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Sales of basic digital cameras fall as smartphones fill the niche

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Film is already passe for snapshots. Are inexpensive point-and-shoot cameras next to go?

According to a survey by NPD Group, 27% of photos and videos taken this year were shot with smartphones — up from 17% last year.

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Not surprisingly, sales of the basic digital point-and-shoot cameras suffered. According to NPD, unit sales of those cameras were down 17% in the first 11 months of this year.

But not all types of single-purpose cameras were losing popularity.

For the upper-level point-and-shoots — with optical zooms of 10x or greater and an average price of $247 — unit sales grew 16%, according to NPD’s Retail Tracking Service.

And digital single-lens-reflex cameras — with an average retail price of $863 — were popular enough that some camera shops were out of them the week before Christmas. Unit sales were up 12%, NPD said.

“The smartphone is becoming good enough much of the time,” said Liz Cutting, executive director and senior imaging analyst at NPD. “Consumers who use their mobile phones to take pictures and video were more likely to do so instead of their camera when capturing spontaneous moments.

“But for important events, single-purpose cameras and camcorders are still largely the device of choice.”

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-- Deborah Netburn


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