DSLRs Are Officially Dead Says Fro Knows Photo, I Say Maybe Not

The death of the DSLR has been predicted for years. With each new mirrorless camera model brought to market someone on the internet is playing TAPS for the DSLR camera format. But what is meant by DSLRs are dead?

In this well thought out video by Jared Polin of Fro Knows Photo, Fro goes all-in on the death of the DSLR camera format. No spoiler alert needed here as the title of the video is "DSLRs are Officially Dead". However, Fro focuses on professional photographers in this video and makes some well-supported arguments of why professional photographers are/will be moving from the DSLR format to the mirrorless format. And I agree with many of Fro’s points regarding the future of the camera format professional photographers will be using. You will have to watch the video to hear Fro’s valid points.

However, there is one point that I have to disagree with Fro and so many others when it comes to mirrorless replacing the DSLR format. And that is when they draw the analogy that DSLR to mirrorless is the same game changer as film to digital. It is not. DSLR to mirrorless is a small step and is not the paradigm shift that film to digital was. As of now, there is nothing a mirrorless camera can to do that an equivalent DSLR can’t. When going to digital from film, there were numerous things that digital cameras could do that film never could or would be able to do.

Keeping with Fro’s focus on professional photographers, let’s look at editorial photography as an example. Digital permitted the editorial photographer cut substantial amounts of time getting an image from creation to publication. Images could be sent almost instantly from source to publication anywhere in the world. The image could be received within minutes, and seconds in today’s world, by the publisher. No more need to handle a physical item from source to publication. No need to wait for the development of the image in a lab before publication. For publications such as newspapers or websites, it has always been critical to be the first to publish, and this speed advantage of digital wasn’t just a nice thing to have, it became mandatory if you were going to survive as a professional editorial photographer. Professional photographers made the switch because they needed to, even if it was going to cost them much of their hard-earned money to acquire new equipment.

That brings me to another point why I don’t believe professionals will be so fast to switch to mirrorless as they were from film to digital: money. Yes, professionals do demand to have the best equipment that is needed to get the job done. They also need to make a living, and the ones that survive know that keeping expenses down is what keeps them in the game. Without any significant advantages of mirrorless over the DSLR format, I see a more extended transition from DSLR to mirrorless for many professional photographers. I’ve shot professionally with both forms. I have nothing against the mirrorless format, but when I needed another body in the Nikon system, I chose a lightly used D500 instead of the Z6 or Z7 and earned myself a bunch of money by not spending more on the Z6 or Z7. Remember the only difference between professional photography and any other photography is making money.

So are DSLRs dead? I say no. Will mirrorless become the dominate format of the two? Yes, I believe it will but not overnight more like years, many years.

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94 Comments

Previous comments

people with plenty of time and no work to do.

Stuart Carver's picture

That sounds like me, at work

A lot of this is true for me. The IQ and performance out of most the mid to high level camera made over the past 5 years or so is so good that unless your business demands it the need to upgrade every cycle to the latest and greatest isn't there. I actually pushed up a scheduled upgrade by a year and change to see what would happen in the mirrorless world. Invest a lot in a fuji body and a few lens (I've started working more as a set still photographer on movie sets, and mirrorless offers HUGE advantages that I needed to stay competitive), but still keeping one foot in Canon (mostly for cost reasons) for the time being. A lot of the photogs I shoot sports and news with have asked me about my mirrorless kit. While I love it I usually note that set stills were the main reason I bought in, but for news and sports its not as much needed (so if you don't need to upgrade wait).

I also don't see mirrorless being the same leap that film to digital was, although if you are just getting into photography and bought mirrorless (which wouldn't be a bad idea) the trial and error feed back loop is a bit shorter then it was with just DSLRs (those EVFs aren't perfect, but to by that WYSIWYG while composing a shot is stunning). It's more like the step up in technology that video on DSLRs where a years back.

But the used prices on DSLRs dropping is great by me. Like I said I will probably keep one hand in Canon for awhile. Might pick up a used 5Ds for portrait work or maybe a used 5D Mark IV as a good all around next year. So please everybody. Hurry up and switch. My bank account demands it.

Douglas Turney's picture

Thanks Daniel. You make the same points I made with my article. There were many reasons beside the camera itself that drove people from film to digital.

Motti Bembaron's picture

A few weeks ago I was asked by a daycare owner if I could photograph the children the day after. I said yes when a moment later remembering that my D3 and my D750 are both sent for cleaning, my season hasn't started yet so I knew I was fine, I did not count on a daycare calling me right after labour day.

I did not cancel and instead brought my old D70. It was a small daycare and I knew the camera would do just fine. It's an old camera with slow focus and a tiny screen but the job was done without any problems.

I now also have the D500 and dead or not, I have enough equipment to last me for the next 5-10 years. If anything, I would by another used D500.

I do not see it (DSLR) going anywhere for at least 10-15 years. By then I will be hopefully happily retired.

Douglas Turney's picture

I love my D500s. A great camera.

Stuart Carver's picture

Oh god, not this again

Mark Wyatt's picture

This is kind of like switching to electric cars and hybrids. There are distinct advantages, but generally higher costs initially (and for the cars it seems the value drops quicker). But a Corvette is still a Corvette and a Ferrari is still better than a Tesla Model S (in my mind), even though the Model S may beat it in the 1/4-mile. And if I am travelling up and down California, I prefer the Camry to the Leaf (range).

But ultimately electrics could displace ICE cars because of their simplicity, torque, etc. They just need to get the price down and battery technology needs to improve a bit more.

Mirrorless is in a similar situation. Other than copy work/slide-negative-scanning/macro I personally do not see a need for a DSLR (and I am getting by with my mirrorless for now anyway).

Ed Sanford's picture

On cars, they need to take away the government subsidies through tax credits. I am not interested in paying for someone else’s vehicle. The technology must stand on its own like mirrorless.....

Mark Wyatt's picture

This should happen once the large car companies start offering electrics on a larger scale.

Douglas Turney's picture

Nothing wrong with mirrorless.

Mark Wyatt's picture

I( agree. When I bought my first serious digital last year I went with the Fujifilm XT-2. I was considering the Sony mirrorless A-7 III and Pentax K-II DSLR, and ultimately the Fuji won out for me on balance.

Fro is an entertainer. Doesn't he sniff the lenses? Speaks as if every sentence is a firm declaration? Say the Nikon lenses aren't pro lenses because they're f1.8? He's doing schtick. He's clever and funny. He's doing a show. Video is a visual medium and he does what he has to to get eyeballs.

He's trying to be one really really badly, for years. Can't stand the guy. I've never any impressive photo made by him, instead of sniff tests, farts and yelling. Yuck! And it's common thing on youtube, amateurs posing as pro photographers to gain money. Damn. If you want entertainment, check PotatoJet for example, guy is merging entertainment with knowledge and does the trick right. Jamie Windsor is more into knowledge and philosophy, but then he manages to edit his shows funny way. Fro? making cancerious content since 2010....

LOVE Potato Jet. I am a Potato.

This has always been my favorite type of comment. The one that says I don't actually take photos or that you've never seen any impressive photos i've taken. Okay. https://jaredpolin.com/

Don't check back in the old rolling stone magazines either. But please check out the website for some recent work including on the campaign trail with Bernie Sanders

Thanks for your support.

Ted Mercede's picture

I just checked your site, love the Bernie and Misterwives shots, very nicely done. Your personality is either love/hate with others I think, bottom line is you are doing your thing.

Motti Bembaron's picture

I agree. He is a good entertainer and he also knows his stuff. He comes up with some odd statements but he is fun to listen to and has valuable info.

I thought the Fro's in person shoot of some musician/composer was terrific.

He sniffs other things as well im sure. Look at that hair. Its about the show but no substance

Steven Hille's picture

The market is shifting. The debate boils down to sales. DSLR is dead if sales decline too far. Mirrorless would suffer the same fate if it's sales plummeted. The market determines the direction. So this is like arguing which deck chair on the Titanic is clean while the ship is sinking. The market (sales) is the king of the future of DSLR and mirrorless in their life or death cycles. IMHO.

Douglas Turney's picture

Absolutely the market is going to drive DSLRs to their death eventually. Mostly because the manufactures know that people like new things so if you can make a camera that is equal to the existing cameras but has a different feature that people may like then those people are going to be more willing to hand over some of their money. Especially if they have a fear of being the only one with old gear.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

Fear about old gear? are we that much of suckers for tech? Any way, the first back I used was a DCB2 on a SinarE. People who don't know always think of a view camera as an early century camera. Old.

Jordan McChesney's picture

With all due respect to “the fro”, I’d rather listen to a wet fart compilation than to people continue to make these claims. Especially if they think “horizontical” is a word.

Good article, though. Some good counter arguments.

Benoit Pigeon's picture

My change will be a progressive one but no rush, may be 2 years down the road replacing one body and just a couple lenses. My Canon 100mm is still the one that makes +80% of the income. Fro and friends can pay for tech this time, I'll get into mirrorless when they are solid proof and generation 2 or 3.
One day people say we are all done, the phones are coming, the next it's mirrorless. Rollercoaster.

Wolfgang Post's picture

I like these videos, we need more of that so that all those 'must have latest thingy' fanboys sell off their DSLR gear for low price. Makes the entire second hand market prices drop. Good chance to pick up some gear for half price and use it for the next decade.

Mark Wyatt's picture

Yes. And please keep pushing the "film is dead" narrative also. I am looking for some deals on film equipment. /s

Fritz Asuro's picture

Well in Jared's defense, I think he has a point. I had the D850 before and for me that was the ultimate DSLR. It's a high megapixel monster that has fast frame rates and amazing video features (well, for a Nikon). And there are a couple of things left for DSLRs to improve on. And it's usually by bumping the numbers.
I won't say it's dead, but it has reached its limits. It's like a Toyota Corolla getting updated every year but nothing much has been changed until a next gen design of it comes out. And that is what DSLRs need, a next generation of it. Question is, will there be any?

Mirror-less cameras won't replace the reliable DSLRs for now, but maybe 5 years later when most hiccups are ironed out, more professional photographers will choose the new system.
I myself took the gamble with Nikon's Z series and replaced my DSLR kit. It didn't take me long to be amazed and enjoy shooting with my Z6s (well there's Nikon to thank for their familiar UI design).
There are something with DSLR that will make it unique (duh, the viewfinder) but I'm not going back and hopefully things will get even better for mirror-less systems.

Theres nothing wrong with either system. Nikon ml havent mtured for the mass of dslr people to take them seriously including me. Reminds me of the d100/200/300 were only the 300 showed maturity. I dont see myself moving to ml for weddings for at least the next 5 years. Its not that I dont want to, its that my D850/D4s/D750 lack nothing for shooting weddings. My lens lineup is set and offers more then what I need for any challenge

I dont knwo what youre talking about but there is nothing lacking in my d850 to hold me back from shooting with it for at least 5 more years. Except changing shutter mechanism from wear. Even my D750 is still very relevant for shooting weddings. They do everything. The feel is so much more comfortable then the z cameras by far

Im not against the z cameras but they are lacking atm. Im sure down the line when thw system matures and all issues are fixed and the af system is up to par then yes. I do need. Good video camera but unfortunately it may be a sony I get just for that. The nikon is lacking a critical feature with 1 slot. You dont have a 2nd chance with weddings. Ive already had to pay a camera worth of fees for recovery. Woth social media your reputation could be ruined. Will never shoot with any 1 sloted camera again

David Moore's picture

Mine works fine. So, no.

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