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Think DSLRs Are On The Cusp Of Death? News Of Nikon & Canon Delays Might Suggests Otherwise

By Kishore Sawh on July 31st 2017

Many in the photography world with access to manufacturers and a finger on the beat can tell the way the world is swaying is towards mirrorless. Whether it’s in two years of ten, we see that it appears to be the way, at least for now. There’s a lot of resistance from a larger section of the photo world, however, who believe this demand and push for mirrorless is artificially fabricated, and while we might disagree, there’s no denying the DSLR is, however reluctant to new tech adoption as it may be, is still what people are buying.

Nikon has peppered the news this year with teases of what it was doing to celebrate its centennial anniversary, and part of that was to make special edition D5s and D500s. Well, the world was recently informed that the special edition D5 production and delivery would be delayed, and while they have stated, “…we will postpone the release in early August, as it takes time to final adjust the product,” they also apologize for the inconvenience to, “a great deal to customers waiting for product launch.” I’ve also been informed that, despite what you personally might think of the 100th anniversary D5, that the queue for one is long.

In addition, despite the rather palpable amount of vocal criticism about Canon’s upcoming 6D Mark II, that too is delayed and Canon’s issued statement straight up states that it’s due to high demand:

“Digital SLR camera that we are planning to release on August 4 EOS 6D Mark II · EF 24-70 F4L IS USM Lens Kit We are currently receiving very many orders that exceed the plan…”

So here we have two anticipated and yet critically and publicly disparaged cameras that are exceeding the expected demand of the manufacturers to the point of pushing back production and delivery. It begs the question, “why?”

Are consumers just reluctant to change? Is the mass of purchasing public (that’s not you if you’re a pro because the numbers just aren’t there) naive to what’s available and benefits of mirrorless? Or is it just that there’s something about a DSLR they prefer?

To be fair, it’s not just the latest behaviors of the titans that speaks to this but even CIPA data released earlier this year. CIPAs figures around March were accompanied by an industry assessment that showed a market in some form of recovery, particularly for interchangeable-lens cameras, of which DSLRs still remain the bulk. But again, why are they still the bulk?

It wouldn’t be a stretch to think that the purchasing public are buying DSLRs largely because they’re unacquainted with mirrorless. That the term is one heard in passing but that they still associate a ‘proper camera’ with the look of a DSLR. And while the likes of those who frequent resources like SLR Lounge, DPReview, or Imaging Resource and others may be up-to-date, we don’t represent the masses, and that’s something we all would do well to remember. But then again that doesn’t really explain the demand for the 6D Mark II now does it? Does it?


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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. Dan Taylor

    I’m primarily an event/music shooter, and prefer to shoot with three cameras. A while back a buddy of mine threw a Fujifilm  X100 at me and just said, “Take this to your next shoot. Tell me what you think afterwards.” Well, that was a full system conversion ago. Loved my Nikons, but don’t miss the weight at the airport. And as fall as full frame v. Crop, Before selling my last Nikon, I did an exact side-by-side comparison shoot. D810 with an 85mm at f/1.4. and an X-T1 with the 56mm at f/1.4. Same ISO, same shutter speed, same aperture, same model, tripod, etc.  On average most people, including photographic colleagues got it wrong when I asked, “Which is the Nikon, which is the Fuji?”

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  2. Will Condon

    Couldn’t it be much simpler than this? Pro photographers are awaiting the release of a new Pro DSLR because there simply isn’t a mirrorless option???? Let Nikon/Canon release a “PRO-Mirrorless”…..analyze those sales then you’ll really learn…..probably never going to happen. They just waiting in line for the only thing available

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  3. Eric Salas

    We don’t run around using a “Zach Morris” phone anymore right ? 

    So it’s safe to say your DSLR will be gone shortly and the only ones saying “no” are the ones saying, “Sony doesn’t have enough glass”

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  4. Tim Driman

    I have been a Canon guy for 18 years ( Wildlife and action sports)  and currently shoot the 1DX MKii/200mm-400mmf4.0+1.4x ….I am getting awesome results withy this rig……. 

    And then I saw the specifications of the SONY A9, which blew my socks off! – If they were true I thought, “this is such a step upwards in delivering what I need…” I then started digging and reading as much as I could find out….OK , I was coninced, so I purchased a SONY A9 with the 70mm-200mmf2.8+2x Converter…

    So far, I have to be very honest, I am blown away by what I am finding out ( For myself, and not what I am reading in all the various media forms….)

    The systems are different, but similar in some ways, and admittedly it does take some learning…. I haven’t learned everything yet, and as I use this rig, the more it surprises me to the upside…

    Main thing is the quality of the image… Every bit as good, if not better than my Canon rig, and that is really saying something!.

    Tracking: The tracking is amazing, but one needs to understand the numerous variations of tracking that are available in this camera… It’s not “one-size-fits-all”…. It is  very much “horses for courses”, and there are numerous options available. These options really do what everyone says…And more!

    Battery life: For those peeps who complain about battery life….Come-on guys, just purchase a few spares and that argument goes away.

    EVF: Yes, it is new. I love to hear the “clunk, clunk, clunk of my 1DX MKii, but I have set my SONY A9 to hear a feint sound that I can hear when the shutter goes off… It can’t be heard by others around me, And I like it like that !

    One thing we should all understand is that photography is for everyone, with hugely varied needs, at all levels of proficiency, with vastly varied budgets…. 

    Instead of telling the world that one system is better than the other, just quietly sit down and divide a large blank page into two halves…One the left, put all the positives, and one the right, put all the negatives…..

    Remove the emotion and use fact…Mechanically, lectronic systems are more modern, and factually, they are quicker and more efficient….

    Will we see mirrorless eventually take over? I will stick my neck out and say a resounding YES, for many practical reasons… Delivering desired results; cost; size; ultimate simplicity once you understand the new system and a number of other factors….. The impdeiment to this is that many of us have built systems and have invested heavily which makes switching expensive….. But let me assure everyone of one thing…The longer you wait and hold on to old technology, the quicker it will lose value…It is just a matter of timing which dictates the magnitude of your ultimate loss…

    At this moment in time the CANIKON peeps have been totally blindsided by SONY, and to a lesser extent FUJI, and if they don’t keep pace in the same way that they did with DSLR’s, they will ultimately follow KODAK….

    Will CANIKON actually pay attention to mirrorless technology, and make a serious effort to “get with the plan”…… I certainly hope so, because it would be sad to see icons like these two disappear….

    As for sharing important  information with their supporters/clients/customers…. If the big brands continue to be SO secretive, people will lose faith, and give them up as a bad job, because the big brands are too frugal with encouraging news that their loyal followers will be able to continue  supporting  these great brands….

    The public follows good news and information….. They hate secrecy, because obfuscation breeds distrust…

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    • Ralph Hightower

      Canon guy for 37 years. I still use my 37 year-old A-1. I added a used New F-1 in 2013 and a 5D III, also in 2013.

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  5. John Sanders

    I personally like both style cameras but was recently working a job and had to use one of their mirrorless sony camera’s for some time (doing photo & video work). Once I got used to it, I felt right at home with it. When I started using my Canon again, it felt like I went from an iPhone back to an old flip phone! The technology was very nice and really made me miss many of those features. I understand both sides of the argument but I can def. see the mirrorless growing leaps & bounds if the manufacturers keep putting their efforts & new technology into it (which they are).

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  6. Stephen Jennings

    I’ve tested several mirrorless cameras, the last one I used for a weekend covering jobs from weddings to fast action sports was the Fuji GFX. Of all of them that I’ve used, from Sony, Fuji, Lumix and Olympus .. the only camera that I would ever consider buying was the Fuji Xpro2. That was actually really fun to shoot with. Otherwise, I just don’t like mirrorless – most specifically, I absolutely HATE the EVF “experience.” I like looking through a prism, it feels more like photography to me, it feels like I’m more connected to my subjects.  I can think of the settings off the top of my head, I don’t need or want some goofy battery draining mini screen showing me what the world will look like when I push the button, I want to see what the world looks like naturally. 

    I won’t be surprised when Mirrorless takes over, particularly with newer and younger photographers. The difference between film to digital and DSLR to EVILs is that the DSLR is still the same thing as a mirrorless camera – it just functions differently – thus no inherent setback or flaw. Essentially, for consumers like me who prefer a DSLR, there’s no technical “need” to switch to mirrorless. My photos will still be amazing, they’re still digital, and there’s nothing a mirrorless can do that a DSLR can’t (except perhaps be silent, or quieter?) 

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    • Koma Thornton

      [Koma Thornton has deleted this comment]

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    • adam sanford

      Wow.  There are a few things mirrorless can do that FF SLRs cannot (or manufacturers will never let them) do:

      1) Focus peaking / MF lens assist without needing to swap out your focusing screens*

      2) Adapt other mounts’ lenses.

      3) No mirror slap.

      4) Less mechanical mechanisms that cycle and eventually fail.  Mirrorless should be more reliable than its DSLR counterpart.

      5) Electronic shutters unlock 1/16000, 1/32000 shutter speeds.  Beyond the sports opportunities, this also lets you leave NDs at home when shooting f/1.4 glass on a really bright day.

      6) Amplify light in a dark room*.

      7) AF points spread all the way across the viewfinder*.

      8) Fit in your pocket (with a small number of slower primes), get into some concerts/events/arenas by staying under a certain size requirement, etc.

      9) Back up your primary FF body with another FF body that takes up as much space in your bag as a wonder bread sandwich.

      *and no, doing the same in LiveView with the camera 12″ from your face is not remotely the same shooting experience.  I’m talking about doing the above while handholding a camera in a  comfortable / traditional fashion.

      I’m no mirrorless fanboy — my primary rig is a 5D3 and the only mirrorless I own is my iPhone.  But even I concede that mirrorless has a bright future for reasons other than size and production cost.  It is the undeniable future of the photography world (with the exception of perhaps the top top most demanding folks that shoot sports/wildlife).

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  7. Meng Tian

    Battery life: I guess most people use a DSLR for traveling. And I don’t want to carry around tons of batteries. My 60D runs on one charge for a few days, shooting a few thousand photos. I don’t even turn it off but over night. It’s always ready in a blink of an eye.

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  8. robert garfinkle

    Hey, DSLR will see it’s last days when nobody buys them anymore. When the most recent model produced collects dust on a shelf then there is no reason to make them after that. Right?

    We are not there yet.

    MFR’s are still building upon the last technology, advancing…

    When they can’t, then DSLR dies.

    I grew up on them. And yes, battery life is ridiculously important, to me anyway. If I can go many sessions without having to change out a power source, I’m all for D

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  9. Koma Thornton

    chester bennington’s career has more hope than dsrls.

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  10. Jacobus DeWet

    Yes DSLR is not dying, it does not have a disease of some sorts. I have been using SLR and DSLR for 40 yrs. I recently bought a Lumix a Dubai Airport as a small camera on business trips. In my off time I walk and take pictures. Got home and dumped it as it is silent, I want to hear the shutter, it makes me feel interactive and connected, I know the image was taken, I don’t have to look on the monitor to see if it took the picture. So I am still looking for a small travel Camera with interchangeable lens. I don’t care if it is mirrorless or not, the technology does not bother me. If it fits my requirements and it is mirrorless, great, if it is DSLR, great. But for my Wildlife, Nature, Portraits, landscapes, honestly i fail to see why mirrorless would be better? Seams like if you buy mirrorless, you are now politically correct. Get a life, take pictures, it is only a camera.

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  11. Alex Petrenko

    I believe that high demand leads to absence of cameras AFTER release date, not to shift of that date.

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  12. Saurav Majumdar

    I am not a pro photographer of any sorts, more of an enthusiast ( i guess that’s what u call it) and i feel the cameras that i buy , more than just being all the numbers and specs sheet, is more of an emotional attachment. The feel of a big bulky camera , and the sound of the mirror going up and down as i click, is why i probably moved into the dslr game a long time back. U may argue that a mirrorless will give u insane performance. Yes that is true, but how will it make me feel using it at the end of the day. That’s what counts for me at the end of the day. Besides , i prefer OVF over EVF anyday. The focussing speed through OVMs are a real advantage i guess. And when im travelling i dont want a situation when i want to capture a moment and my battery has run out. U may call me old fashioned. But i guess untill nikon or canon gets a hybrid system ( OVM + IVM) in the same camera i will stick to dslrs 

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  13. Chris Bonney

    Some people are missing the point. DSLR is not at end of life because it doesn’t work or isn’t a desirable form factor. It’s at the end of life because a mirror clapping around inside the camera belongs to the 20-th century and should be left there. For that matter, mechanical shutters are probably not long for this world either.

    Not so long ago you needed to change the film every 36 shots. Honestly, complaining about having to switch battery after 300 shots is  just a false objection against disrupting the status quo and finally moving into the age of truly digital cameras.

    I gave up waiting for Nikon and switched to Fujifilm. It’s the camera I wish Nikon could have offered me. If I could change one single thing to improve it, it would be enlarging the grip and in doing so, making space for a second or bigger battery.

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    • Austin French

      I disagree with the battery point. I love knowing I can go DAYS in a foreign country with my camera, a lens, and one battery. 1000 shots. Not ~300 depending on how much framing I do. I’ve even left my camera in overnight and woken up in a panic only to realize, it barely mattered. 

      I’ve been debating a mirrorless for a second system (probably a Sony or whoever gives me the widest lenses on fx)

      But I can’t see it replacing a dslr for my “serious” work.

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    • Chris Bonney

      Just re-read Austin French’s reply and had to laugh. Another 12 months and he will be wondering why he ever though that his Flintstone’s wagon of a DSLR was the right camera for ‘serious work’. 

      ‘Serious work’. Brilliant.

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  14. Joubert Cilliers

    If Nikon want to be really clever they will “somehow” make existing lenses fit on “new” mirrorless body 

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    • adam sanford

      They will fit.  100%.  You don’t walk away from the FX portfolio.  If Nikon puts out a mirrorless ILC that cannot adapt FX glass, sales will be abysmal. 

      The only question is if they keep the full flange distance on the mirrorless mount or if they ‘go thin’ and offer an FX adaptor.  Both will allow the use of FX glass.

      See attached for some clear and some sneakier/more subtle pros/cons.  It’s for Canon FF mirrorless, but the same logic applies for Nikon.

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    • Austin French

      Wait, no. I mean maybe… but why would I want to put a 3+ pound lens on a tiny mirrorless camera? 

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    • adam sanford

      Because the lenses are just as big/heavy on FF mirrorless as they are for an FF SLR.  Because physics.

      You can’t release a FF mirrorless system with just f/2 primes and f/4 zooms.  Ask Sony.  You either give people the means to put existing big FF glass on that body or design new big FF glass for that body.   Either way, that mirrorless body will be sporting huge lenses.

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  15. David Hodgins

    It’s the same as the Mac vs PC argument. And the Fuji vs Everyone argument. And the Sony vs Everyone argument. It’s touted as a battle of equals, but in terms of sales and market share, it’s most certainly not. Mirrorless may very well BE the way of the future, but the dSLR form-factor is here to stay. There are times when you really DO need all those buttons on the outside, and the smaller the bodies get, the harder it is to allocate real estate to functions.

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  16. Juan Madrigal

    Mirrorless cameras aren’t all that great! Optical viewfinders are a lot better then EVF’s (WYSIWYG. The mirrorless camera’s small form factor isn’t ergonomic (think big hands, big lenses, button placement etc…). Battery life on mirrorless cameras are not great. Weather sealing/durability is lacking on mirrorless. Among a slew of other issues.

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    • Austin French

      Agreed! Although once you use ovf for night shots. Holy crap that was amazing! Although I have no plans to move to mirrorless… if I shot a ton of night shots it might be worth it.

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