Feature Article - May/June 2015

Lights, Cameras, Action!

Zooming In and Connecting—The Latest in Digital Cameras

By Emily Tipping

Cameras have long held a place near the top of the list of popular incentive and reward items. Everyone wants to be able to capture and cherish the memory of those special moments in life. From spur-of-the-moment snapshots of a child's first t-ball game to carefully considered family portraits, we have long relied on cameras to be more than a technological tool. Camera manufacturers have responded to our love for pictures by continually developing new features and functions to help us expand our artistry.

"Electronics in general do very well in the incentive industry, as it is a market that is constantly evolving and being redeveloped," said Haig Vartivarian, purchasing manager for Rymax Marketing Services Inc. "People always want the latest and trending gadgets, making it crucial to provide your audience with the opportunity to obtain these high-in-demand products through your loyalty program. Digital cameras specifically do well because photography is an activity nearly every person takes part in and manufacturers are always making more advanced products with desirable and efficient capabilities."

But wait a second, you might say. Doesn't everybody just use their smartphone for taking pictures now?

The answer to that question is, "Yes, but…"

Smartphones are a useful tool for snapping pics from moment to moment, but your smartphone is a jack of all trades, and a master of few.

Digital cameras remain effective because of their close connection with "memories and the recording of life events," said Thomas J. Myers, sales manager, Special Markets & Government, Nikon Inc. "Being able to use a digital camera will give you a quality image and recording of a life event that you won't be able to capture with your smartphone, especially when you want to print the image."

He added, "Certainly the convenience of having your smartphone with you 24/7 has had an effect on camera sales. The entry-level point-and-shoot cameras in the sub-$150 category has been even more affected. But, there is a case of perception vs. reality here. Whenever there is an important life event or memory-making moment, a camera is really the only choice. So ultimately, the consumer is figuring that out with the inadequate quality results they're getting from their smartphone."

Tom Sferratore, account executive, ITCG National Account Camera/Video Division, Canon U.S.A. Inc., agreed that smartphones have had an impact on the market. "More and more people are content to use their smartphone for the spur-of-the-moment picture, as most people always have their smartphone with them," he said. "For the purposes that most of these images are used (social media, typically), the image quality is 'good enough.' We have begun to view this as an opportunity, as more and more people do understand that when image quality is required, one should reach for their camera, not their phone."

Carey Berg, vice president of Special Markets for Vivitar Sakar said that while smartphones have had a big impact on the camera business, "… the positive part is that it has also turned people who never really took pictures before into budding photographers."

As a result of all of these smartphone influences, digital camera manufacturers have found new ways to create a distinctive product, introducing cameras that can do things no smartphone can handle, from incredible powerful zoom to rugged bodies that can handle rough weather and even shoot underwater. In addition, they've begun adding connectivity that enables cameras to share photos directly to smartphones for sharing and more.