I promise, this is not another “DSLR is expressionless” article. In fact, as I was thinking almost this mail a few weeks back, I thought of ways not to brand it sound like I am trying to coffin any brand or camera system, as I am well-aware that discussing photography gear can sometimes bring all kinds of anger in people. Instead, what I want to do in this article, is talk about the state of the photographic camera manufacture and where things are headed in the near and distant future, and what it ways for DSLR owners.
DSLR Development Has Stopped
The fact of the affair is, DSLR development has basically ceased beyond all camera brands (with Ricoh / Pentax being the only exception, as the company does non have whatsoever intentions or resource with pursuing mirrorless tech). Canon has already confirmed that it moved its lens development efforts to its RF mountain, maxim that it will not touch the EF mount “unless the market demands it”. Nikon recently said something very similar, pointing out that for the time beingness, the visitor will concentrate on mirrorless cameras. Simply put, this is a major shift of R&D resources towards mirrorless, and with the rise of the smartphone, as well as the economic furnishings of the global pandemic, a double whammy, the process is but getting accelerated. And it looks like things are going to stay this fashion, at least for a while, until the marketplace stabilizes.
Just when we think that the camera market is about to recover, nosotros go new reports of falling demand, significant losses among camera manufacturers, and reports of shifts in consumer behavior. Yes, the smartphone is continuing its devastating effect on the photographic camera industry, and most companies, including Canon and Nikon, take not been able to really effigy out the direction they should be taking. DSLR sales have taken a huge beating and basically plummeted to all-fourth dimension lows, and the only part of the photographic camera market that seems to exist doing comparably better in terms of new sales is mirrorless. And then it makes sense that the
really have no pick only to comprehend new tech, or they volition be soon looking at the aforementioned fate equally Olympus.
DSLR Has Already Hit the Innovation Wall
The matter is, DSLR evolution seems to have reached its maximum potential. What is there left to better? Cameras like the Nikon D850 or the D6 are most-perfect DSLRs in almost every way, with blazing-fast autofocus systems, crazy continuous shooting speeds, huge buffers, and excellent image quality. You can’t really take phase-detection AF on DSLRs to a whole new level, because of concrete and technological limitations. Canon has been adding its Dual Pixel AF (on-sensor PDAF) technology to its contempo DSLRs to make them a bit more appealing, and Nikon did the same thing in its D780 DSLR for the same reason. However, it requires ane to exist in Alive View style (rendering the optical viewfinder completely useless), and it is not like this addition has somehow increased need and interest in DSLR cameras.
CMOS sensor technology has not really avant-garde to new levels either, only incremental updates. While we take stacked BSI CMOS sensors now, such as the one from the new Sony A1, it is non similar they have loftier ISO performance to vastly new levels. And even if there was new sensor tech, you can’t actually push button information technology as the merely new feature – that would upset existing customers who desire more than features and innovation.
What else could yous do? Add IBIS? While it sounds groovy, implementing IBIS properly on a DSLR is non piece of cake. If you stabilize the sensor without stabilizing the mirror or the pentaprism in the same fashion, you are going to exist looking at a jumpy viewfinder, and it will no longer stand for reality. Imagine if your last photo has unlike framing compared to what you saw on the OVF – that would be frustrating. Pentax has implemented IBIS on its DSLRs, but if yous ask any Pentax shooter, they will tell you that they wish the OVF was stabilized also. Sadly, at that place is no practical solution to this. Anything you lot do will just increase the complexity and the size of the DSLR.
And so bated from things like sensor resolution, shooting speed, more than movie options, peradventure some extra in-camera features, there isn’t much room left for real innovation with DSLR cameras.
Mirrorless is the Tech
Mirrorless engineering science, on the other manus, opens up all kinds of innovation potential. But take a wait at the recent mirrorless cameras like the Canon EOS R5/R6 and Sony A1. Crazy AF point coverage, advanced scene and subject recognition, face and centre detection that works not only on humans, but also on animals and birds. IBIS, pixel-shift, a boatload of advanced video features, better optics due to reduced flange altitude…
I could continue and on, but yous get the point. Mirrorless is where engineering is today, and in that location is plenty of room for existent innovation. With e’er-evolving autofocus systems that utilize machine learning and AI, we volition soon run across automation that will take away the complexity of using an advanced camera. Point your photographic camera at a subject, and your camera will exist smart enough to know what yous are trying to photograph. Information technology will know where to focus, providing authentic and consistently proficient results.
With the sensor technology’south current limitations, we will soon be seeing image averaging capabilities (which is already being utilized on smartphones) making their way into mirrorless cameras, and then that your ISO 6400 image looks like an ISO 100 image. Pixel-shift for college resolution images will somewhen take place in-photographic camera, producing a unmarried RAW file. We should be seeing all kinds of smart in-photographic camera image processing besides. And I am just scratching the surface here.
The simple fact is that most time to come camera innovations will involve heavy use of software and artificial intelligence. Whichever camera manufacturer is going to be stronger in software will ultimately become the leader. Yous can easily describe parallels from the smartphone industry to the photographic camera industry – that’s eventually where the big camera tech is going to exist heading.
Who Cares? I Beloved My DSLR!
Yous have probably heard some photographers say something like “you lot tin only pry my DSLR from my cold, expressionless easily”. It is truthful that many photographers out there have nil involvement in mirrorless technology and prefer using a DSLR. Some continue to use DSLRs for financial reasons, trying to avoid a plush organisation upgrade, while others take their ain reasons, such as preferring OVF over EFV, wanting to shoot with a larger / bulkier camera, etc.
Some photographers have a stable of classic lenses that they want to proceed using, and they have no intentions to part with any of them. Whatever the reasons, there will ever be those who adopt something unlike from the masses. This is the same reason why nosotros still have plenty of film shooters today. Technology moves on, but the joy of using classics will always stay for those who want it.
DSLR Production Will Go on For Some Fourth dimension
At the same time, at that place are also plenty of DSLR shooters who are looking forward to getting more tech in the future. And for those folks, it is tough to imagine that whatsoever they have now, might be it. They might non get any more upgrades, and at some indicate in the futurity, they might non even be able to buy a brand new DSLR the same style they have been able to in the past.
Withal, I seriously doubt this will happen anytime soon. In the very afar hereafter, maybe, but nosotros are potentially talking about decades here. And that’s if manufacturing DSLRs for Nikon, Canon, and Pentax is going to cost more than the sales they generate.
How practise I know this? Well, considering how long we’ve had digital cameras by now, Canon finally decided to finish the product of its EOS-1v film camera only three years ago. And it took Nikon even longer to discontinue its F6 in October of 2020 – that photographic camera was in product for a whopping 16 years!
I expect DSLR product to continue for at least a decade by both Catechism and Nikon. The only upshot is the cost of production and budget of a big selection of EF and F-mount lenses, as well as a broad array of DSLR cameras. Both companies will need to trim their production lines to a handful of lenses and cameras, and minimize their product support costs. This is going to exist difficult for Nikon, as the visitor has been struggling financially, then information technology might need to cut its F-mount option significantly.
Why Manufacturers are Moving to Mirrorless
For many DSLR shooters, the sudden shift from DSLR to mirrorless might be hugely disappointing. I take heard many complaints from current Nikon and Canon DSLR owners who are very unhappy about the state of affairs, and they seem to be dislocated why mirrorless is then hyped, to the point that manufacturers are transitioning to it.
Well, aside from the technological potential of the mirrorless applied science I talked almost before, moving to mirrorless also makes fiscal sense. Just think most it. If Canon makes a brand new DSLR like 5D Mark Five, what is its sales potential? Existing 5D owners who might consider upgrading? Very few of those would purchase lenses with the camera, as they near likely already have a bunch of EF drinking glass to shoot with.
Now if Canon makes a make new mount, it is not just camera sales we are talking almost. In that location is a huge potential in selling brand new lenses with them also. And then with the launch of a new system, yous have a lot more opportunity to upsell lenses and accessories for that system. That’southward just business. Both Nikon and Canon are doing the aforementioned thing, and we should not be upset nigh it, equally long as the new products are not inferior to their predecessors (and they nearly certainly are not).
I accept already written most the marvels of the new Nikon Z lens trinity. Catechism has done the aforementioned with its line-up, offering remarkable RF mount lenses that were simply impossible to design in the past. Nosotros will be seeing more innovations like that, and I am sure of it.
So if you desire the latest tech, you lot will demand to change systems at some indicate, which will be costly. And camera manufacturers apparently want y’all to do that, as long every bit you stay with them. That’south why they are all racing to go the latest and greatest features in cameras while trying to push out every bit many mirrorless lenses as possible. Some are doing it better than others, so there will be shifts in leadership and market share – that’south a given.
Encompass Mirrorless or Die?
Nobody says that you should be embracing mirrorless. Yes, mirrorless technology will advance and that’s certainly the time to come. I don’t recollect anyone can doubt that now. Still, if you are happy with your DSLR and don’t come across the point of changing systems, why worry? Why waste material your time reading online comments from brand shills and fanboys who are only there to defend their purchase decisions? That’s just choice-supportive bias at play, fueled by Net anonymity.
Even if nosotros never meet some other DSLR from Nikon and Canon, that’s perfectly fine. It has happened before, and I am sure it will happen again. If someone comes up with some new crazy engineering that is far superior to all the mirrorless tech nosotros have today (curved sensors, simplified eyes, etc), nosotros will exist one time again dealing with the transformation of the whole camera industry…
I have been using DSLRs for many years, and if I had the means to back up multiple systems, I would have kept my virtually favorite DSLRs and all the lovely F-mount drinking glass that I had used for so many years (it was particularly tough to part with the Noct-NIKKOR 58mm f/ane.two, but at least I know it is in very practiced hands). I am sure others have a similar sense of attachment and memories, at least to some of their gear.
Information technology is not like my photography has vastly improved since I switched to mirrorless. I cannot say that I am enjoying photography a lot more either, and I am sure many others who switched would say the same. I have always been a geek, so technology excites me and fuels my passion. This is as well my job, so information technology is in my best interest to keep upwards with the latest trends so that I tin talk about them here at PL. Keep this in mind when you read my manufactures and reviews. I am non here to sell yous annihilation. I don’t get paid by any make to say what I say, and I will always relish my freedom. Every bit I take said before, take everything yous read on the Internet with a grain of salt, and that includes me.
Ending this post with one of my all-time favorite shots, captured with the Nikon D3S DSLR – an incredible camera for its day:
It has now been almost 10 years since I wrote my article on the “Time to come of Digital Cameras“. It was fun to go back and give it a read… will need to revisit this article after a few years and meet where we are at!