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Smartphones account for a quarter of photos, videos taken in U.S.

People are increasingly using their smartphones to capture moments, according to a new study by the NPD Group, but standalone cameras are still more popular.

Smartphones are gobbling up market share from traditional cameras, new research says.
Smartphones are gobbling up market share from traditional cameras, new research says.
Josh Lowensohn/CNET

When it comes to taking photos and videos, an increasing number of consumers are reaching into their pocket instead of a camera bag, a new study suggests.

According to new research by the NPD group, smartphones hit a major milestone this year, accounting for 27 percent of photos taken in its Imaging Confluence Study. That's up from the 17 percent that gadget class garnered at the same time last year.

What made room for that growth was a decrease in the number of photos taken by standalone cameras, the firm said. This year, those devices came in at 44 percent, down from 2010's 52 percent. Breaking that down further, point-and-shoot cameras dropped 17 percent year over year, with pocket camcorders falling 13 percent, and flash camcorders declining 8 percent.

"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," said Liz Cutting, NPD's executive director and senior imaging analyst in a statement. "But for important events, single purpose cameras or camcorders are still largely the device of choice."

Signs of that trend have more readily been seen on Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing service, which makes public the usage of various camera models. Apple's iPhone made waves in 2008, quickly ascending to the top echelons of the service's camera rankings, taking out heavyweights from Canon and Nikon. And earlier this year, the iPhone 4 took the top spot overall.

One bright spot in NPD's numbers was for cameras with a detachable lens, which increased 12 percent year over year. That was coupled with a 16 percent increase in the number of point-and-shoot cameras with big zooming capabilities--something the vast majority of smartphone cameras can't do.