Can smartphones replace traditional cameras?

Smartphones – rather than traditional cameras – are apparently becoming the go-to devices for users taking casual photos and videos on the fly.

According the NPD Group, the share of those taking photos and videos on their smartphones has grown significantly, while camera and traditional camcorder use is on a definite downward spiral.

Indeed, the percent of photos taken with a smartphone (Apple iPhone or any other smartphone) jumped from 17 in 2011 to 27 in 2012, while the share of photos taken on any camera dropped from 52% to 44%.

“There is no doubt that the smartphone is becoming ‘good enough’ much of the time. Thanks to mobile phones, more pictures are being taken than ever before,” confirmed NPD Group exec Liz Cutting.

“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 or camcorders are still largely the device of choice.”

Cutting explained that camcorders and lower-end point-and-shoot cameras appear to have taken the brunt of the movement to smartphones, with the point-and-shoot camera market plummeting 17% in terms of units and 18% in dollars for the first 11 months of 2011.

Meanwhile, pocket camcorders were down 13% in units and 27% in dollars, as traditional flash camcorders declined 8% in units and 10% in dollars.

Nevertheless, the NPD Group recorded positive growth segments of the market, as detachable lens cameras increased by 12% in units and 11% in dollars over the same time period, with an average price of $863.

Similarly, point-and-shoot cameras with optical zooms of 10x or greater grew by 16% in units and 10% in dollars, with an average price of $247.