Is the iPhone destroying standalone cameras or is it a gateway drug?

The most popular camera on Flickr is the iPhone 5. The 2nd most popular camera is the iPhone4S.

Wanna guess what the 3rd most popular camera?

Yep, iPhone 4.

The iPhone camera is truly stunning. Folks are blowing my mind on Tumblr and Instagram with their eye, talent, creative energy and this camera. Check out these iPhone photographs by Michael O’Neal.

I’ve met Michael. He’s a super talented (and super friendly). We’ve met for a sunset photowalk and a sunrise photowalk in San Francisco. He’s taught me so many things about making photographs with an iPhone (and post processing with mobile apps like snapseed) and he turned me on to AvgCamPro which is a sick app.

I was dabbling with photography for years but the iPhone 4 led me to more serious photography. I wanted to learn as much as possible about workflow in Adobe Lightroom. I couldn’t believe what you could do with a few sliders like shadow, highlight, contrast, tones and clarity.

That led me to buy a camera that could shoot in RAW and allowed me to manually override the shutter speed and aperture (fuji x100). I could take long exposures. I could blur backgrounds. I could shoot into the sun. Then two years ago I picked up a rangefinder that changed my life. I’m now chasing light.

Interesting the 4th most popular is the Canon 5d markii. That is a serious camera. It sports a full frame sensor and Canon sells some magical glass. I’ve had a few dreams about their 50mm f/1.2.

There are so many wonderful cameras coming out these days. People ask me all the time what camera they should buy. It really comes down to budget and what type of photography interests you and form factor. The reality is you can’t really go wrong with many of them. You just need to put in the time and commit.

And I’m seeing so many people do just that. They are double fisting. iPhone in one hand and a more “serious camera" for different photography experiences.

This fall Apple will ship a new iPhone. Probably called the iPhone5S. My guess is an improved camera amongst other things. That phone will take over the title for most popular camera on Flickr in no time.

But will it kill standalone cameras or serve as a gateway drug for more people who want to push their photography interest farther along.

It feels like the latter and that is pretty cool.

(ps here is the flickr page ranking cameras by popularity)