Skip to main content

Flickr report: Smartphones dominate in quantity, but DSLRs reign in quality

flickr 2016 report 27591124962 60fd2ccdb2 k
This White House photo of President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama is one of the top 50 photographs selected by Flickr for 2016. The list of top images is primarily dominated by landscape shots from DSLR cameras. US Government
Flickr’s annual trend report shows iPhones made up nearly half of all uploads in 2016, yet the platform’s list of the top images from the year didn’t include any smartphone shots. The photo sharing site’s year in review, published on Tuesday, says smartphones are behind the biggest number of uploads this year, while the DSLR follows in second and the point-and-shoot in third.

Smartphones made up 48 percent of the uploads in 2016, up from 39 percent over 2015, while DSLRs dropped by six to 25 percent. Point-and-shoot cameras continued to fall in popularity, sitting at 21 percent of uploads over 2015’s 25 percent. Few Flickr users used mirrorless cameras for their uploads in 2016 — or in 2015 for that matter. The mirrorless category remained flat at just three percent of all Flickr uploads.

While smartphones dominated overall uploads, a DSLR was behind most of the shots from Flickr’s list of the best images from 2016, compiled using both human curation and computer traffic data. Out of the top 50 images shared, 12 of them did not show what camera they were shot with. Those remaining 38 images with EXIF data were shot with DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, except for three advanced compact cameras and a DJI aerial camera.

In the overall uploads, Apple no doubt led to the smartphone category taking that number one spot. Eighty percent of the 10 most popular cameras used on Flickr in 2016 were Apple-branded, with smartphones from the iPhone 4S to the iPhone 6s Plus dominating the list and the iPhone 7 likely too new to break into that top 10. Besides smartphone cameras, Canon took the remaining two slots in the top 10 list, with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III as eighth and the EOS 5D Mark II in 10th.

Outside of the top 10, Apple shots represented 46 percent of the images uploaded over the past year overall, while Canon photographers made up 24 percent and Nikon 18.

The image-sharing platform also shared a list of the most popular image tags. Nature was the most used tag for 2016, followed by the similarly themed sunset, water, sky and landscape. Colors were also a popular tag — blue and red were the sixth and seventh most used tags. Beach, portrait and night round out the top 10 tags.

While Flickr reports tend to follow photography trends overall, the data only represents images uploaded to the photo sharing platform. While the trends could indicate an overall rise in the dominance of the smartphone camera, it could also simply indicate that DSLR users are leaving Flickr for another platform like Instagram or that connectivity means smartphone photographers share more of their work than DSLR photographers. A quick click on the platform’s top images of 2016 show none of the photos (that provide camera data) were shot with a smartphone.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
Best Camera Deals: Save on Canon, Panasonic, Nikon, and GoPro
fujifilm x t4 review set 2 dm 1

Whether you're looking for the best digital cameras or the best travel cameras, there are a ton of options out there, sometimes too many options, especially for those who aren't familiar with the photography world. Luckily, we've done a lot of legwork for you and collected a range of great camera deals across the spectrum, so even if you want something more sports-oriented, like a GoPro, there are a couple of deals for those too. So, let's jump right into it.
Today's Best Camera Deals
One of our favorite deals is the Canon EOS Rebel T7 going for $400, as it's one of the better DSLR cameras on the market, and it has a reasonably budget-friendly price on it, making it a great starter camera. Of course, if you've been in the game for a while and are looking for a powerful upgrade, the Sony Alpha 7R IV is one of the best full-frame cameras on the market, and while it still costs a hefty $3,200, that's still $300 off the usual $3,500 price tag. That said, if you're looking for something more portable and action-oriented, you can't go wrong with the GoPro HERO11 Black Mini, although if you're a professional content creator, the GoPro HERO9 Black 5K is probably the one to go for instead.

Do I Need a DSLR or a Mirrorless Camera?
Like most things, this really depends on what you're trying to do. Mirrorless cameras have fewer internal moving parts, which generally means they can capture images quicker, so if you're taking pictures of action-packed stuff like sports or animals in the wilderness, a mirrorless camera is a great option. On the other hand, DSLR cameras are great for low-light conditions and are great for anything from portraits to landscapes. DSLRs are also cheaper and have much better battery life, as well as having a decade or two worth of lenses to choose from.

Read more
How to blur a background in photos
A person photographed with iPhone 11's portrait mode.

Introducing a background blur to your photos can draw attention to a specific subject, such as an individual in a portrait or an item in a still life, while also adding a professional flair to your image. This beautiful background blur, also known as bokeh, can be achieved even after shooting your photo, thanks to advances in editing software. This guide will walk you through the process on iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS.

Read more
How to download Instagram photos (5 easy ways)
Instagram app running on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Instagram is amazing, and many of us use it as a record of our lives — uploading the best bits of our trips, adventures, and notable moments. But sometimes you can lose the original files of those moments, leaving the Instagram copy as the only available one . While you may be happy to leave it up there, it's a lot more convenient to have another version of it downloaded onto your phone or computer. While downloading directly from Instagram can be tricky, there are ways around it. Here are a few easy ways to download Instagram photos.

Read more