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Gear & Apps

The Road Ahead – The Future Of Our Gear & Industry

By Kishore Sawh on December 30th 2014

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Boy, doesn’t it just happen with haste. When change takes afoot, that is. It seems like only an hour ago, digital mirrorless cameras were for the uninformed, the careless, the anti-artist, the utter amateur, or those who like to adopt early to say they did, and those who valued form over function.

And truth be told, they were. Early Olympus, Epson, Panasonic offerings were little more than big ambition running in a race before their talent could walk. Even up to two years ago and after they became good, they were good for what they were – new tech – but not good enough. It was an interesting idea, news-in-brief, at best.

Thing is, that was then and this is now, and the world is a very different place. It’s with confidence I say that the most sought after cameras right now, for pros and amateurs alike, are mirrorless. The A7 and the X-T1 are leaving all those who try them but don’t have them, breathless with envy.

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The Sony A7 came out of the gates with the same sensor and same sort of bewildering resolution you’d get from a D800, and about the same FPS. But it also came in significantly cheaper, significantly smaller, and with a EVF that took some of the guessing away. Then, the X-T1 came out and assured us that even cropped sensor mirrorless were items of performance and desire, being more handsome, more affordable, and even cooler. To have gone from the Sony NEX system to the A7 in one leap is kind of like Henry Ford after finishing up building the Model T then saying, “Well done. Now, let’s make a GT40.”

The digital SLR, in its own mirror, is witnessing its own end of days, and the rate at which it is happening is blistering. There may be a group of you who will keep clinging on, and fervently voice in forums how much better they are than mirrorless, saying how the feel is different, and the performance still isn’t matched, and on and on, but you’ve got only a little time left to do that.

If you think back into history, even of only a hundred years or so, or even 30, isn’t it incredible how short the transition period is between the present and the next big thing? Steam to combustion, candle light to electricity, Backstreet Boys to Mumford & Sons. Humans, and markets, waste no time in relentlessly moving forward when a better option is presented. When we are suspicious of a better option, maybe there’s hesitation, but when something better truly comes, the recognition is fast, and it’s like change straps a jet-pack to its back and takes off. A day ago, you were mailing Christmas cards to your family, and then in a blink it was email. A week ago, your phone was attached to your wall with a spiral cable and now it’s in your pocket…while you’re sipping Rum & RedBull on a beach in Jamaica. Or just rum.

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I mean, how long does it really take you to see what’s going to be the better option (for a majority) after spending time with a D800 or A7, or a Canon 60D and an X-T1? 3 shots?
Let’s keep in mind that the A7 is essentially a first round go at the full frame mirrorless game, equivalent to the early cell phones in the late 90s. Now, look how far they’ve come in such a short time. The rate of evolution there is Concorde fast, and it will be the same for cameras because photography now is a digital endeavor. The incremental advancements in mechanics of analogue kept its rate of change slower, but digital evolution is exponential. Imagine where mirrorless cameras will be in 3 years? 5 years!

So why are there still DSLRs? Well, posterity for one, and I’ll admit now that the high end DSLRs still have some things over the mirrorless grasshoppers. When I, personally, would be on a proper shoot, I’m still tempted to go for the DSLR, but how long do you think it’s going to take for mirrorless to catch up? Especially when the needs are changing, and things like editorials built for Instagram are happening. Even if you’re a hardline DSLR shooter, you must admit you’re curious about mirrorless, and want one. That may produce some guilt, and isn’t it funny how guilt increases pleasure? Maybe that explains why so many of my colleagues walk around with Cheshire cat grins after switching.

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I recently reviewed Nikon’s latest hot shot D750, and it is marvelous. It’s all I could really hope to have in one camera body. Nikon listened. But what it made me feel, was a bit retrospective. Because due to a myriad of things, the economy, the changing pace of technology, the change in demands of our industry, the change in the big players in it and who wants cameras now, a camera like this will soon be consigned to the annals of photographic history. I had a feeling that what I was using, was an ending.

[REWIND: The D750 Review | It’s Achilles, Less His Heel]

Sure there will be a few more to come, for a few years to come, since breaking up is always hard to do, and it will be even harder for cameras because it’s the big names, the ones we grew up with who are behind now, and they’ll surely cling on as long as possible. But really, the DSLR is over, and this year will sway the vote if not already. Ironically, the film SLR will live on, maybe not as a thing for work, but for pleasure, just as we still drive vintage cars for fun. The DSLR though, won’t even be used for that.

I wish you all the best for the year ahead, and many returns.

About

A photographer and writer based in Miami, he can often be found at dog parks, and airports in London and Toronto. He is also a tremendous fan of flossing and the happiest guy around when the company’s good.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Tosh Cuellar

    Another great article. I’m in the market for another camera body and I’m truly torn about which way to go. I love the proven reliability of the DSLR, I know it and am comfortable with it. I see more and more mirrorless shooters nowadays, some of them close friends and other photographers producing great work with them and it makes for a touch decision when trying to prepare and future proof. Anyways, great information and article.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      HI Tosh, and my apologies for not returning this sooner. Thank you very much for your kind words, as they are much appreciated. Do let us know which route you decided to go, and be well. Cheers

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  2. robert garfinkle

    Hi. I need to get some education. The main question, followed by some commentary after, is: Do mirrorless cameras require a change in lens structure (approach in building it differently)? forgive the silly question, yet I’m a bit confused about a few things.

    I see some new Sony mirrorless cameras coming out with different lens mounts. Is this because of mirroless technology, or is this just the historic proprietary footprint to change things up all the time – is this an accurate statement I just made? Can anyone qualify it? And if so, is this typical of other mfr’s like Canon, Fuji etc…

    To reel in some context to a point I’m trying to make. If it’s true, that a lens approach, type or mount has to change, can I expect Nikon to follow suit, and when they make a pro mirrorless camera, will all my lenses essentially be junk / worthless and only fit animals of the Nikon DSLR family…

    Because to see mfr’s like Sony etc change a mount, often, would, well, tick me off to a degree…

    Now, at the time I purchased my first Nikon, I did not even think of compatibility of lenses from camera to camera, yet feel relieved that pretty much the entire lens collection for DSLRs at the very least uses the same mount. Now, I’m not going to draw into the conversation, the Nikon 1 v3 (or v2 that matter), which does have a converter allowing all the F-mount based lenses to fit to that camera, but does not really fit into the same class of camera type, yes?

    But if a certain type of lens is not required then I can expect there is a good possibility that Nikon, when making a mirror unit, will allow me to use the same ole lenses, which is great… and I’d be considered lucky…

    I have jumped a few cameras in the last 3.5 years, first the D7000, then D800, and now a D810 – yet my lenses did not have to change, excellent. I’d hate to be buying and selling everything to jump into the new technology every time.

    So, what does this have to do with where the technology is going – at the moment very happy with what I got, not boasting, just happy. All things being equal, I do not even know how to use 90% of what I have on the D810, but that’s beside the point; yet if Nikon jumps into the mirrorless technology, to keep up with all the other “jones'” in competition, and keeps the native mount, that’s awesome, yes?

    now, my comments in this response do go down a few avenues, right? But in the spirit of the “Future of techno-ology” and a slant on the DSLR seeing a death in the near future, if that were the case, then Nikon may have their proverbial nuts in a vice as they will have a hard time weaving their way into the mirrorless market. Why?

    Well, first off. If they do plan on landing a semi-pro or pro mirrorless, how they going to do it? and to whom?Can you imagine a 24MP mirrorless with 24fps on an expeed 5 or 6 platform, which had an unprecedented dynamic range, an ISO that was greater than a D810 yet a little less then a D4s (or D4x by that time). I could see them anger their D4(s/x) customers, risking the relationship and so on. Actually, at this stage of the game, they could almost land a mirrorless anywhere on the grid (targeting DSLR customers) and it’d anger quite a few…

    But maybe that’s just it. Introduce a D4x, as a mirrorless, using the same mount (if possible), delivering 36MP over 24fps, 409,000 native ISO, on an expeed 5 (or 6) with new sensor that rivals anything in there line and exceeds quite a few others – a.k.a. their new flagship piece. That way, they are appealing to an elite group not necessarily their current customer base from the D4s downward. Then, after that, they could introduce the D900 etc (whatever…) followed by a D770 etc. and so on.

    I peg Nikon here, as they are late in the game to the mirrorless market, have suffered a market share loss not sure to exactly what but suspect mirrorless “could be” taking a chunk away from them…

    thoughts?

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  3. Scott Pacaldo

    I have a feeling fuji already has the tech for a full frame xtrans sensor but just holding it off for months or years to profit first from the crop version. (hope it doesn’t sound off as an anti-fuji, I actually lust over the x100t/xt1) oh well, it’s going to be a long time for me and my 60D. what a great pal

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  4. robert garfinkle

    ok. I’m in the computer industry. I program, and I consult / work on systems – have been doing so for close to 20 years. As a photographer, actually, I can’t call myself a photographer yet – have not earned it; I own a highly rated camera with lenses – and a passion to learn photography…

    The reason I bring up my profession (C.I.S.), is since I have been in the industry I have seen, just like any other industry, technology grow by leaps and bounds on X, Y, and Z axis’. Recently, within the last year or so, there has been much speculation that the PC, as we know it, is dead (killed off by the tablet / mobile computing industry, and more so, “The Cloud”) – very similar to the sentiment expressed here about the DSLR vs. the Mirror-less systems…

    I could rifle off all the reasons why the PC won’t die off, and I won’t – again, if you wanted to send me private message and discuss it, glad to. What I will do, is apply similar sentiment / thoughts as related to the discussion / article, and though I am not a smart man / knowledgeable enough in these technologies I still think the same applies here…

    I’m going to speak generally, and along the lines of “restating the obvious” for the most part, as any technology, as it evolves and approaches a shift / jump into the “next” trend will incite discussion about the benefits / shortcomings of the old, and the benefits / shortcomings of the new – respectively DSLR / Mirrorless.

    Having only 3 – 4 years experience with cameras; obviously not that much, and less experience actually using them, I could not hold a candle to 99% of the people in this forum who have been doing this for as long as I have been doing computing or longer; fair to say?

    However, in my short experience and spending some time, owning a DSLR, forget for a moment what I own, I can tell you that I have spent countless hours, not just attempting to apply what I’ve learned, but in some cases attempting to capture (and re-capture) countless times, subjects, like the moon (for example) where inherent shake in the DSLR destroys my chances of the sharp image I think I can get. Now, in this case, I have tried demographic changes (for clear skies), renting sharpest lenses, different camera settings, and hanging a backpack off the bottom of a carbon fiber tripod etc… I could go on an on. No matter how good my camera is, I still can’t produce what appears to be a cutting edge photo of the moon…

    That is just an over exaggerated but small example of what I have encountered with DSLR shake of the mirror etc… Now, revealing what I own, a Nikon D810, and not having gone after a moon shot with it yet, I can tell you, and most of you know already, that there are 2 – 3 built in features to that camera which will aid in stabilization. Most of you could cite more pitfalls about DSLRs, that’s ok.

    Yet, if I moved to a mirrorless system, which could reduce shake to almost nil, I could not blame shake on a non-crisp image, correct.

    Still using my D810 as an example – I’m at a ballgame, I want to capture the split second a pitcher releases the ball, pristine capture of the ball threads, suspended, not one lick of blur – with the pitcher’s index or middle finger is still touching the ball in the last millisecond of release – and if I’m good enough, I can also capture the facial expression of inertial energy, which adds to the story of that pitcher releasing the 98+ mile / hour fastball 60ft 6 inches to the batter. And you already know, I most likely can’t do it with that camera. As a matter of fact, I could have a D4(s), and probably not pull that off…

    With a Nikon 1 v3, I stand a chance, correct? And frankly, anyone can argue that the spray n pray tool, at 20fps while focusing over 60fps locked on, would be an easy mark for that task capturing the pitcher.

    and though I know that the Nikon 1 v3 is not the best in image quality – by DXO standards it’s a dog for sure, yet in theory it can deliver on a dime…

    So, do I fortify my “By Thom-like” bag with a Nikon 1 v3? I may have to… because that 1200.00 small fry can do things not even a 6500.00 D4 can do, am I correct…

    I did not pick the Nikon 1 v3 because it had any special place per se in the upper ranks compared to other cameras which are light years ahead of it in image quality and features to get it there. I used it symbolically, and for the small but important fact that I can use my lenses on it – without any exposure loss, if I decide to get one… :)

    And yes, earlier in this sea of responses to the article members state we are getting really good at mirrorless technology though there are definitely advantages, currently, of the DSLR technology that mirrorless cannot touch – but may excel / exceed at someday…

    But for now, still using the D810 as an example, It’s a go to first camera, for 99% of my learning, enjoyment – it’s “abilities” of image quality are what’s most important. Something like the Nikon 1 v3 would be used only for what it can do and I accept it’s inability to produce an image like the D810… the trade off…

    Finally, in closing and semi-related to the DSLR vs. Mirrorless topic, is the other technology not spoken about (at least I have not seen it discussed on this site – I have to do further checking…) but what about Lightfield technology? Not speaking specifically about the Lytro cam, just speaking generally about the Lightfield technology itself…

    Though Lytro seems gimmicky, cute, let’s talk real world use of the technology in general – and let’s imagine that there is a Lightfield camera on the market which bar none, is advanced, desired by pro’s – here is how I would use it…

    Imagine you are at a wedding, you are done with the bride / groom / wedding party shots – the wedding is done, you have made your way to the reception / dinner with all the guests. And now it comes time for the bride and groom or the bride and her father to dance.

    With a lightfield camera and two photographers on scene you are framing the dancing couple, go a bit wide on your shot to capture some of the guests at their tables too, why, because Lightfield, after the fact, affords you the luxury no other camera, DSLR or Mirrorless can give you. While you capture the gaze the bride and groom give each other or the father giving his daughter away look he has in his eyes as he dances with her, you also have captured the guests faces / expressions as the stare in emotional participation at the dance – and with Lightfield technology, it can be all done in one or two shots… Now, that could be “cheating”, granted, yet not my point.

    My point being – Each of these technologies has their better attributes / usefulness that the opposing does not. Some advancements will be made in the older (DSLR), the newer (Mirrorless) will get better, and the gimmick may be the replacement for both – maybe…

    we’ll use what we can to get the job done…

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    • John Decker

      Robert, interesting perspective you bring. While the PC is not dead, it is not the centerpiece of the internet that it read give years ago.

      Then again, some people, like me, still shoot film. I’m sure there will always be a place for the DSLR, although not as prominent in five years as it is today.

      I think something like the Panasonic CM-1 is also a game changer. Not sure how phone tech and cameras merge in the future, but I see it coming. I’d love a phone like the Panny.

      I also agree that if there is something a camera can do, that I need in a regular basis, that my current setup can’t, then that is consideration for adding it to the kit. Be it the Nikon 1 v3 or Lytro or medium format digital, if the work can justify it I might buy one. If not, I might just rent when the situation calls for it.

      As far as your camera shake goes on your Nikon, you might want to try this if you haven’t already…

      http://nps.nikonimaging.com/technical_solutions/d810_tips/the_electronic_front/

      Happy New Year!

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  5. John Decker

    I’ve actually been a photojournalist for most of my career. Weddings have been part of the mix for the past 7 years since I left the newspaper industry.

    As far as af goes, the Olympus is really fast at af, I just can’t seem to get it to track moving objects as well as the Canons. Maybe it is a user error, but I have not been able to get it to work reliably enough to trust it in a situation where I get one chance at a photo.

    I find some wedding photographers adding mirrorless to the mix, but most still keeping DSLRs as well.

    I like tio mix it up a lot and have been known to shoot medium format film and polaroids at weddings in addition to digital. Lots of tools in the toolbox, some work better for certain things than others. If I could afford it I get a Pentax 645 digital… I would have s lot of fun with that.

    Happy New Year to you as well!

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  6. John Decker

    Kishore,
    Interesting thoughts on the future of gear.
    I’m a fan of the Olympus system and purchased three OM-D E-M1s in the last 12 months. I went with Olympus because of the robust lens lineup (and the fact that you can use the amazing Panasonic Lecia glass). I have a fairly complete set of glass 12mm f/2 Oly, 15 1.7 Panny, 25 1.4 panny, 42.5 1.2 panny, 75 1.8 Oly, 12-40 Oly Pro zoom, and recently picked up the 40-150 Oly Pro zoom.
    I’ve been a professional photographer for over 30 years I have to say that one of the main reasons for trying out the Olympus cameras is because of their size and weight. I’m a big guy, 6′ 2″ 200 lbs and these do not seem tiny in my hands, I rather like the feel of them. I bought the grip for it, but don’t like the extra weight and don’t find them necessary with the small lenses.
    For me the biggest current problem with using these all the time are tow things – one is the inability to use it above 1600 ISO (for me that is the ceiling) and two, the lack of a robust flash system.
    I also have a Canon kit that I use for a lot of my work, 5D III & 7D II. I use mostly the L zoom lenses, 16-35 2.8, 24-70 2.8 and 70-200 2.8, I also have a 50 1.2, 300 f4 and 100 2.8 macro.
    I will use my Olympus cameras when the light is good and things are not moving too fast. I love to use them for the getting ready photos at weddings, I usually use all three, one with the 15, one with the 25 and one with the 42.5, I keep the 12mm in my pocket in case I need it.
    These cameras are so nice to use, quiet, fast and accurate focusing, and I love the EVF and have gotten very used to using it.
    I shoot about 20 weddings a year, and an 8-12 hour day with two Canons and the 70-200 on one and 24-70 on the other is just a back breaker (especially if you have to use strobes as well). I went for the Olys to save my back – even if I just use the Olys for 3-4 hours at a wedding I feel much better by the end of the day. As far as IQ goes, sure the 5D MKIII has better IQ, but for much of what I do the IQ out of the Olys is really nice.
    I also find that the Autofocus on the Olys is quite remarkable. I can shoot the 42.5 wide open and get is in focus almost all of the time – with my Canon 50 1.2 I do not get nearly the keeper rate that I get with the Olys.

    When I am shooting and the light is bad and I need 3200 or 6400 or flash I will switch over to my Canon’s (sometimes – since 6400 at f2.8 gives me the same shutter speed as 1600 at f1.4). I also find that the tracking on the Canons is far superior to the Olympus at this point (or that I haven’t figured out how to use tracking well enough on the Olys), so if the subject is moving I am going to go with the 7D II or 5D III.
    To me the best part of the Canon system, and the reason I will not be giving them up anytime soon, is the 600 EX RT flash system. I find these speedlites to be amazing and frequently use 3-5 of these at weddings and other events (sometimes more). The radio controls on these is unparalleled and the ease of use and accuracy is like nothing I have ever used. They are also great for daytime flash shooting when I want shallow DOF with strobe… I can gang 4 of the 600s in a softbox and shoot close to wide open – the results are pretty amazing.
    As much as I love my Olympus cameras, and look forward to what they come up with in the future, I can’t see ditching the Canons until I have a comparable flash solution (High Speed Synch and radio controls without using a third party device).
    Again, thanks for you article, good reading, just thought I throw it out there why the current mirrorless solutions aren’t all there for me yet.
    That said, If Canon came out with a APS-C mirrorless camera, I would take a serious look at it as I am sure I could use the 600s on them.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi John, thanks for this tome os a response haha. You do touch upon some of the specifics feeding both sides of the arguments, which makes sense given your propensity to use both types of system.

      It’s interesting to hear you say that tracking moving objects is a reason for you to reach for the DSLR, given that mirrorless systems are always touting the world’s fastest AF, but in my experience I agree with you in the comfort in the DSLR AF (higher system models). But that’s something that will change this year I bet, as it’s a relatively easy thing to change. Also, the high ISO renderings on the A7 and even the Fuji line-up is brilliant – I mean better than a lot of DSLRs in my opinion.

      Where I will hand it to you though, is in the flash systems. There is no comparison right now. I want to say this will change this year, but I’m not so sure. I feel like that may be one of the last parts to get sorted.

      I think it’s also worth noting, that in my talks with photographers, mirrorless seems to get the most resistance from wedding photographers. On the surface I can understand this – there’s a lot to wedding photography, and it requires a broad array of gear. Also, I find wedding photographers on a whole (I’m gonna get yelled at for this) are very very obsessive with gear, and a bit stuck in their ways of approaching the craft. There’s not much forward thinking in the field, in my opinion. I have a feeling wedding photographers will be about the last ones to generally shift. I could be wrong. But you must let me know, if the options for flashes change for mirrorless systems, if you do end up making the switch – I’ll be looking out. Cheers, and best for the new year.

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  7. fotosiamo

    I do think that DSLRs will eventually go the way of the dinosaurs because the mirrorless option can be more versatile in the future, especially at the rate that EVFs are improving. Hopefully, the technology from higher end external ones you see from the cinema world will also trickle down, too.

    While I’ve shot with Canon DSLRs from time to time, generally I prefer my Sony a7R, especially when I want to double check critical focus. That is as easy as zooming in when looking through the viewfinder.

    Additionally, other than the mirror box and the optical viewfinder, there really isn’t anything that is on today’s DSLR that can’t be put into a mirrorless body. All the electronics are there. Only hard part is putting them into a smaller body (and being small should not always be the biggest goal of mirrorless camera. Options are great to have).

    That being said, one thing I love about the a7R, the GH4, and the X-T1 is because they are smaller and lighter than traditional DSLRs, I can use the battery grip on them 100% of the time without becoming too burdened by weight.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Joe, you and I are pretty much on the right same page. I think the technology already allows for a more reliable amount of precision which is widely appreciated. I also think where they are lacking will be upgraded rapidly. But you’ve hit the nail on the head as far as I’m concerned, in saying that there really isn’t anything on a DSLR that can’t be figured into a mirrorless, and that’s precisely why I think the DSLR will go.

      I do, however, understand certain people’s hesitation right this second given the lens options, and flash options, but again, that will change.

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  8. Aaron Gilpin

    I love my DSLR’s I’ve looked at mirrorless options but to me they don’t sit right in my hands. The only reason I would buy one is for travel or family outings etc. but for my pro work its DSLR all the way. The assumption that mirrorless will eventually catch up to DSLR on specs and take over is wrong in my opinion, dslr’s will and are catching upto medium format cameras and I think it’s these that will become obsolete within the next 5 years or so, we have already seen medium format cameras trying to become more like dslr’s (Pentax) and with Rumors of canon creating 52 megapixel 5d Mk IV and not to mention the cost of medium format whos going to buy one. Mirrorless cameras have there place and will sell very well, but imo dslr’s are here for a long time yet.

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  9. Neil Killion

    I am looking at the mirrorless setups, but the one concern I have is how they will hold up in colder temperatures. I am in the Northwest and unfortunately rain and cooler temps are part of the job description up here unless you stick to being inside.
    The glass issue only seems to be prevalent among Nikon users as Canon glass appears to work fine, at least with the Sony system.
    Size is another concern but the A7II seems to work well with my bear paws.
    One thing is for sure, with all the attention these systems are getting right now they will only get better.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Hi Neil, unfortunately I must admit I know little about how these cameras do in the colder temperatures. I’d imagine they would be ok in most, I mean I have friends in Toronto who shoot mirrorless in the winter with no problems, but perhaps they don’t do what you do. I’ll make an inquiry into this, and see what I come up with. Cheers

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  10. Jean-Francois Perreault

    I don’t think DSLRs are going to die soon but they will eventually.
    I read not long ago that Canon was seeing a drop in entry-level DSLRs. My guess is that new buyers are more and more going the mirrorless way. As I saw a few weeks ago at a camera store, the only cameras being looked at were mirrorless. That says a lot about what’s coming this year in my opinion.

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  11. Thorsten Ott

    Personally I still prefer the DSLR and I don’t see mirrorless in my near future. I like the crispness of a DSLR viewfinder and the ability to see details clearly. As far as size is concerned, anything smaller than a D750 would not be comfortable in my hands.

    24MP is the sweet-spot for what I shoot.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      HI Thorsten, thanks for joining. It seems, from the little you’ve said, that we’re on a similar page. What I think will probably begin to shift is what we view the advantages of mirrorless cameras to be – aside from size. I too find most smaller than the D750 a bit small for my liking, but an A7 fits nicely.

      As far as the viewfinder, well, while I do like my optical viewfinders, I just think the EVFs are going to evolve, and do so quickly, and already, the detail the good ones provide are ample for most things, and I have 20/15 vision. Mind you, I’ve seen your work, and it’s very good, and I think it should be said here that, again, those who shoot for bread and shelter, will likely be the last to shift – but we don’t drive the market really.

      Cheers

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    • Thorsten Ott

      Thank you for the kind words Kishore!

      As you and others have pointed out, the mirrorlesss systems are certainly making great headway, leaps and bounds even. I still find myself asking for a complete system based around a single camera body.

      Both Nikon and Canon have great lens and body offerings. Canon has the wonderful Magic Lantern firmware additions for filmmakers. Nikon has the superb Sony sensors. Sony has very interesting new mirrorless bodies but few lens offerings. And Samsung and Pentax and Olympus and Panasonic are all getting very competitive.

      What I would like to see in 2015 is biased towards my shooting style:

      1) 24MP with super low noise up to 12,800 ISO.
      2) For Nikon to release their SDK or add Focus Peaking/Wave Form to the D750/D810
      3) New zoom lenses that match or exceed the resolution of the current 24MP/36MP sensor.
      4) Lets add a 50 frame RAW buffer to current DSLR’s
      5) Autofocus points that extend to the edge of the viewfinder.
      6) Clean 4:2:2 10 bit out.

      I don’t need a new DSLR body every 9-12 months. I need a well polished body that shoots great stills and video without spending additional $$$$ on an Atomos Ninja Blade/Samurai or Zacuto EVF just to have the Focus Peaking/Waveform feature.

      The rush to make everything smaller….hmm. I have spoken with 8+ female wedding photographers and not one complained about the weight of a fully rigged D800/810. The image quality and autofocus speed and accuracy was paramount to them, not the weight. I feel, as professionals in our targeted field, we accept the heavier bodies and pro lenses as “it is part of the game.”

      B&H Photo has an interesting read comparing the 3 Sony A7 models and “which one should you buy”. I spent a good 60 minutes reading the article and came to the conclusion that not one of them filled all or part of my current needs. The A7ll was the most promising. I think I will wait another year for the A9.

      Sure, we have all these great new cameras entering the market. But has Nikon fully tweaked the D750/D810 firmware to full potential?

      Do Canon and Nikon really need 52MP sensors for wedding & commercial photographers? I had no idea that brides are so interested in ordering 30”x40” albums? My largest print in an art gallery was 72”x 84” and looked just fine from a 24MP sensor.

      My vote goes to exploring what the 24/36 MP sensor is still capable of regarding low noise levels. Adding 4K and 4:2:2 10bit ProRes across the board to pro bodies with fast data rates. Including useful basic video tools such as focus peaking and waveform.

      I must be dreaming…LOL.

      A safe and joyous New Year to you, SLR Lounge, and all the readers!

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  12. Ralph Hightower

    Who knows what the future holds for photography? I don’t. But I think it is too soon to call the DSLR a dinosaur. Will photojournalists and sports photographers ditch their DSLRs and particularly for sports photographers, their super telephoto lenses to go mirrorless?
    I have been a serious amateur photographer since 1980; I still shoot with the Canon A-1 that I bought new in 1980. When I started researching digital cameras, my only focus was the DSLR camera since that is as comfortable as an old shoe; plus it has the versatility of lenses from fisheye, tilt-shift, wide to super telephoto. Even though I now own a DLSR, that doesn’t mean that my film cameras have become shelf queens. I continue to shoot film along with digital and will continue while film is still available and hasn’t become prohibitively expensive.
    There is something tangible about holding up a negative or slide and being able to see what the image is about.

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  13. Pye

    I agree with you Kish, more likely than not, we are seeing the end of the DSLR days. However, the length of that end is I think greatly over exaggerated.

    This latest line up of mirrorless cameras are fantastic. But, still there are significant reasons to own a DSLR over smaller cameras. While those difference may only matter to professionals, they are still there and I think it will probably take a good 5-10 years before those strengths are completely eroded away.

    For me, the main reasons I can’t completely switch over to my Sony system at the moment are things like EVF display lag (especially in low light). The display doesn’t do a good job resolving color graduation, so shooting high key, blowing out backgrounds, and more advanced types of shots are difficult to see visually on the display. The lack of lenses is a huge huge huge factor. Overall design and ergonomics, etc.

    I definitely think that smaller camera bodies are going to win out in the end (especially with the masses), but just like we see with medium format and film cameras, I believe there will still be a need for DSLRs for quite some time.

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    • fred palagonia

      I do agree pretty much with what you all are talking about .Except with one tiny thing. I don’t see DSLR’s going away at all..especially if the keep adding more megapixels. I see medium format going the way of the dinosaur and those DSLR’s pretty much replacing them in all genres of photography if they haven’t done so already. I think modular cameras will be the wave of the future.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      You know Pye, those very same reasons you can’t, and won’t switch over to Sony mirrorless systems as yet, are pretty much the list of reasons why most pros won’t either. I do, however, think all of those things will change, and change quickly. The lens line-up may be last, but I am seeing more and more working pros who really only have 5 lenses, and use 3 for almost anything. I think the demand is there now for these companies to make the requisite lenses, and as such they will. Mind you, for my taste at the moment, or my stubbornness, it is actually the lack of lens choice that prevents me move to mirrorless at the moment.

      5 -10 years is very much the timeline I was pointing to in the post, because I think by 5 years all the wants and mirrorless options will be there, but it’ll take another 5 for people to let go. But convenience tends to win out in the long run as it’s what the masses want – and our business now is driven by masses (the whole semi-pro undercutting the pro, thing). I mean, we mourned for vinyl when he CD came about, but we switched because it was more convenient and almost as good. Then the MP3 came and that meant 1000 songs in your pocket – and we jumped ship again. DSLRs, to me, are simply CDs.

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  14. J. Cassario

    Kish, great article, but a few things my friend that I have learned. I used to think that the DSLR was going to be around for a long time, and the talk of mirrorless was a ways off. Then as more photographers jumped ship to the lighter and smaller bodies, it became more apparent that I could be wrong. Now, Im back to thinking the DSLR will be around for a lot longer. You and I both get to review and test a lot of gear, we get to try a lot of cameras that others dont get the opportunity to do. With that being said, I have now had the opportunity to shoot with the Fuji system, the Sony A7 and A7S, and the Olympus. Last week I went out and bought a new camera…the D750. As good as those cameras are, I still feel they aren’t the full package yet for a professional wedding photographer. Landscape, maybe. Portrait or studio, possibly. But, the Fuji being the closest in my opinion to being the best option, still lacks the fullframe sensor I want. The Sony A7 series, as good as they are, until Sony starts putting out lenses that can compete with the Zeiss, Leica, Nikon, Canon, Fuji…they are still way off. I need quality glass that can Autofocus. The A7 is great for a backup body or to use like my Leica, when things slow down and you can take your time to manual focus. But, for someone like myself, I have a camera that fills that gap already, if you want to call it that…my Leica M9.
    What I’m saying is as much as I have been thinking that DSLR’s are on their way out, I think it’s still a ways off. The D750 is almost the same size and weight of the A7S and A7II, and image quality is almost identical, I have AF with all my Nikon glass, where I dont have that option with the Sony. At this point, I don’t see an advantage for myself to leave the DSLR world yet.

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    • Kishore Sawh

      Jay, there’s a lot of validity to what you’re saying. I too feel that DSLRs still have a place, and that’s in my hands for certain work. But that’s ‘certain’ work. AS you rightly said, when I’m doing test shots or portraits I’m quite fine with an A7. My point was to say that we, aren’t the majority. I think it’s fare to say that camera companies are marketing to a much broader group than those who make a living with the field. It’s the majority that will dictate the change.

      Add to that, that when DSLRs DO eventually fade out, and they will, our time with them comparatively to, say, film, is going to be very very short. To say the Sony system is way off, may be true, but again, what about in 5 years? IIndustry changes on a whole are going to dictate, I bet, that less marketing and manufacturing is done for the professional.

      The issue of size, however, is a good one. I’ve been thinking for a while that there’s going to come a point where people realize smaller isn’t better, especially for guys like us with big hands. But you said it yourself Jay, the image quality with a D750 to A7 is the same for all intents and purposes. The A7 is the first of its kind and only a year in. If photographers weren’t invested in a system, which would the average go for? Time will tell, but I know when bet lays.

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    • J. Cassario

      I agree completely, its definitely an interesting time right now. Just 5 years ago, the options were pretty slim for professional quality digital cameras. You had Canon and Nikon, an entry level, intermediate, and a couple different more expensive “pro” options….that was it. Today, you have a lot more options, and more on their way. It should be an interesting few years ahead of us. I think Sony is very close, as is Fuji and Olympus. I think Nikon and Canon now realize they need to make a lot of changes in their strategies. If Canon comes out with a 52mp sensor, but it lacks amazing dynamic range and clean ISO sensitivity, its going to flop. We’ve watched over the years as the higher mp war has evolved into the who can shoot clean images when the sun goes down and the lights are out. Sensitivity has taken over now that most photographers have realized that 16-24mp is plenty.
      In terms of weight, your right Kish, the most comfortable camera right now for me is the D750. The smaller and lighter Sony is a little too small for my hands. That being said, the D4S was like carrying around a small refrigerator and I felt like I should have been able to put ice and a soda in it.
      Bottom line, great article my friend, and a lot of excellent points. Should be an interesting few years to say the least.

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    • Rafael Steffen

      I totally agree with the fact that Dslrs will continue for a long time.

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    • Holger Foysi

      I feel, too, that DSLRs still have their place. I tried out most mirrorless systems. The Olympus didn’t have a FF sensor and lenses generating shallow DOF are very expensive (compared to Nikon 1.8G lenses, for example). The XT1 is nice, but buttons are too small and to use it slows me down to much. Additionally I needed the grip to hold it comfortably, making it larger and heavier again. The A7ii now is the first giving me satisfaction with IQ and being just large enough. For “slow” work it is more than enough. But weddings or shooting horses or dogs under constant movement makes it a hazzle. Just not responsive, fast enough with bad battery life. The upcoming A9 will probably tick most of the boxes, but there are still fast _native_ lenses missing (and here I mean fast lenses + zooms, not F4 zooms, although they certainly negate the form factor of smaller mirrorless systems). I want performance and don’t care about size in the first place. The advantage of mirrorless for me is the _option_, to be small and lightweight, to see the histogram in the EVF, to magnify and use manual lenses. But for critical work, my wife and me still can’t imagine leaving our D810/D610 at home right now. But this could change fast.

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    • Graham Curran

      My bank account can’t afford to live in interesting times.

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