture an image by separating it into tiny bits of information, called pixels. The more pixels a camera can create to store an image, the sharper and clearer the image.
One advantage of digital cameras is that most come with view screens that allow users to instantly see the image they've just captured so they can keep only the images they want.
And because the images are electronic, editing software can easily manipulate images to crop them, paint over red eyes, add effects or create collages.
"You can do a whole range of things that were quite difficult to do before," notes Willy Shih, president of Eastman Kodak's digital and applied imaging division. "It opens up a whole new world."
The added features are a hit with consumers, who are using the equivalent of 30 rolls of film a year with digital cameras. That compares to 10 rolls of traditional silver halide film that must be processed, according to Kodak, the world's largest photography company.
Michael T. Miller, a networks system consultant for San Francisco- based FuseNetworks, is one convert. He recently bought a Canon Elph digital camera for $599.
"The idea of being able to get up to 450 shots in one camera without changing film or without having to send it out for processing and going back to pick it up made a huge difference," Miller said.
"You can have all the images downloaded within a view minutes to your computer, then can e-mail them off to friends and family or print them out."
The demand for digital cameras is so strong that some manufacturers are having a hard time keeping up, particularly with supply constraints on some components.
"The only question for the remainder of the year is, `Will manufacturers be prepared to meet the insatiable appetite that consumers have for digital cameras? …