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IPhone passes Canon Rebel XTi as most popular camera on Flickr

August 17, 2009 | 11:36 am

Flickr-graph Here's a tidbit that's sure to irk Flickr's elitist photographers: The iPhone has just topped Canon's high-performance Digital Rebel XTi as the most popular camera on Yahoo's popular image-sharing site.

The iPhone, with its bare-bones, two-megapixel camera, has been battling for the No. 2  spot for months in a tight race with two other Canon cameras and the Nikon D80, according to a graph plotting the overall user percentages of each model on Flickr's Camera Finder.

But recently, the iPhone (displayed in yellow on the graph) shot up to No. 1.

The newest iPhone 3GS added much-improved photo-taking quality, with features such as video, auto-focus and white balance. Still, its lack of a zoom lens and a flash put it at a major technical disadvantage compared to dedicated point-and-shooters like the 10- to 12-megapixel Canon Rebels.

Flickr has long been a popular spot for professionals to dump their hundreds of digital stills. The website is an ideal place for ...

... pros to display their work to the world and for long-term cloud storage (as long as they've paid for a pro account, to remove the 200-picture restriction).

But the Rebel's dethroning doesn't seem to indicate a major consumer shift away from professional-quality cameras. Rather, it's more of a shift in the battle among cellphone cameras, in favor of the iPhone, as well as a change in how people share digital photos. Apple's smart phone has outpaced the share of user uploads compared to other camera phones. The Nokia N95 holds a distant second, followed by a couple of BlackBerry models.

IPhone users are notoriously heavy consumers of mobile Internet -- in some cases, surpassing the amount of time they spend surfing the Web on their computers. That could mean they're apt to share the photos they take on more websites, rather than suggest that the phone's camera is supplanting more powerful devices.

We've been tracking the Apple-Canon race on Flickr for months. Strangely, this isn't the first time that the iPhone has jumped past the Rebel -- even though the graph doesn't show it. Hours after iPhone took the lead, the leap had been inexplicably stricken from the record.

When asked about the discrepancies, Flickr spokeswoman Lucy Chung wrote in an e-mail, "The graph in Camera Finder updates at every moment so there's no specific reasoning behind the changes. One can assume though that with the recent iPhone 3GS launch, the iPhone now includes two models whereas other manufacturers separate out their models, which could explain the inflated numbers."

Let's see if the change actually sticks this time.

-- Mark Milian

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