That may sound like a silly question in this age of instant publication of digital photography, but the rapid advance of handheld technology in photography may spell the end of an entire class of cameras. CNN looks at the fast growth in photography apps in the cell-phone market, and asks whether the point-and-shoot digital cameras have become the dinosaurs of photography less than a generation after their introduction:

The CNN clip doesn’t discuss the impact of tablets on the point-and-shoot market, but it has also been substantial. Especially after the reduction in size of most tablets, such as the iPad Mini and the Galaxy Note 8, the ability to have a multifunction device trumps the single-use-only point-and-shoot digital camera.  Even if those cameras fit easily into a shirt or pants pocket, the phone will probably already occupy that space. Why carry both — or all three, if people are inclined to carry a phone and a tablet?

These devices don’t displace serious photography equipment, such as the gear I usually carry on vacation or when going on the road to cover events.  Cell phones and tablets don’t have much flexibility in terms of zoom, lighting, and sound for videos, for instance, and anything other than snapshots requires a higher level of technology.  But that’s true of the point-and-shoot, too, and those are sometimes more trouble than they’re worth, especially since the resolution isn’t all that much better than the latest generation of hand-held devices.  I used my 4-year-old point-and-shoot at a wedding this year, and ended up switching to my cell phone.

What do readers think?  Would you prefer the point-and-shoot over a smartphone or tablet, or would you balk at having to carry the extra weight?  I’d guess that the point-and-shoot market will follow the trajectory of the film-based cameras over the next five years, and that it will be almost impossible to find any in retail stores by the end of that period — except as cheap novelties.