Boy, did this Gizmodo article set off the debate of the century at the TRG Reality studio the other day. The author of the article, Michael Hession, believes that mirrorless cameras (like the Fujifilm X-Pro1 or the Sony RX1) will be replacing DSLR cameras in the future. He says, “This is about a turning point in photography, and the relegation of one of its most popular formats [DSLR] into a purely niche product for pros.”
Now, let me say this: anything is possible in this day and age. I doubt the film photographers from 20 years ago could have predicted that the industry would be almost entirely digital in the very near future. Again, anything is possible. In my opinion, however, I don’t believe the technology of mirrorless cameras can catch up to, much less surpass, that of DSLRs fast enough to be relevant in the commercial/professional world. In fact, I think DSLRs have a much better chance of usurping medium format.
In the consumer world, though, mirrorless cameras are the best technological advancement since sliced bread. They offer about 90% of the technology offered by DSLRs and are far superior to any point-and-shoot currently on the market. They, too, have interchangeable lenses, great sensors, autofocus and low light capabilities. In fact, I bought one specifically to use as a personal camera, and I absolutely love it.
It’s that last 10% that makes the biggest difference. Mirrorless cameras fall short of DSLR stalwarts like Canon and Nikon, which is why Canon and Nikon have remained industry leaders decade after decade. Nikon and Canon’s DSLR cameras offer details and control, extreme autofocus tracking, incredible durability, tether-ability, bigger and better file sizes with each new generation, and the ability to take shots in a black cave with no noise. These are the traits that leave me and other professional photographers believing that, in a couple more generations, the need for a medium format body with the attached digital back will be moot. Medium format cameras are already slow and bulky, and they can't handle low-light situations. When Canon and Nikon can match the picture quality, I think you'll see the dinosaurs start to fall.
Honestly, I believe it’s going to happen soon - within a few years. I'm interested to see how companies like Hasselblad and Mamiya react. Most pros running these medium format systems also host a grip full of Canon and Nikon gear. The transition from one to the other will be relatively seamless, and it could change the industry indefinitely.
Then again, DSLRs could be replaced by mirrorless cameras, and I would be totally wrong. But if I was a bettin' man...
What do you think about the Gizmodo article we linked to above? Do you believe mirrorless cameras will replace DSLRs in the near future? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!