Are DSLR Cameras DEAD?! (Picture This! podcast)

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Are DSLRs dead? Tony and Chelsea dive into charts and graphs and find some surprising information about the future of cameras.

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Comment (50)

  1. I think Canon and Nikon have made some decision that mirrorless is the future. That given, Canon and Nikon have no choice but to ramp up on mirrorless lenses, even with little immediate return. No one wants to be in last place, and of course, Canon and Nikon both owe their success — 80%+ of both the SLR and DSLR markers — because of their vast lens system. Right now, Canon and Nikon are racing for last place, with Sony, Fujifilm, Olympus, Panasonic, and the L-Mount Alliance well ahead. What else can they do?

    Only Pentax thinks that mirrorless is a fad and everyone's going back to DSLR in a few years.

    But you touch on another point: maintaining the DSLR lines. Right now, of course, many photographers are sticking with DSLR. But I do think that's because they haven't really grokked mirrorless yet. I got into mirrorless almost accidently, loved it, and left Canon forever. Lots of photographers are going to look at their needs and not jump to mirrorless, but I do think folks will increasingly flirt with it. The big problem Canon and Nikon could bring on would be to signal that they're abandoning their DSLR lines. That could get current users proactively shopping for a replacement… not necessarily from the same company.

    And you've seen how formats die. Samsung went away pretty quickly, but they were atypical. Everyone pretty much knew the Nikon 1 was dead — no new products in three years — before Nikon closed the coffin lid. Everyone knows that the Sony A-Mount is dead right now, but Sony has not pronounced it so yet. Same with the silly little Pentax Q — in fact, Pentax claimed last April "he's not dead yet". So the real understanding of what's dying and what's living will be reflected in what new gear actually makes it to market in the coming years, most likely. Unless someone pulls a Samsung and just dumps a whole mount suddenly.

    The problem with Canon cutting the Canon EOS-M mount right now is that Canon's selling way, way more EOS M systems than EOS R. They went to the #1 mirrorless brand in Japan, but with virtually no EOS R even involved. And there's no upgrade path — there's no reason for an EOS M user to move to another Canon. And if Canon just kneecaps the system, plenty of reason to never buy Canon again.

  2. It's also the case the DVD-Audio vs. SACD simply split the market, preventing either format from gaining much ground. But it's relevant to think of "high end audio" vs MP3 as being akin to "real cameras" versus smartphones. The set of people who had home stereo systems capable of exploting full CD quality is fairly small… meanwhile, the MP3 travelled with you everywhere and offered the convience of your whole collection on one small device. DSLR or mirrorless, you get far superior quality in a camera over a phone, if you really learn photography: shooting and editing. The phone, like MP3, is "good enough" for average non-photographers. And they increasingly employ advanced photo techniques like various kinds of photo stacking, all AI controlled.

    The upshot of all this is that a novice with a modern smartphone, moving to an entry-level DSLR or mirrorless, is going to have trouble getting shots that match what they got on the phone. There's a learning curve, and they're unprepared. In the past, you might have moved from a snapshot camera to a compact rangefinder or something before your SLR, and each upgrade immediately delivered better images. Not so much anymore.

  3. You guys missed a major factor in your comparison. Photographers do not need to completely outfit themselves with mirrorless lenses…canon sells an adapter to continue using EF glass on EFM bodies. In fact, that's what most people are actually doing.

  4. Mirrorless is latest whizzbang toy. Naturally I looked and found it wanting. Pan and the image in the 100,000,000 pixel viewfinder jumps , starts & stops like a hand cranked movie from 1920. Lens are bigger than slr lenses so when you place side by side, the camera is the same overall.
    Of course you can not time a shot of moving subject because of viewfinder lag. I would add a bright line finder from my Leica. 50 year old accessory.
    Bottom line, staying with Nikon DSLR s and Nikon F2 s, Leica digital M and film M. This will last me forever. I will not fall into the latest and greatest trap.

  5. Just watched this video, and read some of the comments; and my take on it is thus:

    1. I agree with Tony's projections and the logic that camera manufacturers will produce to their largest (DSLR) market. However, that said they will no doubt look at new (mirrorless) opportunities and cater for them, on a restricted basis.

    2. The next generation of camera users (the under 30's) are smartphone users; thus cameras (DSLR/mirrorless) don't figure on their radars, they focus on what technology (camera, AI, connectivity) their next smartphone will have.

    Therefore, the days of both DSLR and mirrorless may be coming to an end, everyone walks around with a smartphone, we don't always have our cameras with us.

  6. Listening to you talk about using Amazon as your benchmark for camera sales made me so furious, I had to get off the highway and type out a comment. In the interest of full disclosure, I probably fall in to the category of prosumer, in that I occasionally get paid to do photography, and the dollar value of the equipment I own is significantly higher than what I’ve made so far as a very part time photographer. That being said I would NEVER, not in a million years, think of buying something so important as bodies and lenses from Amazon. First stop is always my local camera store, which almost always will price match the big guys. I get to try out the body or lens, talk to a human being that knows something about it, and have someone to call when I have questions or warranty issues. I can’t possibly be the only one. I’d be very, very surprised if I was in the minority in my way of thinking and doing business. After my local camera store, there are the top two or three big stores in the NYC area, and a few scattered across the country that are known for good deals and great service. Why would someone buy something so expensive and necessary to their professional survival on Amazon? Sure, some do. However, I posit that most of the sales you are seeing are to beginners/amateurs, and hobbyists with a lot of money to spend, not pros.

  7. Well… as an Airshow/Aviation photographer shooting at flying things that sometimes get near speeds of Mach .98, and swinging 400 or 500mm glass at them, Mirrorless ergonomics and lighter weight are a trainwreck for me…. Perhaps one day, but I don't see a Mirrorless in MY future anytime soon. (I also do ZERO video, so the 4K stuff falls on deaf ears for me). Just one shooter's opinion.

  8. To keep the parallel with DVD Audio and SACD, tomorrow's can also be both DSLR and Mirrorless are dead. Smartphones rule the world. That's your "new way to consume music" revolution. It has already completly eaten up the compact market (that was huge). DSLR and mirrorless are just a tiny fraction left of the camera business. And it's declining, even if you add them up.

  9. You have to take that DSLR vs Mirrorless on a "pure industrial" point of view.
    That's where you're going to find the answer to the future of these technologies.
    Now, what is easier and cheaper to produce, a mechanical solution that has to be fine tuned and adjusted like a Swiss watch, or a digital solution (microchips, etc…) to the same requirements ?
    You can go deeper in that "industrial path", and easily figure out where we are moving to.

  10. One thing people are not considering is the number of people who have gear if a certain format and brand, but are struggling financially and won't be buying anything new for a long time or at all. And more and more people are struggling financially. And if they can script he up enough money to buy anything, it won't be a totally different format. It will be what they have. Buying up the used gear from others who can afford to jump ship. If they can find money for it. It would blow your mind by the number of shooters who are sticking to what th hey have just because they can't buy anything else other then food, medicine, and housing. Some can't even do that.

  11. I’ve been a long time Nikon DSLR shooter and I have recently made the plunge into mirrorless. What prompted me to do so were the rave reviews on the Nikon Z mount new lenses and their excellent optical capabilities that were, as a new line of lenses, optically above and beyond the very mature line of Nikon F mount lenses (I’m a high cropper and thus a sharpness addict).

    I looked long and hard at the Nikon Z7 and the Sony a7R3, shooting with each of them for a few hours. I did not look at the canon mirrorless because I wanted a 40+ megapixel sensor.

    In the end I purchased the Z7, because I absolutely loved it’s ergonomics, including the touchscreen capabilities to very quickly control the camera. Yes, the Sony’s focus tracking capabilities were superior to the Z7, but that was not enough for me to tilt the balance, the way I shoot.
    What I really love about the Z7, with which I’ve already shot several thousand images, other than the excellent optical quality of the lenses, is the great electronic viewfinder-It’s super usable in both lowlight and direct sun conditions. Also, the ability to adjust exposure on the fly and see what your shot is going to look like is simply priceless to me. The ability to look at the live histogram and see how much clipping you’re going to get is also super useful.

    Do I think DSLR’s are dead? Well as long as Nikon DSLRs have better focus tracking than their mirrorless models, DSLRs will survive, and the impending arrival of the Nikon D6 thus makes sense. In my view, once that hurdle is crossed, there won’t be any turning back. There’s just no reason to stick to DSLRs in the long run. In the short run of course if you have a lot invested in DSLR lenses, and are loathe to use an adapter, and are happy with the image sharpness you are getting, then it makes sense to stick to DSLR’s for a while longer.

  12. DSLRs dead? Why? Did all DSLRs automatically stop functioning all of a sudden? WHAT if mirrorless cameras are a fad, like Hula Hoops, Cabbage Patch dolls, etc? Well, it's OK, I'll stick to my Nikon D60 and D610 full frame cameras, and enjoy using my film camera era lenses. These cover the 35 to 300mm ranges, 3 primes (f/1.4 AF) 3 zooms (f/2.8 AF); since I only buy what I need, and I don't "need" other focal lengths. I may pick up 2 extra lenses from people selling DSLR cameras and lenses and I'll save a boatload of money!. WHAT if mirrorless proves to be a passing fad? Ha!

  13. I think there may not be enough consistent data to speculate what will happen just yet. I watched another vid by another heavily followed photog talk about the transition to mirrorless from DSLR being similar to when the transition was made from film to digital… I'm not sure that is a fair comparison bc that was a far more drastic change because it effected the body and the image format. The new movement really only focuses more on the body, while both continue to produce digital images. Any thoughts? I don't know enough about mirrorless to make an accurate comparison but I do see some of the new features not offered on the DSLR's. Nikon's attempt at mirrorless left us scratching our heads asking "why only a single card slot?" Please, I welcome thoughts on this. Very interesting topic here. Thanks!

  14. Your top-selling Amazon camera list is flawed because it only takes into account the top sales on Amazon. You'd have to pull the top 100 from ALL the retailers, then cross-reference each model, to come up with valid DSLR vs Mirrorless list sales list.

  15. Well many of those cameras are niche products for the pro community. That’s part of why they’re so much more expensive is because they don’t expect to sell hundreds of thousands of them so they have to re-capture their investment by selling fewer units. Nor is a full frame camera going to appeal to most people who are perfectly happy with their cell phone camera. Also you have to consider that pros often try to buy local from local retailers so of course those numbers would not be included but I personally chose the EOSR because I wanted to have a full frame stills camera and I hav tons of experience with mirrorless so it was a pretty easy step and I love the fact that I can use the EF lenses with full functionality with it and then be able to use those lenses on my video cameras with ease.

  16. I think you have the wrong title for this video. DSLR cameras are dead, they have been killed by mirrorless. Your video is mostly about lens mounts though. I think you are probably correct that many of the new mounts will die, but I don't think any new cameras for the old mounts will have a mirror. They will just be morrorless cameras with an old DSLR lens mount. They get most of the functional benefits of mirrorless cameras and access to all the old lenses, but they will be stuck with the limitations on lenses that the old mounts inflict on them. They may even be the new mount with adaptors for the old mount included with the camera back. If any of the manufacturers attempt to stay with DSLR cameras, it won't just be the lens mount that dies, it will be the brand as well.

  17. Consider Mercedes Benz strategy… it is quite similar to Canon's. It used to be just A, C, E and S class. Look at what it is now. DSLRs are not dead, but mirrorless are just better option. Similarly you can look at electric cars industry. It is not better to own an electric car, but it is the future because it brings a new technology and new business. In cameras industry, the change is not driven by any lobby, the mirrorless has just became an option, and… recently a better option than DSLRs.

  18. I got an antique car. I love it. everybody loves it. It is really bad, but come on: nobody thinks James Bond had bad taste with his Aston Martin.
    Keep your DSLRs for the same reason; don't throw them away; one day they might be worth a lot.

  19. Writing this in Autumn 2019: DSLRs are already dead. The indicator is not the choice of camera BODIES but of LENS CAPABILITIES. For a long time, the quality of even the most expensive pro lenses was lagging behind the sensor resolution of the latest DSLR bodies, and this was one of the two major limiting factors (the other is the improved AF in mirrorles cameras)

    With the new RF mount, Canon turned out a really impressive set of lenses with new kinds of glass and new coatings that just blow the old EF L-grade lenses out of the water. Yes, the new lenses are much more expensive; but they are also incompatible with the old DSLR bodies, which means that people who seek quality have no choice but switch to EOS RF which all but guarantees there is no turning back. Having the ability to use their old EF/EF-S/TS-E/MP-E lenses with their new system is enough to soften the blow; but the future is mirrorless, and the future is now.

  20. I ask myself when Canon/Nikon will count 2+2 and make mirrorles cameras with their already existing EOS/Fx mounts, throw out mirror boxes and mirrors and put EVFs in them. You would get lighter, cheaper and comfortably big bodies with no need to invest into new mount lenses. And after a while customers who bought mirrorles with old mount would start buying new lenses because they are better.

  21. Mirrorless is new
    DSLR is not
    New tech struggles to be adopted, this is common.
    Many ppl already own DSLR, and DSLR has not improved much the last few years.
    Sony mirrorless is very popular, and is growing as DSLRs are retired, and relegated to backups.

  22. Jared Polin says so. I was able to own a prime camera, Canon F1n, when all where jumping to DSLRs. I switched to Nikon when canon dumped FD lens in their DSLRs. If measurebators say DSLRs are passe then that’s great news. I can’t wait to get my hands on D5 or D6.

  23. amazon can't be the population for your conclusion. amazon is market for cheap camera Thar the reason you face the cheaper camera in the top. who is investing thousands dollars in amazon ???

  24. I think your predictions are pretty spot on except for micro 4/3. Because of the weight factor, and because of the low light quality which will continue to get better, more and more people will buy into micro 4/3. I don't say it because that's my only camera system… I have a Canon 5D mark iii which I hardly ever take with me, I have a Nikon D7000 and D5300, and a Fuji X-T2 which I love and use adapted Nikon lens! I either take with me the Olympus omd Em 5 mk2 or the Fuji X-T2. 90% of the time!

  25. wonder if Tony, would you make a different assessment , if you had the A7R4 in hand before filming this and presenting these conclusions. If Sony continues the way they are…….then N and C will have no choice but to switch over.

  26. No, I don't think Pentax K-mount is going to go away. As you made this video in May 2019, Pentax was developing its aps-c top model to succeed the K-3's. I predict it will have some real, Pentax-typical innovations and will sell very well.

  27. Like your video Tony. Wow, what great information.
    HOWEVER!!!
    I have to get out my six shooter and shoot the messenger. Choo, choo, choo, choo, choo. Bullets flying in all directions. Damn Tony, you're awe-fully lucky I'm a bad shot.

  28. mirror less not better than DSLR. I like it for hobby but not for professional. Once you buy you will see but its nice to own. Make sure you buy only the camera. use your lenses you already own. I bought the Nikon Z6 and it is much better than any Sony trust me. I'm 40 years of experience. The Nikon D850 is the best DSLR on the Planet

  29. Just because drills exist doesn't mean screwdrivers are "dead". Sometimes a drill won't fit in a small gap where a screwdriver can. They are different tools that can do the same job, sometimes you need one over the other. Imagine if contracters and tradespeople acted like photographers do on the topic of dslrs and mirrorless, we'd laugh at them. If you suck you suck no matter what you use.

  30. PLEASE MAKE A VIDEO ABOUT THE SAMSUNG GALAXY NX CAMERA. This is such a wonderful camera and I love using it. I have all three Samsung Android cameras. I started with the Samsung Galaxy Camera then I bought the Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 and finally I bought the Samsung Galaxy NX Camera. I love all three of these cameras. I even love letting my family and friends use the Galaxy Camera or Galaxy Camera 2 both in auto mode and letting them go off all day or week or however long and letting them just shoot as many photos and videos as they want. I also love that all three of these cameras are android which is how I share my photos and videos with my Google Photos account. I am very simplistic and minimalist and with new features from apple, I have decided to use my iPhone exclusively for color grading and editing videos with my iPhone. I also use Lightroom on my iPhone with a preset that I will create for each new batch of photos, so all they photos from an shoot or event will look the same. The only app outside of my iPhone or Android Samsung Galaxy Camera 1 and 2 as well as my Galaxy NX Camera, is iMovie on my Mac Laptop. I still use iMovie on my iPhone but it is severely limited and much more fully featured on the Computer vs the iPhone. Still usable on the phone though, just want that to be said. Anyway, PLEASE DO A VIDEO ABOUT THE SAMSUNG GALAXY NX AND SAMSUNG GALAXY CAMERA 1 & 2 PLEASE.

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