DSLR's - 'Their days are numbered' Oh Really! - The rather wonderful Nikon Df and mirrorless moaning.


Despite almost desperate attempts on the part of some mirrorless interchangeable camera owners to sound the death knell of DSLR's, sales figures show that simply isn't the case. Most statistics I've seen show ALL (non smartphone) camera sales dropping, but regarding interchangeable lens cameras DSLR's still outsell mirrorless interchangeable cameras by 2:1 and sometimes in different parts of the world by 3:1. Like a lot of pundits I thought that this situation would have moved much more in the MI direction, but it seems that the camera buying public (what's left of it) has no such intention. People who want a 'serious' camera are still more inclined to buy a DSLR, so it seems that they will be around for a long time to come. And despite predictions of their eventual demise it seems that, in fact, that they probably won't disappear at all. So maybe Nikon and Canon are going the right way after all and all us internet chatterers who take more account of the noise we all make, rather than actual sales figures, will have to eat our words.

In MY defence, I can say that I have never taken every opportunity to 'rubbish' DSLR's. I have some reservations about the size and weight of some of them, but I've always enjoyed using those systems and in particular my latest example of the genre. The Nikon Df.

It's simply quicker at getting the shot captured, the battery lasts for days and there's still something satisfying about the old school bulk. As people are surely aware by now, I like cameras with 'character' something apart from the mainstream. I like odd combinations of lenses and cameras too and the Df gives me the chance to play around with my Voigtlander 20mm and Series E 100mm manual focus lenses. 

But the lens that gets used the most is the old 28-200mm G zoom pictured above. It's got no AF motor so it's pretty light and small for a 35mm zoom of this length and while it's not the sharpest lens I own, with a bit of post processing tweaking it produces great files. 

The whole thing that baffles me about the mirrorless v DSLR debate is the unnecessary combativity involved. When mirrorless interchangeable first appeared they were seriously undervalued and almost written off by DSLR owners as too small and therefore not possessing of the appropriate quality. The fact that the original Panasonic G1 had image quality the equal of cameras like the Nikon D3 and D700 at low ISO's didn't seem to make any difference. Now the situation has reversed and mirrorless interchangeable cameras are overvalued. According to some they have replaced the ageing old-fashioned 'DSLR dinosaurs' whose disappearance is imminent. 

So how come the DSLR is still the camera of choice for the (vast) majority of professional photographers and how come the great camera buying public (what do they know?) still buy two DSLR's for every one Mirrorless Interchangeable camera? So why hasn't mirrorless taken over? My answer is that because DSLR's work. And in general they are good value, particularly at the cheaper end. I've written it before and I'll write it again, mirrorless cameras are (mostly) overpriced. That may sound a bit odd coming from someone who is in the process of spending a LOT of money on a Leica T system. But then that Leica T system will hold on to more of it's value than the vast majority of mirrorless interchangeable cameras whose S/H value drops like a stone the moment we've all bought them. Plus Leica aren't in the habit of 'upgrading' their models (if that's what it is) in months rather than years.

I've always thought that mirrorless interchangeable owners could actually be a little more gracious. We used to be, back in the days when we were in the minority. But then hang on, mirrorless interchangeable owners are STILL in the minority and we may make a lot more noise on the photographic internet than DSLR owners but that noise seems not to be reflected in sales. I recommended a great article in my last post  and it sums up the situation nicely. Canon aren't even releasing the EOS-M3 in the US, because potential camera buyers in that country seem to have little enthusiasm for MI cameras. At least the ones that don't look like DSLR's. 

Now I own a LOT of MI cameras, but I have no desire to make sure all other types of cameras disappear. They won't of course and there is the possible scenario that in a squeezed camera market, it may well be the MI cameras that get pushed out. At least the ones that don't follow the SLR design ethic. And I suspect that design ethic is still appealing because again it works. It's comfortable to create images with and no matter what else appears, it seems that's what people want. And as I'm fond of writing, to many it's a design that looks like a 'proper' and 'serious' camera. It's no accident surely that Olympus starting shifting more units with their DSLR lookalikes as have Fuji. Any takers on a bet that the X-Pro 2 will never materialise or even (heaven help us!) look like the X-T1!!

Again speaking personally I'm glad we have the options. I don't want to see DSLR's disappear, not that they will and I have no desire to criticise those who still wish to use them. Just as I thought it was mindless for DSLR owners to attempt to belittle MI owners, it's just as empty headed to try and do the reverse. And yes, under many circumstances a MI camera can do the job of the DSLR, but then so what? Thats's always been the case. Leicas were initially regarded as toys by the 'stuck in the mud' photographic 'gurus' of their day and they were roundly trashed as was 35mm by medium format film camera owners, early digital by film users, APS-C and m4/3 sensor by FF users and so on.

In many ways the photographic internet is a joke and some may have noticed that my gaps away from it are getting longer. And it's not that I've lost my enthusiasm for photography, photographic gear and writing about both of those things, far from it, but I HAVE lost my enthusiasm for the adversarial nature of camera ownership and all of the airhead banalities and misrepresentations that seems to breed. And the oft pronounced and as it happens inaccurate forecasting of DSLR doom is symptomatic of that. And it's as pointless as it is pathetic. Long live the DSLR, long live the Mirrorless Interchangeable camera, long live medium format, smartphones and all other manifestations of image creation. Above all long live choice!