Consumers’ preferred camera for various situations. Hint: It’s not a tablet.

Alan Bullock
Jul 21, 2014

It should come as a surprise to no one that a majority of consumers now use a smartphone as their primary digital camera. For some, their smartphone might be the only camera they own “or perhaps even the only camera they have ever owned (see recent InfoBlog here).

InfoTrends’ recent multi-client study, titled Social Photo and Video: The New Communication and Memory-Keeping Paradigm, included extensive research on the choices that people make throughout the photo capture, sharing, storage, and printing processes. That study included a web survey in which more than 1,900 U.S. consumers were asked about the various devices that they use for taking photos. We grouped their responses into four main categories:

  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Point & shoot (P&S) digital cameras
  • Digital Single Lens Cameras (DILCs), which consist of
    • Digital Single Lens Reflex cameras (DSLRs) and
    • Compact Interchangeable Lens Cameras (CILCs), often known as Mirrorless Hybrid, Micro Four Thirds, or Compact System cameras

About 60% of survey respondents told us that they used at least two of those four types of cameras to take photos, and we asked them which of their cameras they would be most likely to use in sixteen different picture-taking situations.

Across the board, more than 75% of respondents who use two, three, or all four of those types of cameras said that they would be most likely to choose their smartphone for everyday photos. Digital cameras, on the other hand, were preferred for more important occasions.

Here are a few examples of the results for people who use all four devices smartphone, P&S, DILC, and a tablet for taking pictures:

With just a few unremarkable exceptions, tablet users were more likely to choose something other than their tablet in all situations and with all combinations of those four types of cameras. (This is consistent with other InfoTrends research showing that although nearly 80% of tablet users take pictures with their devices at least occasionally, more than half of them do so only about once a week or less.)

Clearly, tablet photography has some ergonomic disadvantages. They are a bit awkward in many settings, with the potential to be a disruption for others nearby. (Ever been seated behind someone holding a tablet up in the air at a wedding, concert, or other event? Enough said.) In addition, many new tablets are introduced with mobile camera technology that is one or two generations old, so there are some quality differences compared to the latest smartphones and digital cameras.

InfoTrends’ Opinion
Tablets are great for viewing, editing, and sharing photos, but convenience and ease of use are the most important factors for many consumers and the choices they make about taking photos. For now, just about anything else satisfies those requirements better than a tablet. And that may actually be part of the plan.


InfoTrends’ study, Social Photo and Video: The New Communication and Memory-Keeping Paradigm, used a combination of quantitative and qualitative methodologies to learn about the motivations for U.S. consumers’ photo and video behaviors, the reasons for the choices that they make along the way, and factors that influence their daily photo and video activities. In addition to the extensive web survey, consumer intercepts and a four-week diary study were also used to gather additional information about the reasons that consumers take, share, store, and print their photos and video the way they do. For more information, please visit the InfoTrends Report Store or contact Matt O’Keefe ( or +1 781 616 2115).

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