BBC 6 Minute English

BBC 6 Minute English: Are Smartphones Killing Cameras? – 2018 August

Many people have a smartphone these days and these devices carry not one, but two cameras! Who buys separate cameras? Catherine and Neil talk about photography and teach you six items of related vocabulary.

This week’s question:

When was the first digital camera phone released? It was:

a)    2000

b)    2004

c)    2007

Listen to the programme to find out the answer.

Vocabulary

obsolete
something that has been replaced and is no longer the first choice

to drop off a cliff
(metaphor) used about, for example, sales numbers, it means sales have fallen significantly over a short period of time

opt for something
choose something

get into something
become very interested in an activity

frustrated with something
disappointed with something

take the next rung up
do something at a higher level

Transcript

Note: This is not a word for word transcript

Neil
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m Neil. 

Catherine
And I’m Catherine. Hello!

Neil
Now, Catherine, say cheese.

Catherine
Cheeeese.

Neil
[takes photo on smartphone] Thank you, a little souvenir of our time together. 

Catherine
Let’s have a look… Hang on a minute. You just took a selfie, I wasn’t even in the picture.

Neil
Ah, well, that’s the magic of the smartphone, two cameras! You know, that’s not something you can do with a traditional camera. I mean, do you even have a separate camera these days? 

Catherine
I do actually. It’s in a cupboard somewhere at home.

Neil
Well, that is the topic of this programme. Have traditional cameras been completely replaced by smartphones, or to put it another way, have cameras been made obsolete by the smartphone?

Catherine
Interesting question. But before we get into this topic, how about a question for our listeners?

Neil
Of course. We are certainly in the digital age of photography but when was the first digital camera phone released? Was it:
a)    2000
b)    2004 or
c)    2007?
What do you think?

Catherine
Well, I actually know this one, so I’m going to be fair and keep it to myself.

Neil
OK, well, listen out for the answer at the end of the programme. There are different kinds of cameras available today. There are compact cameras, which are small and mostly automatic and usually come with a fixed lens.

Catherine
That’s right. And then there are SLRs and DSLRs which are bigger, and you can change the lenses on these cameras and they allow for a lot of manual control.

Neil
And there are also mirrorless cameras, which are a cross between compact cameras and DSLRs. They are small like a compact camera but you can also use the same lenses on them that you can use on DSLRs.

Catherine
And of course, there are the cameras on smartphones, and these are convenient and they’re becoming increasingly sophisticated.

Neil
Phil Hall is the editor of Tech Radar magazine. He was asked on the BBC programme You and Yours if he thought smartphones would make other cameras obsolete. What is his opinion?

Phil Hall
I don’t think so. I think while compact camera sales have really sort of dropped off a cliff, it’s the lower end, cheap compacts where people have opted for a smartphone and I think manufacturers are looking at the more higher end premium cameras, high-end compacts, DSLRs, which are the ones you can attach lenses to, mirrorless cameras. So, the market’s changing. And I don’t think there’ll be a time soon, yet, that… the smartphone will take over the camera completely. 

Neil
So does Phil think smartphones will kill the camera? 

Catherine
In a word, no. He does say that sales of cheap compact cameras have dropped off a cliff. This rather dramatic expression describes a very big fall in sales.

Neil
This is because the kind of consumers who would choose a compact camera are now opting for the camera on their smartphone. When you opt for something you choose it rather than something else.

Catherine
For people who want a quick, easy to use and convenient way to take reasonable quality photos, compact cameras used to be the best choice – but now it’s a smartphone.

Neil
So camera makers are now moving to the more high-end market, the DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. So who is still buying these more expensive cameras? Here’s Phil Hall again. 

Phil Hall
I think it’s… some of it is people who are picking up a smartphone and sort of getting into photography that way and that’s a really great first step into photography and I think people are probably, sometimes, getting a bit frustrated with the quality once they sort of start pushing their creative skills and then looking to see what’s the next rung up so it’s people wanting to broaden their creative skills a bit. 

Neil
Who does he say might be buying cameras? 

Catherine
He says that people who are getting into photography might get frustrated with the quality of smartphones.

Neil
Getting into something means becoming very interested in it.

Catherine
And if you are frustrated with something it means you are disappointed with it. You are not happy with it.

Neil
So people who have got into photography with a smartphone but are frustrated with its limitations and want to be more creative are going to the next level. They are moving up, they are, as Phil said ‘taking the next rung up’.

Catherine
Now, a rung is the horizontal step of a ladder, so the expression taking the next rung up is a way to describe doing something at a higher level.

Neil
Now, talking of higher levels, did you get this week’s quiz question right? The question was:  When was the first phone with a digital camera released? Was it 2000, 2004 or 2007? The first phone with a digital camera was released in 2000. Now, to take us up to the end of the programme, let’s look at the vocabulary again.

Catherine
First we had the adjective obsolete which describes something that has been replaced and is no longer the first choice. 

Neil
When the expression to drop off a cliff is used about, for example, sales numbers, it means sales have fallen significantly over a short period of time.

Catherine
To opt for something means to choose something and when you become very interested in an activity you can say that you get into it.

Neil
If you are trying to do something and you can’t do it because you don’t have the skill or the equipment you are using is not right or not good enough, you can become frustrated. 

Catherine
And developing your skills to a higher level can be described as taking the next rung up. 

Neil
Right, that’s all from us from us in this programme. Do join us again next time and don’t forget that in the meantime you can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and of course our website bbclearningenglish.com. See you soon. Goodbye.

Catherine
Bye!

CLick to listen to all BBC 6 minute English topics