An Opportunity


An Opportunity

To help (and attract) new users!

I think we are at an interesting time for digital imaging. I came across this graph on Petapixel the other day that showed camera sales from 1947 - 2014:

![CIPA Camera Production 1947-2014](upload://nMgDZmNb3KCvY8FPDZHE0oy7GTc.jpeg)

There was explosive growth driven by the Compact Digital market right around 2000. Likely driven by the advent of those inexpensive compact digital cameras and the ubiquity of home computers. It was relatively cheap to get a decent digital camera and the cost per photo suddenly dropped to a previously unheard of amount (compared to shooting film).

This meant that substantially more people were now able to take and share photographs.

That precarious plummet after 2011 seems frightful for the photography industry as a whole, though. The numbers from the graph would seem to indicate that production in 2014 dropped to below the values from 2001.

Petapixel had a follow-up article where photographer Sven Skafisk added in smartphone sales using data from Gartner Inc.:

![Camera Sales with Smartphones](upload://4Iu8URDCmCiALI80sTrMlqFbqEq.png)

If that graph doesn’t describe an industry in the throes of change, then I don’t know what does. It looks like the camera industry is less in decline and more about being in a big transition phase.

So What?

So why would this matter? Because now, more than ever, there is a large amount of people who may be interested in learning to process their photographs in some way. As the costs and barrier to entry to photography as a hobby get lower we see more and more people finding the fun and joy of photography.

Couple that with the fact that the modern language of media consumption is primarily visual and I see a great opportunity brewing.

I feel this is important to us as free software users as it gives us an opportunity to help make people aware of free software (and its ideas). New hobbyists will invariably look for an inexpensive way to get started processing photos and will almost always run into various free software projects at some point in the search.

It’s entirely on us as a community to make sure that there will be good resources to learn from. If we do a good enough job, some of those folks will realize that free software more than meets their needs. If we do a really good job, some of those people will become valuable parts of our communities.

Articles Have Comments Now Also

So I have now also enabled the comments for more than just blog posts. They should now be working just fine on full articles as well. So feel free to head over to Ian Hex’s neat Luminosity Masking in darktable tutorial and leave a comment to let him know what you thought of it! (Or any of the other articles, too.)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I love the amount of scrolling that chart requires.

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I know, right? It really is nuts how much it dwarfs the results. I realize that this is a little skewed, as people may not have specifically been shopping for a camera, but rather automatically got one with their smartphone.

Still, there’s a good chance that if even a fraction of those users begin taking photography more seriously, that’s a large number of new users.

Personally I’ve found that having a halfway decent camera in my phone (currently a Sony of some sort) actually gets me to use my “real” camera more. I’ll start to take a picture with my phone and then think, well, actually this scene is probably worth doing right (for me that means shooting RAW with a faster lens).

The only flaw I see in your opportunity is that so many of those photos end up shared on instagram or facebook, which means they never leave the phone for any kind of editing. Be nice if there were GIMP for Android.

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Absolutely no doubt that the majority of those images don’t ever leave the phone/ecosystem they are on, but if you look at the 2014 numbers, just 3% of the smartphone users equals all of the compact/mirrorless/dslr users!

With a little luck at least a few of those users might consider moving outside the mobile ecosystem or enjoy shooting enough that they start to lean towards your thinking of moving to a better camera to do it ‘right’. That’s where the opportunity is, in my opinion (well, the opportunity that I can personally do anything about - it’s up to the devs to capture those folks on other systems. :slight_smile: ).

One thing that is important to remember in any era: Most camera users - whether that be a compact, dslr, phone, whatever - are going to take the path of least resistance to getting their photographs out there. We’re only talking a small percentage that want to take the time to critically edit their photos before presenting them to the public. If you’re hoping to grow the GIMP/FOSS community, it is those users that you want to reach. And even then, if they can’t move off of their phone to edit, they won’t bother. I don’t know what that percentage is but (just now seeing your earlier comments) 3% might be a little generous. Phone camera people are the ‘path of least resistance’ people. I know this because I calla few of them my children. :smile:

Frankly, I’m surprised that there are that many compact digital users out there, although it looks like this data is now 2 years old.

And on an unrelated note, I love what you’re doing with this site. GIMP users have long needed a well designed, useful and updated site to have as a resource.

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First of all, awesome to see you here!

That 3% is actually the total of all dslr/compact/mirrorless cameras vs. smartphones. I honestly would be fine with seeing ½% of smartphone users looking more seriously at the hobby! :smiley: Bring 'em on!

I know, right? To be fair, the 2014 production numbers for compacts were only ~20% of their peak in 2010.

I very much appreciate the kind words! The community so far has been awesome (overall, not necessarily here yet), and I think having a nice place to congregate might help. <fingers crossed>

This does reflect somewhat my own life with photography ( my life just fits in the time scale) I got my first camera in 1955 and slowly upgraded over time but never getting very busy due to the costs and the time delay between shooting and seeing the results. A compact digital in 1998 changed my use pattern even though I could not break the habit of just taking one or two shots at a time.

A D-SLR changed things totally, I still do not completely go click happy but will take a dozen or so shots of an interesting subject.

I do not have a 'phone, let alone a smart one but I do have a tablet with two cameras which I have never usedd until this week. I was on a tour of Berlin, using the tablet as guide book, with gps map, my D-SLR developed a fault after about 2 hours so I reluctantly used the tablet and was pleasantly surprised with the results, the images still needed a lot of work in gimp but they were about the same as my cameras middle quality jpg’s, good enough for memories but not for publication.