The DSLR is dead long live the DSLR - Luciano Espirito Santo - lsantofotografia

The DSLR is dead. Long live the DSLR!


I’ve being watching a lot of camera reviewers, vloggers and podcasters express surprise and disappointment with the mirrorless releases from Canon and Nikon. Many of them even said they don’t understand why the R an Z cameras are so inferior in specs and key features to the companies best DSLRs, and are not even in the same league as the competition. Don’t they want us to buy these cameras?

No. Not if you are a “pro” photographer. I think the message from Nikon and Canon is very clear. Canon and Nikon serious users should stick to DSLR. Preferably, for a long time. That’s why they have intentionally crippled the R and Z cameras. To protect DSRL sales. That’s why we have put up with all the silly marketing talk about “the future” of mirrorless, all the great and excellent line of camera and lenses someday they will provide for us. What they are really saying is: “don’t risk your income, stick to our real cameras, the DLSRs”. These new mirrorless cameras are for enthusiasts and prosumers.

There is a whole subtext in the marketing pieces coming from them. And frankly, I find it a little condescending. “Look,” they seem to imply, “you are one of our loyal customers, but you are that curious… I understand, it is ok to ask for new and shiny tools, even better ones than what we have right now, but why change what is working for you? … Alright, alright, there is no need to threat a move to Sony... if you must try one of these ridiculous things with no mirror inside (so strange!), we’ll give you a taste. There is no need to say goodbye. You don’t want to lose all that money, sell all your wonderful tools, just to have a little fun. Here, take the R or the Z. Something for you to play on weekends, to take on vacations, to give yourself some happy time. You deserve it, you are so loyal! But remember, when you go to work, take the real deal. Stick to trusted stuff. Be safe, stick to what works!”

Nikon and Canon will keep milking the DSLR cow until its dead and rotten. Right now, they see mirrorless as a threat, not an opportunity. To prolong the pentaprism technology and suck from it all the money they possibly can, for as long as they can: that is the priority. They are not buying time to develop better technologies and features, like IBIS for the R camera. Canon could have developed it in the last few years. Fujifilm did just that. But they want to sell a lot more D850s and 5Ds, and probably Mark V and VI, and D870, D900 and many more. They are betting loyal Canon and Nikon professional users, heavily invested in their gear, will be content with these subpar cameras for a time. It’s a gamble to preserve sales, and it may very well work. Maybe a very slow transition to mirrorless cameras will maximize the money, in the long run. But it is just sad.

The lack of innovation and boldness these companies are showing, on one side, and the believe their foolish marketing talk will convince most of us, on the other, are the real disappointments, for me. “Long live the DSLR!” sounds incredibly old these days.